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Tom Devane is a consultant, author, and co-author of provocative bestselling books on achieving extraordinary results using methods that systematically engage people in organizations and communities.
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    A leader's guide to blending technical and people aspects of performance improvement.

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    Thursday
    Dec012011

    Open Space -- An Overview

    Open Space is a fast, simple way to get high-quality outcomes in terms of action plans, learning, and improved decisions.
     

    Key outcomes 

    • Increased learning, and 
    • Robust, comprehensive action plans for complex issues in a self-managed environment
    • Extraordinary energy for implementing the action plans, and built in accountability.

    Sample client uses

    I’ve used Open Space sessions to have people conduct critical conversations and develop action plans for the implementation of a new enterprise-wide business software system, gather inputs for the development of a new product, identify key considerations for an upcoming organizational restructuring, and formulate strategies for entering new markets.
     

    Time investment

    Preparation: From 1 hour to 12 hours, and the space "opens" with the first conversation"
    Session time: 4 hours to 3 days
    Follow-up: Ongoing
     

    Number of participants

    5 to 2,000
     

    General flow

    There is no set agenda for an Open Space session.  The convener kicks the session off with some initial groundrules and comments on the flow of the Open Space event.  There is a priming question that seeks to stimulate thought around a particular topic of strategic significance.  Participants develop an agenda of based on topics they have passion about and wish to discuss, then people break into small groups, and then develop action plans.  All small group conversations and recorded and made available after the event (key points are broadcast during the event for all to hear, and take into consideration in their conversations and action planning.

     

    For more information

    Additional information is available in The Change Handbook (Berrett-Koehler, 1999, 2004). Open Space information can be obtained economically by just purchasing the Open Space electronic chapter of The Change Handbook.  Other great sources of information are the Wikipedia entry  and the Open Space website

     

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