Participants: Joelle, Audrey, Florian, Christa, Hannah, Mona, Nuran, Jasmina, Maya,John, Fremy, Anna, Eva, Eiwor, Peggy, Mikk and some bumblebees.
Summary of the meeting: We went around the circle and everyone said something about themselves and why they wanted to take part in the session.
Tova: We always starts like this, with who are the people gathered before we go on to the task of the meeting. My main issues are two> Keeping the spirit of the invitation and the spirit of choise. My focus is on keeping these fires alive in the prework. My mode of selling/marketing the OST is by inviting and giving (an informed)choise. OST is like swimming, you don't know what it really is until you have jumped into the water. We offer the client three methods we believe in, one of them is OST. We create a steering group - a caring community for the subject. They learn about OST, by asking clients on a list, reading websites and trying a short OST. The manager (CEO) is the one that really opens the space, sharing their authority, can be very painful. The steering committee is a place where they can watch the facilitators implement open space in every day life and learn how to do it. The facilitator can work on the question with them and learn together. The facilitator shares authority, responsibility, passes it over to others, selforganizing before the event. We meet at least 2-3 times, fluid in time, differs. The more complex the issue, the more time is needed. We use the steering committee as an experiantial field to find out whether they are in business or not, if they really mean what they are saying. It is a safer environment than an OST with 200 people. Charge - we charge for an OST and not per hour. If there is an OST all is inclusive (ie the pre-meetings), if not they pay us per hour for our time.
Hannah: One of the steering committees main tasks is to create the question, theme or what will make the organization work. We make the pre-meeting as a short OST, opening, always two break-outs even if they are only 15 minutes and closing. The theme is on their task as steering committee.
Florian: I try not to speak of OST, instead facilitate them in Open Space without telling them, every time taking next step, sometimes creating a mindmap together with them. My central idea is passion and patience to see in what direction it will take off. Lot of people uses OST as a technique rather within other methods which gives people bad experiences. I rather tell them to let the people solve the problems and let the government be of service and then tell them the way to do it when they ask. We don't mention Open Space Technology in our invitations.
Peggy: Freedom, choise, passion, patience, invitation. To me this is about purpose and invitation. I work with a process from Larry Peterson which includes 5 areas. 1. Purpose - what it really is about? 2. Who needs to be involved, starting to build a group. 3. Who is affected, can affect it, who makes decisions? This is done visually as a sociogram, the size of the circle is the population, the closeness to the centre is the impact of that group/person. 4. 2-3 alternatives of methods, processes, back to what is the purpose, time frames, dates, single-multiple events. 5. Sustaining what happens, how to make best use of the outcomes. We also schedule a follow-up meeting and weekly (monthly) phone-calls if the project is very large.
Audrey: There are often political implications for the sponsor, working with them to reduce their anxiety. The sponsor opens the space, we facilitate the meeting. One story - the facilitator opened the space and then during the morning sessions the manager got picked at and at lunch the director came and told the people what to do in the afternoon, which completely closed the space. We are also coaching the sponsor about his/her speech at the opening.
Tova: If the sponsor does not step back and leaves the space open there is no space for us to open.
Joelle: We have a pre-meeting to see if there is any relationship between us. Next meeting we creates a design team including the managers that are sharing their authority and those who have the authority to decide on the event. Then we start with purpose, then talk of the different ways we can work together, then maybe explain about OST and what comes after. I don't want to open the door if it is shut afterwards.
Peggy: People that wants to be in control of the details are good to have in the steering committee, they are good at inviting/getting people in. Maybe using a video to give people a picture of what it is.
Maya: One of my friends made a video showing herself doing the OST, to use on the computer, with special music.
Tova: I use the US West video in the trainings but so far never with a client. I think that if I use it I will impose on their decision.
Peggy: I think that is very much dependant on the culture. Tova, starting this session you asked what others wanted before you said your thoughts about this session. I have learnt that the group I have been working with need example.
Joelle: The work with the design team is not so much about the meeting but what comes afterwards. I need the team for all they know of their organization, because I don't know. The first meeting is about the theme, the policy decisions and invitation etc. The second meeting about what are not negotiable. To be ethical we need to tell people ahead of the meeting. And what are we going to do with the outcome? Then we have a meeting after the event.
Peggy: We also have start up questions about if there are any boundaries, constraints, legals. It is a risk when working with only 1-2 persons that we are getting a picture that is not valid for the organization, might be judged or to narrow.
Eva: I try to make the managers feel safe. Many of those I work with really want to do OST as it is a new thing. We talk of the purpose, what will happen afterwards, where they are in their organizational lifecycle and I then explain how to do it to make them safe with the method. This is a preparation for the sponsor about what issues can come up during the meeting.
Eiwor: I create stepstones so they can take one step at a time and then reflect and decide what they want and need. Right now I am in the process with an organization that asked for a OST meeting to do their planning for next year but when I asked them about their goals and vision they were not sure of them. I said that in this case an OST will not help them, they need to know where they want to go first. We will now start with a board meeting, which I will process facilitate to help them get clear about the vision and purpose of the organization and then we will see what happens.
Eva: I find it important to be clear about the work afterwards.
Tova: Although you will never know.
Fremy: We talk of the role of the sponsor and the committee. I work very differently, sometimes it is only myself and my colleagues that take the initiative, not always finding an organization to work with. I could be both sponsor and facilitator. In some organization I work with I am a participant or a member and take a large responsibility. To be able to consult a sponsor or committee is very different. I use OST to evaluate my actual work.
John: Fremy is spreading discussion based education through Open Space, we call it reflection circles, doing regular OST meetings for people from all over Haiti to learn and discuss OST. I prefer to do the steps with the leader, integrate more participation, sometimes saying this is not the time. But sometimes there is no way to do this, no time and sometimes I feel it is right to do OST anyway.
Tova: I only share the role of sponsor-facilitator when I do trainings.
John: Another different thing from Haiti is that I never had a formal training although I have been practising for 8-9 years. The discussionbased education format has so different authority that 2-3 days training did not change anything, they did not learn anything, instead we have weekly discussions for 6 months, just practising and practising.
Peggy: About the logistics, I made a list that I walk the client through, then it is their responsibility and I have it on my website www.opencirclecompany.com for their use.
Tova: That is what we use - the Peggy Holman list.
Online Comments: Larry: Great discussion. To give peope a quick taste of OST I now use Open Space in Pictures with clients who have not experienced an OS (often in addition to the US West Video). I have told stories, but I find the visuals add a lot. There are also visuals for each of the major components, some of which are not featured in the US West video. It is on my web sit at www.spiritedorg.com/OSinPictures?.htm . I know that Sharon King, Audrey and others have (are) developed their own versions (with their pictures) that they also use as handouts in the room. Sharon has found it very useful with a number of clients.