I heard a veteran facilitator talking about Open Space earlier this month. Great wisdom. She said that there are 3 necessary conditions to make Open Space work. First, there are burning issues which the participants care collectively. Second, all participants join the event voluntarily. Third, the sponsor (who calls for the event) is really interested what may emerge from the process.
If these are in place, after giving the instruction, the facilitator should just sit on his / her hand and shut up. It is so true but not exactly easy to do.
To the contrary, an Open Space will surely fail if the participants as a community do not see any burning issue, some (if not all) of them are ‘forced’ to join the event and the sponsor calls for the event just for sake of doing it. For the last point, the worst is that the sponsor in fact has his / her solutions in mind already.
This post is a bit dated. But I still want to post it here since it is rather significant to me. The photos were taken in Gazipur, Bangladesh – the outskirt of Dhaka. I conducted a team development workshop there for 2 days. The event is significant to me in a number of ways:
- The workshop went very well. The sponsor and the participants were apparently satisfied and more importantly their relationship seemed to start changing. In the final 1-word check-out, one participant said ‘change’. He further elaborated that he now saw people differently. In addition, we arrived with very concrete Requests and Offers between leader and the team, with specific person and date for follow-up.
- It was the last workshop with my previous employer. It nicely marked the end. I am particularly happy that I end it with a piece of ‘real’ work. As I mentioned before here, I believe more and more that learning happens much more effectively when we get the learners do real stuff.
- Most importantly, I felt very grateful during the event. I was absorbed with what I did there. I felt like time just passed by so quickly. I was in the flow. People say everyone is borne for reasons. If that is the case, I really feel like I am borne to facilitate group work. Not that I am very good at it. Just that I like to do it so much.
I guess I am lucky.
A useful post on the HBR Blog – Create Human Connection in a Virtual Teams.
A reflection as I read through it…. on the idea of conducting ‘Check In’ to build human connection in virtual meeting. It is quite tricky. When I discussed this idea with leaders, their response is often ‘We do not have enough time for this’. This brings to 3 points:
- Someone shared a question with me before ‘Is it about efficiency or effectiveness?’
- There are different ways of Check-In instead of everyone on the call doing a ‘wedding speech’ . To be exact, there are more efficient ways to do so
- Check-In will work only if the leaders themselves believe in it, do it first and do it a few times. It is bound to be a bit odd the first time. If we do it just once and then drop it, it will probably ‘prove’ to be not useful.