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Learnings and Conclusion

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Chapter 4: Learnings and Conclusion


Following learnings can be driven on the basis of the application of OST in various events mostly held in South Asia:


1. Where OST can be applied?

  • OST is appropriate where a diverse group of people must deal with the complex and potentially conflicting issue(s).

  • When nobody knows the answer to the “problem” or the “situation”.

  • When there is a local need and local initiatives required.

  • When the immediate response is critically important.

  • When participatory approach is required to be build on consensual basis.

  • When the process is equally important as to the decisions and the following actions.

  • When collaborative action is needed for community building.


2. Where OST cannot be applied?

  • The answer is already known.
  • When the organizers explicitly intend to validate their answer.
  • Organizer feels the need to be in charge and control, control, control.
  • When the organizer lack trust and confidence from the participants.



3. What helps in applying OST?

  • Prior preparation

  • Open invitation and voluntary participation

  • Informal settings

  • Contextualizing principle with local context

  • Pre-informed participants

  • Diversity among the participants

  • Developing common principles among participants

  • Using local dialects

  • Considering local values and culture

  • In case of multi-days event: daily check-in circle and check-out circle

  • Team facilitation

  • Indoor as well as external games and refresher activities

  • Bringing environment

  • Residential is helpful

  • Using collaborative tools and technologies like blogs, wikis etc. for documenting and sharing the learnings at the larger extent.

  • Pre and post debriefing of facilitation team, in case of multi-days even – it should be on the daily basis

  • Follow-ups

  • Flexibility

  • Trust towards the organizers and the group(s) involved

  • Independent, neutral and approachable reputation of the facilitator(s)


4. What to expect from OST?

  • Be prepared for resistance towards change
  • Be prepared for the surprises
  • Innovative tools
  • Ownership and validation of the process and its outcome(s)
  • To follow actions/decisions
  • To be followed up in future
  • Knowledge sharing


5. What may hinder the application of OST?

  • Hierarchical social set-up
  • Lack of active participation of oppressed and marginalized communities
  • Oral society; lack of practice to document
  • Closed and controlled society in thoughts, expressions and in actions
  • Concept of marketplace and marketing of ideas and knowledges
  • Lack of trust and confidence towards the organizers and the participants
  • Conflict of interest amongst the participants and organizers


6. Who can apply OST?

  • Anyone, including leaders, change agents, facilitators, event organizers, people of all levels of experience and anyone aiming for more effective and inspiring collective work.


Among the various schools of facilitations, OST is a self-organizing process for decision making. It works as means for a collective process that allows group of people to innovate as per their need and context. Thus, with certain cautioned steps, it can be proved as a tool that enables creativity and real learning by encouraging dailogue. In South Asian experiences, the OST has been witnessed as a tool to contribute for development and sharing of these experiences is expected to be a helping hands to all for making best of it.

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