Thanks so much for sharing and for your thoughts and questions. This project
just sounds really powerful and it’s good to hear how it continues.
I wanted to share a few thoughts from my experience working in communities who
feel for whatever reason, that 3 hours of Open Space is all they can manage at
the moment. I was very leary of doing this as well however I have found that
in some cases, particularly in communities where people are in a sense
“volunteering their time” this can be quite powerful. Some of the things I
have found are:
1. Repeating the event in the same place (so doing 2 3 hour OST’s in the same
community/space) is a great way to add depth. Interestingly the first event
has often seemed superficial or the phenomenon I have seen is in these first
events people have put up many topics, then not followed up on them and
sometimes not even given time to write reports. Then at the second one, even
with many different people, there seems to be a shift to a more concentrated
and focussed OST with great depth. I have seen this now several times and been
fascinated by that phenomenon. So if at all possible to have 2x in the same
place that may be useful for getting to the deeper results and actions.
2. I wonder if they can concede to 3hrs and 30 minutes for the event? I have
seen that giving an hour for each topic can help both in quality of reporting
and in quality of discussion, but I have also done events in 3 hours with a
similar design that you propose and that does work.
Finally, I have been personally really surprised by watching people working in
very short OST’s in community settings like this. Often I have had a lot of
soul searching if I would do it and even if I would call it OST, however my
clients in several places convinced me that this was indeed something to try.
I have been deeply surprised at how short events like this, when done fully,
with prep meetings and the full commitment of the facilitator can bring results
and depth that blew me away. I am also aware that in all these cases the OST’s
were just starting points of more meeting in a similar way and more moments of
Open Space Technology that grow from it. So I think your design is really
powerful in bringing that in especially with the follow-up.
On 16 Sep 2016, at 09:36, Thomas Herrmann <tho...@openspaceconsulting.com>
Dear friends in Open Space
I write to share about an exciting project and to ask to have
feedback/ideas/experiences assisting me to refine/decide on the design I am
The project is in a neighbouring town of about 35 000 inhabitants. They are
inviting everyone living there to explore ways to contribute to enhance the
learning amongst children/youth complementing/supporting what is happening in
the school. The top politician in the town, responsible for education/schools
is my sponsor. During the spring I had a couple of meetings with the top
politicians and managers for the school system. Then we widened the circles and
had some meetings with other interest parties , to invite more engagement for
We have a plan that includes follow up, to support what is emerging, decide on
next steps and make sure there is report back to what is happening and not.
A couple of days ago we had our “final” planning meeting getting the theme
etc. Still working on wording but something like “For the future of our
children. How do we create conditions for enhanced learning for pupils in our
community?” Of practical reasons evenings are considered the best options.
Parents, pupils, teachers, business people, public workers etc etc are all busy
daytime and weekends are not considered a good option. “Everyone” will be
invited but it’s hard to say how many will come to each meeting. I guess
between 10-200 J
Now the plan is to have three 3-hour meetings in three different parts of the
small community. I have suggested a fourth meeting where all are invited for
convergence/action planning. There are of course several challenges. I am not
even sure I will suggest we use OST even though I’d love to. I think a 3-hour
meeting is the bare minimum for the simplest form of an OST meeting. On the
other hand I see possibilities for this to be looked at like an OST meeting
consisting of three occasions á 3 hours + convergence in a fourth meeting for
another 3 hours… That looks better, ey?
There are some opportunities with this:
1. More time for the divergent process before converging.
2. People can choose to join several meetings, deepening their thinking
3. People can get access to more ideas/material from the 3 meetings.
4. There can be continued conversations online in between meetings and
approaching meeting nbr 4.
5. There will be opportunities for people to create joint projects over
“boundaries” in the community (meeting nbr 4 and online)
There are several challenges with this too.
1. There will be different people in all of the meetings
a. There needs to be a proper opening each time
2. 3 hours is very short. My plan: Opening/agenda 45 mts. Session 1 (45
mts). Session 2 (45 mts). Individual reflection/personal commitment (15 mts).
Closing 30 mts.
a. For the actionplanning meeting (meeting nbr 4) I will probably use
re-opening, after a brief opening and reading reports/reflecting. A couple of
action planning sessions, 1 minute reportback/group and then closing.
3. How to bind everything together to one whole
So far I lean towards this plan but I would love to hear to your ideas,
thoughts, experiences and/or suggestions!
All the best
Open Space Consulting AB
You reach us via phone: +46 (0)709 98 97 81 or email:
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