I see that you are hoping to use OST and yet not totally sure if it will be
your chosen method. I believe that OST is the only method that will be
sufficient for what you want to accomplish. It meets all the criteria for
when OST works best. The most important factor for me though, is the Law of
Two Feet so that people can choose to stay or leave if there is hard
lobbying for particular issues. I trust that with the Law of Two Feet and
how it is explained, all such attempts will have only the effect that there
is energy for...and no more.
Long ago, Larry Peterson, Judy Gast, and myself were the three facilitators
for three different OST meetings in the same big building at the same time.
It is how the sponsors figured we could work well with about 600 people in
meaningful ways around a very conflicted issue in the educational sector,
in a short time. This allowed the reports of all three sessions to be
available simultaneously and there were advantages in this for convergence
of themes and the surprise that surfaced at the similarities and also
dissimilarities of what came from the three separate OST meetings. Despite
the conflicted issue and people picketing outside and us being briefed on
the potential for violence and heave lobbying erupting in our meetings,
there was no violence and the Law of Two Feet took care of the lobbying. I
think you get a very different effect/outcomes if you have three concurrent
OST meetings with three facilitators than you do if you have a sequence of
meetings in which people who really want to get their agenda through go to
all of the meetings.
The givens are very important in relation to outcomes. When I work in a
political context, I negotiate ahead of time with the political body who
must 1. make decisions, 2. assign budget to future action and 3. be held
accountable by the public including media. There are endless stories about
successful OST meetings in which people feel so good at the end of the
meeting. However, the more important stories are the ones in which after
some months there was significant positive change. It seems that the job is
not only to open space for people to have conversations and reach agreed
upon recommendations....it is more importantly to open space in a rigid
system that is well entrenched, political, and has certain accountability.
I am rather curious about how you have set up for this.
So...when I work in a political context, part of my negotiation is about
whether action items can move forward by anyone in attendance ie:
businesses, other organizations, individuals OR if the action items have to
wait for a decision/vote by a particular political body like a school
board. My favorite and most impactful experiences have been when the
political body says right up front that any agreed on recommendations that
do not need to access extra budget through the political body can go
forward by anyone who has the passion and resources to do so....without
waiting for some agreement on a bigger plan/budget. I admire political
groups who are willing to open that much space in their communities to take
action on solutions,
Best wishes for a fantastic experience!
On Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 3:37 AM Thomas Herrmann <
> 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
> working on.
> 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 this idea.
> 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
> 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
> 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
> Thomas Herrmann
> Open Space Consulting AB
> You reach us via phone: +46 (0)709 98 97 81 or email:
> Open Space Consulting is a small company with BIG ambitions to assist
> leaders and organizations as well as local communities to tap into their
> full power to achieve their dreams. We bring practical tools and knowhow to
> empower you to find your way forward.
> *More info*
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