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Open Space Technology

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Description[edit]

Open Space Technology being used in Humboldt County, California.

Open Space Technology (OST) is an innovative, interactive and powerful meeting method to enable groups of people to deal with issues constructively and speedily. First introduced in 1984 by Harrison Owen, it has now been successfully used all over the world with corporations, community groups, government agencies and churches. Participants have numbered from 5 to 1000s. It is particularly successful in situations where there are many issues (complexity), many perspectives (diversity), a desire to generate new and more effective ways of working and an urgency for action. The process is unique. In Open Space meetings, participants are invited to identify any issue around a central theme of strategic importance for which they have some genuine passion and are prepared to take personal responsibility. With the issue in mind they come to the center of the circle, write their issue on a piece of paper, announce it to the group, and post the paper on the wall. They create and manage their own agenda of parallel working sessions. When all the issues that anyone cares to identify have surfaced, the group is invited to go to the wall, sign up for the issues important to them, and get to work. From that point on the group is self-managing. As the groups meet, reports of their activities are generated, and at the conclusion, all reports are posted. By the end, all important issues will have been discussed, related issues converged, initial action steps identified; and a plan for recording and distributing the meeting notes will be in place.

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