We are getting prepared to be surprised about an upcoming Open Space Fishbowl with Larry Peterson on October 6th with the Victorian Continuous Improvement Network. It should be great. I took the opportunity to send a few questions Larry’s way regarding Open Space. I’d love to invite you to contribute to any of these questions as well by replying into the comments field.
Question 1: How did you first come to experience Open Space?
Harrison Owen did a workshop in Toronto in 1990, invited by ACCORD and some people I knew.
Question 2: When you’re explaining Open Space to someone who has never heard of it, what do you emphasise and what do you leave out?
It depends on the person? If it is a potential client, then I describe OST in relation to the business issue that she/he is facing and what could result. For example, if a person wants to engage the employees in dealing with an issue at hand – I’ll describe how OST does that and the role of convergence in relation to the results. I will usually tell a story from my experience. If the person wants a senior team to clarify how it can work together to achieve a vision, I’ll describe how that has is done with OST and cite my experience. I don’t “sell” OST but identify it as an option.
To people in the airplane, I talk about: easy way to conduct a meeting where everyone has an opportunity to shape the agenda and actively participate; generating enthusiasm, energy or spirit; people work on what they have an interest in or passion for; circle and description of process. It then depends on what questions they ask what aspects I describe or theory I suggest.
Question 3: Some feel that the principles of Open Space seem to be authentic. That is, able to be applied to everyday life. What’s your view?
YES! Living life and management approaches based on OS principles are quite profound ways of going further with what the Technology has to say. Open Space Technology is different from Open Space. The “technology” is the approach to applying the principles that Harrison Owen developed. Open Space can be practiced anywhere, everywhere, all the time.
Question 4: What 3 tips would you give to a new facilitator interested in “Opening Space”?
That is what I do in the workshops on OST that I lead or the coaching that I do. Many tips. I have an article on coaching OST facilitators on my web site. So I’ll send people there.
Question 5: I have heard of the concept or leadership style called “Open Space Leadership” sometimes discussed. What’s your experience with “Open Space Leadership”?
I have not heard of Open Space Leadership or seen anything written on it. I have heard of the Open Space Organization and seen some writing. Certainly the principles of OST can be applied to leading change. I think some learn to do that intuitively as our study suggests. I think those principles are part of great leadership for our times – but it is not just “Open Space” leadership but all leadership.
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