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Stages of OST’s gatherings

Page history last edited by Hempal 14 years, 3 months ago

1.3 Stages of OST’s gatherings:

 

From the phase wise perspective, an Open Space event can be categorized in three stages:

  • Preparatory stage: Planning and preparation for Open Space event

  • OST practice stage: Facilitation and participation in an Open Space gathering

  • Post OST stage: Reflections and way ahead from Open Space gathering.

 

Planning and Preparing for the Open Space Event:

 

The Open Space begins even before Opening the Space. In it , everything starts with an invitation. First the invitation from the host or organizer to the facilitator for facilitating the event. It is than followed by iterative process of deeper consultation and exploration with the host. The first series of consultation focuses on the needs of the organizers and cross check if Open Space is the best methodology to follow for the event. The process include developing a specific central theme and identifying the boundary lines and assumptions for the event. Once there is a complete buy in form the host and the confidence from the facilitator that OST will be the best methodology for the event, the next step is to draft an open letter of invitation highlighting the theme and space for participation.

The planning and preparatory stage also needs that the facilitator works with the host is developing an uninterrupted, evolutionary flow design of the event for the scheduled time duration. S/he should visit the venue in advance to plan hall setup and facilities available and required.

On the D-day, the facilitator should reach the venue at least an hour in advance for arranging the meetings venue, preparing Time/Space matrix (Marketplace), pasting the central theme of the events, checking other logistics arrangements including computers, networks (if using wikis or weblogs), printers, documentation and reporting guides, voting stickers and other materials. And most important, the facilitator should arrive to the venue with an openness to surprises.

 

Facilitating and participating in an Open Space gathering:

 

The facilitation and participation in an Open Space gathering starts with a welcome and an invitation to check in the Open Space circle. The introductory section of the event can be designed to highlight the overview and framing of the programme, informal introduction and sharing the values of circle.

Once, these activities are completed, the facilitator can introduce the Open Space and the method(s) of designing the programme by the participants themselves. After explaining the Time/Space matrix (Marketplace), s/he can invite participants to propose their ideas and topics related to central theme. It is critically important to ensure the ownership of the process among the participants by acknowledging that it is their space and they are the one who can make it best in given time and space.

As the Time /Space matrix start pouring in with ideas and topics from participants, the facilitator can assist in organizing and consolidating the topics in the matrix. S/he should ensure the participants that the Time/Space matrix is open for any addition or modification or retrieval of topics as found necessary by any participant at any point of time during the event. Once the ideas and topics are posted on the time/space matrix, s/he can also invite the participants to sign up for the open Space feather group discussions and set them loose to get organized.

It is important that the facilitator encourage everyone to speak up and participate. Also, s/he must protect the space from invaders and those who wants to control or direct the discussion. This can be done by following the principles and rules of OST.

As soon as the first feather group discussion in Open Space is over, the facilitator should assist the idea initiators to post the discussion’s highlights in the computers as per the reporting guidelines. This can be followed by pasting the outcomes on the news walls for other to follow.

If it is a multi day event, the in between days closes with an check-out circle and opens with a check-in circle, where the participants share about their reflections, announcements or any other logistics information.

Once, all the feather group discussions have been carried out and the highlight reports are shared, the facilitator can lead in convergence of the ideas that can be taken forward. S/he can use any mechanism like voting or others to help group to converge to limited topics for future actions. S/he than can invite the idea initiators and those who relates to it for developing an action plan and share it with the entire group. These converged topics are the one which group passions for and require actions. Let them now work out the details as who will be doing and when and what will be the milestones etc.

After the entire action plans on converged topics are shared and feedback and supports are assured from the participants, consider this as a time for final closing and check-out circle. The facilitator should bring the participants back to the big circle and provide space to share their reflections by using the talking stick process. Finally, before giving space to the host for concluding the event, ensure that the records of proceedings are provided or shared with the participants where they can find themselves. .

 

Reflections and way ahead from Open Space gathering:

 

As the participants leaves the venue, it’s time for the core team members from the host organization and the facilitators to meet and reflect on the event’s outcomes. Reviewing the expectation(s) and the outcome(s) of the event is one of the important benchmark to assess the success or failure of the event. The team should also ponder upon the approach, arrangements and methodologies that worked and the ones, which could have worked better.

Finally, the team should share the final report of the proceedings and agree on a broad time line to review the action plans agreed in the converged agendas. It is also a good practice to establish a common communication channel and share the progress using the weblogs, wikis and mailing lists.

In an Open Space, it is a practice to follow up with the host and participants about the action plan in a week time, and again in regular time interval. As OST is mostly applied for a continuous process, it is recommended to follow up on the progress in an interval of six months and explore the possibilities of moving ahead better.

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