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Planning and Preparing for the Open Space Event

Page history last edited by Hempal 14 years, 2 months ago

2.1 Planning and Preparing for the Open Space Event

 

To produce a concrete output from an event, the synergy and momentum generated through OST needs to be supported by the process, in which, the core coordinator or lead facilitator has a key role. Thus, the planning and preparation phase of any event or gathering starts from a formal request invitation from the host to the core coordinator or lead facilitator for designing and facilitating the event. 

 

Developing a good understanding with the organizers

 

The first meeting and follow up discussions of a core coordinator or lead facilitator with the host should be focused on understanding the need of the organizer(s), the objective(s) of hosting the event, the organizational culture and practices and the nature of the event they have envisioned to host.

 

Further, a regular evolving discussions and sharing with the organizers and other team members is an important factor for successful planning and execution of any Open Space event. Thus, the facilitator, must thoroughly work on this aspect through out from the pre-during and post period of the OST event. As, the role of the facilitator during the OST sessions becomes (seems) invisible, it becomes critically important that there is a good level of confidence and understanding among the team member. Also, involving them in designing process of the event clarify lots of mis-conceptions and skepticisms. Keeping the communication channel open though out process enhances the confidence and trust of the organizers on the process and among each others also. The open communication channel and the involvement of facilitators in the designing process of the event in one hand clarify misconceptions and skepticisms related to

the contents and process of the event, on the other hand, it enhances the confidence and understanding among the organizing team members.

 

 

Preparing for higher level of buy in and surprises

 

Once the requirements and opinion of the organizers and the nature of the event is communicated and analyzed, the facilitator(s) needs to assess the applicability of check out if OST is as the best approach. Once s/he is finds it a best option, for hosting this event, than s/he can share about OST in detail. How it works and what had been his/her experiences with OST. S/he can explain them about the process to be followed and what are the other components which might be helpful for them to understand the OST in more detail. For hosting this kind of meeting, there needs high level buy-in from the host and confidence. Thus, the facilitator must make an evaluation if OST best serves the hosts' expectations and are they prepare to welcome the surprises. Once the feasibility of OST is ensured, its detailed information needs to be well communicated with the organizers. The facilitator(s) have a key role to make the host or organizers understand the significance of OST in achieving their objectives as well as to prepare them for possible the surprises attached with the OST gathering.

 

Sharing the functionality, process and related components of OST and one’s experiences related to it will be helpful in getting higher level of buy-in and confidence from the host. Involvement of organizers or their team members in the planning phase also helps in understanding the methodology, internalization of the principle of OST, their roles in the process as well as in building their confidence level too.

 

The time (duration and flow) and space (venue and settings) requirements also needs to be shared in precise details with the host. Further the process to be followed to invite the attendees, identification of the givens and assumptions also needs to be communicated. There must be a clear message from their end to ensure that there is a strong buy-in, before starting to prepare for the OST gathering. The facilitator should also encourage few team members from the organizers to work together in different phases of the OST. S/he should also initiate and facilitate discussions among these planning group members so that the entire facilitation team member understand the methodology, their roles and internalize the principles of OST. Above all, the facilitator should prepare the organizers for the surprises that are associated with the OST gathering.

 

Planning time for the Open Space gathering.

 

The time (duration and flow) and space (venue and settings) requirements of the event also need to be well discussed in precise details. Further, the process for identifying and inviting the attendees also needs to be communicated. The time requirement for and OST gathering is determined based on the basis of the possible results that the gathering wants aims to achieve. Its duration may stretch from half a day to two or three days depending upon the depth of the discussions and exploration of theme and future action plans. as deemed necessary. In normal practice generally, an half day OST event is good considered reasonable for quick brainstorming. One day OST event is suitable for having deep in-depth discussions over the theme and to identify some action steps ahead. Two days OST event is a provides good platform for deep exploration of the theme and for developing an action plan for to be followed up. A three days OST event is much deeper in exploration and is useful in developing a future action plan for future actions. These longer OST events anticipates for establishing an a deeper buy in from the participants towards these theme and it has proved to be a strong community building exercise.

 

Planning location and space

 

A comfortable and peaceful environment is must for productive OST gathering. Thus, the location for the OST event ideally situated within the nature is preferable. Availability of open green spaces to organize breakup group activities would be an added advantages. If the location is within the urban suburb, it would be advisable to bring the nature into the venue in the forms of flowers and plants. A comfortable and peaceful environment is a must for productive and undisturbed OST gathering.

 

 

Whatsoever, the space for the OST event preferably should be a big open hall. If, not than in situations of non-availability of desired size of the hall, other informal alternatives like lobby or out door space can also be used for these gatherings. It should be able to accommodate the adequate number of chairs as there will be for the participants to be seated in a circle. If it is not possible to accommodate all the participants in a single circle, than we can add second or third row as suitable and required. But the basic ideas of making sitting arrangement in circle is that all the participants should be able to communicate and interact with each other without any obstructions. To calculate the exact dimensions of the hall required for expected total number of the participants to host OST, the spreadsheet prepared by Koos de Heer from Auryn management advies1 can be a helpful tool. In common practice, any space which can accommodate X number of participants in conventional (theater) style seating can accommodate is X/2 (i.e. half) of that number of participants in Open open circle seating. Hence, it these matters must be planned and communicated and taken into consideration while making the reservation for the venue.

 

1for more information, see Resources and Sample for Facilitator or visit: http://www.auryn.nl/

 

 

To plan different spaces and activities for hosting the Open Space, it is considered good practice for the facilitator along with the host (if possible) to visit the venue before hand so as to plan these spaces and activities for hosting the Open Space. S/he can also take pictures of the venue to assist in designing and arrangement of different OST sessions and other spaces as required. A good space design enables active interaction and comfortable movements of the participants which is critical to for the success of the OST event.

 

The facilitator should also take a stock of the infrastructure of the venue like power systems, tape wall friendly wall tape, for the main meeting and breakout room/space, supporting materials available in the venue like the easel, soft-boards, types of chairs etc. available in the venue including in both the main and breakout rooms/space.

 

Preparing the theme , focus statement and the givens (assumptions)

 

The originator of OST, Harrison Owen says that “for Open Space to work, it must focus on a real business issue that is of passionate concern to those who will be involved. It must have the capacity to inspire participation by being specific enough to indicate the directions while sufficient openness to allow for the imagination of the group to take over.” Thus, one of the basic requirements of OST is clear and compelling theme.

 

Phrases like “focus statement”, “issue to be addressed” or “question for open space” etc. has been used in common practice. A powerful theme statement provides a central mechanism for focusing discussions and inspiring participation. It supports leading the discussion with a positive spirit and thereby in achieving the objective of the gathering and lead the discussion with a positive spirit. It thus, should be developed by the organizers in close consultation with the facilitator. To enhance the probability of buy-in from the participants, it should be stated, as much as possible, in simple language and developed in such a manner that it encourage buy in from the participants. Further, it allowing participants to relate with it and connect it to their respective context.

 

The assumptions and givens with respect to the upcoming OST gathering must shall be discussed and identified in advance with the head of the organization. This discussion should identify also, the areas which organizers think that OST gathering may also consider and the boundaries and non-negotiable areas that the organizers are not willing to discuss at this time. Equally significant is to have pre-discussion on clear message on what and how the outcome from the OST gathering is going to be taken forward by the organizers. It must also attempt to identify the areas which organizers think that OST gathering may also consider in their discussion. The significance of providing information about any recent development within the organization related to the topic or other information that the participants may need to know in the beginning or any information which the organization wants to share for making the discussion more informed needs to be noted down. The discussion should also identify the anxiety of the organizers that they wants to see addressed be resolved from the particular is OST gathering.

 

Preparing invitation and planning participation.

 

Once the aforementioned details are finalized, the time is for forwarding an open invitation to the perspective participants. Before so, the details of the attendees and participants to be invited must be discussed. As interest and commitment is the prerequisite for the OST to succeed, the invitation should be forwarded to group which is interested and committed to the theme. In case of failure to bring on board such relevant people on board, than the OST is for sure to fail. Also, while sending the invitation and confirming participation, the number of participants and diversity they bring needs to be constantly monitored. To have enough diversity, in common practice, it is preferred to have minimum 20 numbers of participants so that there in enough diversity. The maximum numbers of participants can depend upon the upper limitation of the organizers which can be comfortably hosted in given space and settings.

 

The invitation should be prepared and forwarded with organizer's name. It must contain various sections including the title of the event, date, venue, time, context, objectives of the gathering, theme of the meeting, expected participants, brief outline of the program structure, the host and the people who are associated with organizing the gathering, contact and participation details and other logistics information.(for a example, you can refer Refer to two invitation letters forwarded to participants of Art Of Collaborative Leadership in Nepal in the Resources and Sample for Facilitator section).

 

It should further, clearly state the discussed givens and assumptions. It can also highlight the uniqueness of OST that the event is going to follow while gathering and also introduce the facilitators who can than initiate the discussion communication, if so required, with the participants. Further, the The follow up communication can be made to inform the participants and made them aware them about the general outline and the issues that are going to be discussed in OST gathering. To save the time and prepare the participants for quick start the preparatory materials required for the gatherings must be shared with the participants in advance.

 

Planning uninterrupted, evolutionary flow design

 

The program agenda for the OST event does not have completely pre-determined schedule for the entire gathering. Rather, it contains an overall basic structure or framework for the full time duration of the event. Typically, most of them includes opening session, session for framing of the event, agenda setting session, open time and space for OST break out feather group discussions, session for convergence of topics (if the OST event is multi-day event and there is requirement for convergence of the ideas discussed) and the concluding session. This framework creates an outline of the process where the participants can propose the issues or ideas they want to share and take forward. The framework flow of the program should be developed in an evolutionary, enriching and uninterrupted process. And, if one process has begun, it should not be interrupted by other processes or presentations. Thus, if there is any such presentations it must either be placed before these OST sessions or after it.

 

One of the particular practice that has been followed in designing the program flow is the “Theory U” process.

 

 

 

 

 

In the above “Theory U” diagram, the various stages of the program flow process can be defined. The opening and framing session of the event can relate to the seeing the system; agenda setting session can relate to sensing the whole; open time and space for OST break out feather group discussions is deeper and more reflective and presencing process; the convergence session is an act of crystallizing of the topics; committing for action plan on these converged topics relates to prototyping/realization of new actions; and finally the conclusion relates to the final phase of “U” process of act, apply and embody. The following additional resources can be handy in guiding about this design process:

  1. The sample of schedule for two and half days OS event. (Refer in the Resources and Sample for Facilitator section)

  2. To plan the session flow and other process details, the Open Space planning and preparation process detail worksheet can be used. (Refer in the Resources and Sample for Facilitator section)

 

Preparing and planning Open Space background materials, reporting format, guidelines, stickers, other notes

 

In the first run of the OST, the participants finds that the OST is unstructured and it follows a self evolving process. This is possible because in the words of Harrison Owen, “....the OST inspires participation by being specific enough to indicate the direction, while possessing sufficient openness to allow for the imagination of the group to take over. ” Thus, there are few specific requirements which if provided, indicates the directions for smooth operations. Apart from the theme and other logistics, the background materials, guidelines of OST, reporting formats, instruction labels etc. are very helpful in assisting this self propagating process on its own course. Below are the lists of few materials that the facilitator can prepare in advance to assist the informed flow of the OST.

  1. Central theme of the OST gathering: 2-3 sets; to be placed preferably in long rectangular poster as per the space available. If some participants do not fully understand the language of the OST event in which the theme is written, than it should be translated in their local language as possible.

  2. OST principles and law of mobility : 2-3 sets poster of A4 size for each principles and laws.

  3. Pictures (if possible) of all OST principles and law of mobility to make it easily understandable.

  4. OST gathering program flow diagram: 2-3 sets on flip charts; this should highlight the flow of each day and a glimpse of the entire event. This can be depicted in diagrammatic manner also. For sample, refer to the resources and sample for facilitator section.

  5. Label for Time/Space matrix (Marketplace): 1 set in the main language of the event and corresponding other sets for other local language(s) with appropriate terminology for time/space matrix (marketplace).

  6. Label for each breakout room/spaces in as required in the time/space matrix: 2 sets in A4 size paper. The breakout room/spaces can be represented by capital letter of English alphabets like “A”, “B” and so on.

  7. Label for each breakout session with session number and time duration of that session for the time/space matrix: 2 sets in A4 size paper; the breakout session number can be represented by Numbers like “1”, “2” and so on with the designated time duration in the brackets below the session number.

  8. Label for Newsroom : 2-3 sets of A4 poster for indicating the room/space to be used as Newsroom.

  9. Label for News Wall: 2-3 sets of A4 poster for indicating the space where the discussion report will be posted for participants to read out.

  10. Documentation Details : 3-4 flip-chart size posters; It may have detail information, like for example: computer login details like, user name, password, folder location, URL of the wikis or blogs used for reporting the breakout sessions, etc.

  11. OST breakout session reporting format: 3-4 flip-charts with framework for reporting the OST breakout feather group discussion highlights. Also, photocopies of this format in A4 size paper in adequate numbers can be provided to participants for taking notes while these breakout feather group discussions are taking place. The sample of reporting format is provided in the Resources and Sample for Facilitator section.

  12. OST action plan reporting format: 3-4 flipcharts with framework for reporting the action plan on the converged topics of OST event. Also, photocopies of this format in adequate numbers can be provided to participants for taking notes while these sessions are taking place. The sample of reporting format is provided in the Resources and Sample for Facilitator section.

  13. Registration sheet : To be used for registration of participants for the OST event. It should include spaces for providing information related to participants and his/her contact details.

 

 

Preparing the venue: Setting up the space

 

An appropriate setup for an OST gathering plays a critical role in its success. Thus, the facilitator should have adequate time to oversee the hall setup and other arrangements of OST spaces. For this, s/he should arrive at the venue one night in advance or reasonably before the beginning of the OST gathering to arrange setup of the venue. Following setup needs to be completed before the arrival of the participants to the gathering:

  1. Arrange the chairs in a circle or in concentric circles to ensure that each individual participant will be sitting in a face-to-face posture with rest of the participants. This type of sitting arrangement enables equal participation and thereby promotes interaction. The center of the circle must be open and should have sufficient empty space for facilitators and participants to walk around. There should not be any podium, table or any other furniture placed inside the circle. Rather flip-charts, meta-cards, markers and tapes can be placed in the center of the circle for participants to write their ideas and topics in the OST session(s).

  2. The most prominent and empty base wall can be used as Agenda Wall. The base wall must be a clean, even and leveled surface, where one can use masking tape to paste other materials. This wall shall comprise of a time/space matrix for agenda setting and information about time management. One can use different color of masking tape to create this matrix. More details on how to organize this matrix can be found in later section of this chapter.

  3. One of the corners of the hall, lobby or a separate breakout room can be used to setup computers. This space can be labeled as Newsroom and participants can use this space for documenting their group discussions. Further details on setting up a newsroom can be found in following paragraphs in this chapter.

  4. Breakout room/space needs to be setup for OST breakout feather group discussions. Chairs can be arranged in a small circle for small group to meet and discuss their topic. This room/space must be labeled prominently. In case the room/space is outside the main hall, the clearly understandable directions arrows and venue diagram is helpful for the participants to reach the required room/space with minimum assistance required.

  5. OST gathering requires that the participants are not deviated or disturbed from flow of the discussion taking place. Thus, one of the common logistic arrangement for OST is setting up multiple outlets of self help table for teas, coffees, chocolates, cookies and other tidbits inside the meeting venue.

  6. The posters of the central theme or focus statement of the event should be posted on the prominent wall, which could be easily visible to every one. One of the posters can be posted near the time/space matrix which can be referred throughout the discussion. Copies of focus statement in different local languages (if required) can be posted along with the posters in main language of the event. Further, printed copies of the central theme or focus statement can be placed at each chair for the participants.

  7. Posters indicating the principles of OST and laws of mobility and pictures depicting these principles and laws can be posted in various locations of the hall. The program flow chart can be posted on the wall and should be visible to all the participants.

  8. The facilitator needs to prepare and provide the sets of markers, flip-charts, easels and other documentation materials for each breakout room/space. Additionally, flip-charts with the easel can be setup in corner of the main meeting room and each breakout room/spaces. This can be used for taking notes or sharing views during the breakout session.

  9. The facilitator should also check the extra materials required for any outdoor activities. S/he should also check the time required for this activity and plan accordingly.

     

In addition, there must be some common space where participants could meet and work being undisturbed and without disturbing others. These spaces can be arranged in some nooks and corners or lobby area of the main hall. In these spaces, the participants can meet and chat while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee.

 

Preparing Time/Space matrix (Marketplace)

 

Prepare a time/space matrix (marketplace) on the most prominently visible place of the hall. As the matrix function as the main agenda wall for the OST breakout sessions, it should be able to accommodate as many sessions one may expect during the gatherings. At minimum, it must have at least three different spaces for one time interval.Further, there might be occasion(s) where the possible number of topics or ideas to be proposed for discussion cannot be assessed in advance. To handle such situation, it is safe to prepare the time/space matrix for a maximum number(s) of topics expected. Ideally, there should be one session for every 8 to 10 participants.. There must also be some extra blank space in the left and bottom of the matrix to create more boxes, if required.

 

As we might start bit early or bit late than we have planned for, the time of the time/space matrix can be covered or leaved blank and can be opened only in the actual start time. This timing and duration can also be changed as per the available time, total number of topics proposed etc. . Thus, the boxes in the matrix should be able to accommodate at least one meta card each comfortably. A sample of time/space matrix (marketplace) is also provided in the Resources and Sample for Facilitator section.

 

 

Setting up the Newsroom, computers, printers and collaborative tools and techniques like wiki (it works) for documentation

 

OST gathering requires that the outcome of the OST breakout feather group discussions are properly documented, shared and disseminated as soon as these discussions are over. It also represents the effectiveness of OST and make participants responsible for self managing their outcomes. Thus, making arrangements for sufficient numbers of computers, printers and photocopiers for documenting these reports and making it accessible to all is important to increase the efficiency of the gathering and to make it productive. In some of the OS gatherings, networks like Internet and Intranet, as suitable and possible can be established to connect these computers. This enables participants to update their respective sections themselves into the designated space. It is advisable to setup a computer for every 8 to 10 people at comfortable distances. Additionally, external pen drives should be kept available for sharing notes and other relevant documents.

.

In many OST gatherings, online discussion list, wikisand weblogs (blogs) for initiating the discussions, documenting the discussions and reflecting the learning from the OST gathering are being used. While the online mailing discussion list is an useful tool to start a pre-Open Space gathering discussions and for sharing of views; wiki1 had been proved to be an useful tool for developing collaborative report of the proceedings; and the weblogs or blogs2 can be used for sharing personal experiences and reflections from the Open Space for long term memories. These proved to be a crucial tool for sharing a follow-up discussion(s) and the progress made in relation to the planned actions.

 

For making the discussions on the theme to be continued even after the conclusion of OST gathering in real time and space, it is advised that the host develops these online spaces in consultation with the facilitator(s)..

 

 

And be prepared for the surprises!

 

The OST is full of surprises. Many times, the organizers are not sure about the outcome(s) beforehand, in this kind of situations the OST had felicitated with remarkable ideas and actions ahead. Also, there is a possibility that the organizers might had also failed to derive expected outcome(s) because of their lack of understanding of the various dynamics and passion of the participants in that context. Thus, in OST the facilitators and the organizing team members should be prepared for surprises as the result that they had achieved might be completely different than that what they had expected while planning for the event.

 

***

1. for more information, see Resources and Sample for Facilitator or visit: http://www.auryn.nl

1 For more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki

2 For more information:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

In the above “Theory U” diagram, the various stages of the program flow process can be defined. The opening and framing session of the event can relate to the seeing the system; agenda setting session can relate to sensing the whole; open time and space for OST break out feather group discussions is deeper and more reflective and presencing process; the convergence session is an act of crystallizing of the topics; committing for action plan on these converged topics relates to prototyping/realization of new actions; and finally the conclusion relates to the final phase of “U” process of act, apply and embody. The following additional resources can be handy in guiding about this design process:

  1. The sample of schedule for two and half days OS event. (Refer in the Resources and Sample for Facilitator section)

  2. To plan the session flow and other process details, the Open Space planning and preparation process detail worksheet can be used. (Refer in the Resources and Sample for Facilitator section)

 

Preparing and planning Open Space background materials, reporting format, guidelines, stickers, other notes

 

In the first run of the OST, the participants finds that the OST is unstructured and it follows a self evolving process. This is possible because in the words of Harrison Owen, “....the OST inspires participation by being specific enough to indicate the direction, while possessing sufficient openness to allow for the imagination of the group to take over. ” Thus, there are few specific requirements which if provided, indicates the directions for smooth operations. Apart from the theme and other logistics, the background materials, guidelines of OST, reporting formats, instruction labels etc. are very helpful in assisting this self propagating process on its own course. Below are the lists of few materials that the facilitator can prepare in advance to assist the informed flow of the OST.

  1. Central theme of the OST gathering: 2-3 sets; to be placed preferably in long rectangular poster as per the space available. If some participants do not fully understand the language of the OST event in which the theme is written, than it should be translated in their local language as possible.

  2. OST principles and law of mobility : 2-3 sets poster of A4 size for each principles and laws.

  3. Pictures (if possible) of all OST principles and law of mobility to make it easily understandable.

  4. OST gathering program flow diagram: 2-3 sets on flip charts; this should highlight the flow of each day and a glimpse of the entire event. This can be depicted in diagrammatic manner also. For sample, refer to the resources and sample for facilitator section.

  5. Label for Time/Space matrix (Marketplace): 1 set in the main language of the event and corresponding other sets for other local language(s) with appropriate terminology for time/space matrix (marketplace).

  6. Label for each breakout room/spaces in as required in the time/space matrix: 2 sets in A4 size paper. The breakout room/spaces can be represented by capital letter of English alphabets like “A”, “B” and so on.

  7. Label for each breakout session with session number and time duration of that session for the time/space matrix: 2 sets in A4 size paper; the breakout session number can be represented by Numbers like “1”, “2” and so on with the designated time duration in the brackets below the session number.

  8. Label for Newsroom : 2-3 sets of A4 poster for indicating the room/space to be used as Newsroom.

  9. Label for News Wall: 2-3 sets of A4 poster for indicating the space where the discussion report will be posted for participants to read out.

  10. Documentation Details : 3-4 flip-chart size posters; It may have detail information, like for example: computer login details like, user name, password, folder location, URL of the wikis or blogs used for reporting the breakout sessions, etc.

  11. OST breakout session reporting format: 3-4 flip-charts with framework for reporting the OST breakout feather group discussion highlights. Also, photocopies of this format in A4 size paper in adequate numbers can be provided to participants for taking notes while these breakout feather group discussions are taking place. The sample of reporting format is provided in the Resources and Sample for Facilitator section.

  12. OST action plan reporting format: 3-4 flipcharts with framework for reporting the action plan on the converged topics of OST event. Also, photocopies of this format in adequate numbers can be provided to participants for taking notes while these sessions are taking place. The sample of reporting format is provided in the Resources and Sample for Facilitator section.

  13. Registration sheet : To be used for registration of participants for the OST event. It should include spaces for providing information related to participants and his/her contact details.

 

 

Preparing the venue: Setting up the space

 

An appropriate setup for an OST gathering plays a critical role in its success. Thus, the facilitator should have adequate time to oversee the hall setup and other arrangements of OST spaces. For this, s/he should arrive at the venue one night in advance or reasonably before the beginning of the OST gathering to arrange setup of the venue. Following setup needs to be completed before the arrival of the participants to the gathering:

  1. Arrange the chairs in a circle or in concentric circles to ensure that each individual participant will be sitting in a face-to-face posture with rest of the participants. This type of sitting arrangement enables equal participation and thereby promotes interaction. The center of the circle must be open and should have sufficient empty space for facilitators and participants to walk around. There should not be any podium, table or any other furniture placed inside the circle. Rather flip-charts, meta-cards, markers and tapes can be placed in the center of the circle for participants to write their ideas and topics in the OST session(s).

  2. The most prominent and empty base wall can be used as Agenda Wall. The base wall must be a clean, even and leveled surface, where one can use masking tape to paste other materials. This wall shall comprise of a time/space matrix for agenda setting and information about time management. One can use different color of masking tape to create this matrix. More details on how to organize this matrix can be found in later section of this chapter.

  3. One of the corners of the hall, lobby or a separate breakout room can be used to setup computers. This space can be labeled as Newsroom and participants can use this space for documenting their group discussions. Further details on setting up a newsroom can be found in following paragraphs in this chapter.

  4. Breakout room/space needs to be setup for OST breakout feather group discussions. Chairs can be arranged in a small circle for small group to meet and discuss their topic. This room/space must be labeled prominently. In case the room/space is outside the main hall, the clearly understandable directions arrows and venue diagram is helpful for the participants to reach the required room/space with minimum assistance required.

  5. OST gathering requires that the participants are not deviated or disturbed from flow of the discussion taking place. Thus, one of the common logistic arrangement for OST is setting up multiple outlets of self help table for teas, coffees, chocolates, cookies and other tidbits inside the meeting venue.

  6. The posters of the central theme or focus statement of the event should be posted on the prominent wall, which could be easily visible to every one. One of the posters can be posted near the time/space matrix which can be referred throughout the discussion. Copies of focus statement in different local languages (if required) can be posted along with the posters in main language of the event. Further, printed copies of the central theme or focus statement can be placed at each chair for the participants.

  7. Posters indicating the principles of OST and laws of mobility and pictures depicting these principles and laws can be posted in various locations of the hall. The program flow chart can be posted on the wall and should be visible to all the participants.

  8. The facilitator needs to prepare and provide the sets of markers, flip-charts, easels and other documentation materials for each breakout room/space. Additionally, flip-charts with the easel can be setup in corner of the main meeting room and each breakout room/spaces. This can be used for taking notes or sharing views during the breakout session.

  9. The facilitator should also check the extra materials required for any outdoor activities. S/he should also check the time required for this activity and plan accordingly.

     

In addition, there must be some common space where participants could meet and work being undisturbed and without disturbing others. These spaces can be arranged in some nooks and corners or lobby area of the main hall. In these spaces, the participants can meet and chat while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee.

 

Preparing Time/Space matrix (Marketplace)

 

 

Prepare a time/space matrix (marketplace) on the most prominently visible place of the hall. As the matrix function as the main agenda wall for the OST breakout sessions, it should be able to accommodate as many sessions one may expect during the gatherings. At minimum, it must have at least three different spaces for one time interval.Further, there might be occasion(s) where the possible number of topics or ideas to be proposed for discussion cannot be assessed in advance. To handle such situation, it is safe to prepare the time/space matrix for a maximum number(s) of topics expected. Ideally, there should be one session for every 8 to 10 participants.. There must also be some extra blank space in the left and bottom of the matrix to create more boxes, if required.

 

As we might start bit early or bit late than we have planned for, the time of the time/space matrix can be covered or leaved blank and can be opened only in the actual start time. This timing and duration can also be changed as per the available time, total number of topics proposed etc. . Thus, the boxes in the matrix should be able to accommodate at least one meta card each comfortably. A sample of time/space matrix (marketplace) is also provided in the Resources and Sample for Facilitator section.

 

 

Setting up the Newsroom, computers, printers and collaborative tools and techniques like wiki (it works) for documentation

 

OST gathering requires that the outcome of the OST breakout feather group discussions are properly documented, shared and disseminated as soon as these discussions are over. It also represents the effectiveness of OST and make participants responsible for self managing their outcomes. Thus, making arrangements for sufficient numbers of computers, printers and photocopiers for documenting these reports and making it accessible to all is important to increase the efficiency of the gathering and to make it productive. In some of the OS gatherings, networks like Internet and Intranet, as suitable and possible can be established to connect these computers. This enables participants to update their respective sections themselves into the designated space. It is advisable to setup a computer for every 8 to 10 people at comfortable distances. Additionally, external pen drives should be kept available for sharing notes and other relevant documents.

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In many OST gatherings, online discussion list, wikisand weblogs (blogs) for initiating the discussions, documenting the discussions and reflecting the learning from the OST gathering are being used. While the online mailing discussion list is an useful tool to start a pre-Open Space gathering discussions and for sharing of views; wiki1 had been proved to be an useful tool for developing collaborative report of the proceedings; and the weblogs or blogs2 can be used for sharing personal experiences and reflections from the Open Space for long term memories. These proved to be a crucial tool for sharing a follow-up discussion(s) and the progress made in relation to the planned actions.

 

For making the discussions on the theme to be continued even after the conclusion of OST gathering in real time and space, it is advised that the host develops these online spaces in consultation with the facilitator(s)..

 

 

And be prepared for the surprises!

 

The OST is full of surprises. Many times, the organizers are not sure about the outcome(s) beforehand, in this kind of situations the OST had felicitated with remarkable ideas and actions ahead. Also, there is a possibility that the organizers might had also failed to derive expected outcome(s) because of their lack of understanding of the various dynamics and passion of the participants in that context. Thus, in OST the facilitators and the organizing team members should be prepared for surprises as the result that they had achieved might be completely different than that what they had expected while planning for the event.

1 For more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki

2 For more information:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

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