Open Space Technology | Harrison Owen

Summary of: Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide
By: Harrison Owen


Dive into the world of Open Space Technology (OST) with Harrison Owen’s book, ‘Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide’. This summary unveils the power of OST in encouraging effective communication, collaboration, and creative problem-solving in diverse situations, driven by passion and responsibility. Discover the key components of its methodology, such as the circle, bulletin board, and marketplace, while encountering real-life examples that demonstrate its transformative impact in diverse settings, including education, businesses, and even communities plagued by conflict. Whether you’re facing complex challenges or looking to enhance synergy within your organization, the insights offered in this guide will equip you with the principles and strategies needed to unlock the potential of OST in your own context.

Open Space Technology

Open Space Technology (OST) is a methodology that can be adapted to any setting and depends on four basic components. These components are meeting in a circle, having open and enthusiastic communication, using a bulletin board to identify interests, and creating a marketplace where people can share interests. OST has been used in various conferences and can bring a level of synergy and excitement to meetings. The fundamental geometry of open human communication is the circle, which ensures that everyone is equal, and people can simply be with each other – face to face. Harrison Owen, the organizer of an international conference, coined the term OST. He realized that coffee breaks had the level of synergy and excitement that makes a good meeting and saw that an event could be organized like a productive open space program. With OST, participants guide themselves, making it a powerful way to get things done well.

Building Collaboration with Open Space Technology

Open Space Technology (OST) is a proven method of bringing together diverse groups of people and breaking through communication barriers. The U.S. Forest Service successfully used OST to eliminate its command-and-control approach, while the TELCEL Venezuelan cellular phone company used it to avoid collapse. Additionally, this technique works well in unveiling previously unspoken business concerns for discussion, allowing everyone involved to have the responsibility of adding topics to the agenda. OST is particularly suitable for working through conflicts and confusion, making it a valuable tool towards building collaboration among teams, even in the most challenging circumstances.

Unleashing Passion and Responsibility in Open Space Technology

Open Space Technology (OST) is an effective approach to bring diverse people together for complex and conflicting business issues. However, it is not suitable if you already know the answer or want to control the search for the answer. OST evokes creativity, self-motivation, and synergy, making it appropriate for encouraging people to work together in a passionate and responsible way. Before implementing OST, determine if it is appropriate for your company and if there is a real business issue to solve. Define the focus of the program and ensure the voluntary participation of passionate and responsible individuals. Using OST can help speak the unspeakable and address important business issues.

Engaging OST Participants

To make OST work, participants should be self-selected and genuinely interested in the issue at hand. The conference will be more effective with a small, committed group, but it can still work with five people or a thousand. Face-to-face interaction is ideal, but cyberspace can also be utilized to include more people.

Creating Productive Discussions: Open Space Technology

Open Space Technology is a powerful approach to creating effective and productive discussions among diverse groups. To begin, invitations should be kept short and simple to stimulate the imagination of participants. When planning an OST event, ensure that the space selected includes a large main room for participants to sit together in a circle, an open wall for a bulletin board, and breakout spaces for smaller group meetings. During the event, focus solely on the OST activity and avoid diluting the group’s focus with other interruptions. Providing necessary supplies such as masking tape, colored ink markers, flip charts, and Post-it notes will encourage creativity and motivation among participants. The length of the event should be determined based on its purpose and participants’ energy levels. Overall, open space technology inspires synergy and self-motivation, making it an effective and innovative way to address complex issues.

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