A week ago I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of the Medinge Group, the world’s leading think tank on branding. The meeting took place in Amsterdam and was organized in an Open Space format. John Moore, Denzil Meyers and Malcolm Allan were the facilitators. I’ve heard of, and read about OS methods before, but this was my first hands-on experience with it.
I liked the method very much. It works very good for a group of people with diverse backgrounds and interests and passions. Also the fact that in the end a list of concrete actions was formulated including who would take those actions was a pleasant surprise at the end of a very pleasant day. I think that is what summarizes it best: a pleasant day where a lot of work was done. I was impressed with the relaxed and stress-free climate of it all, even if the people were engaged and passionate, and even while a lot of work was done.
Don’t be fooled when someone says Open Space builds on the absence of structure. It is in fact very much structured.
The structures just don’t become barriers at any time. (And if they were perceived to be barriers it would be easy to change them on the spot)
And the structures never interfere with the content/topics of discussion, they really are just structures of format.
Open Space, devised by Harrison Owen, works by 5 rules of thumb:
The basic out-line of the day was:
In stead of traditional agenda-setting:
In stead of traditional workshop sessions and minute-taking:
In stead of traditional plenary sessions where workshops results are presented:
In stead of deciding on the next steps and agenda by group consensus:
In stead of ending the meeting and evaluate during drinks:
I’ve suggested using Open Space for an upcoming brainstorming meeting between our company and a close partner for future joint initiatives, and I think it might be useful for the first Blogwalk meeting as well. If we could devise a way to do an Open Space meeting on-line (with multiple chatrooms perhaps, and a combination of other media?) it might be something for Actionable Sense as well.
For more information on Open Space see the Open Space wiki (via Chris Corrigan) and OpenSpaceTech-Wiki.