The Role of the Facilitator
The ideal open space facilitator, so the story goes, is fully present and totally invisible. Until that ideal is fully realized, the open space facilitator may be seen doing these things:
- Support planning conversations and leadership preparation to address the whole range of pre-event issues:
- Strategic issue(s) or purpose for the meeting/event
- Identification of the non-negotiable "givens" within which participants will be invited to work
- Drafting of the invitation document and method of distribution
- Development of the invitation list and process of registration
- Determination of event location and timing
- Answer emergent questions about design, process, outcomes, logistics
- Clarify assumptions and expectations about what we know and do not know about what will happen during our time together in open space
- Coach sponsors of event on how to answer questions from invited participants
- Review the invitation, once it has been produced as a draft by the sponsoring organization(s) and/or planning committee. Suggest language for a meeting "agenda", if such a thing is required for publication.
- Visit the space proposed for the OS, meet site staff, and confirm availability of essential needs, tape-able wall space, open space for circle, breakout spaces.
- Supply a detailed list of required materials and equipment and supporting their acquisition as necessary.
- Set-up the facility before the event, including conversation with hotel/site staff to help them understand and work most easily with the open space environment.
- Prepare a single sponsor/leader to open the space, introduction and 3-minute story of how we got to this moment of opening.
- Facilitate the event, including opening agenda-making session, morning and evening news sessions, voting and prioritization of issues, next steps planning, and closing circle. This is usually the most visible and least time-consuming part of the facilitator's work.
- Coordinate the production of a proceedings document for all participants
- Create proceedings document with cover, invitation, ballot, notes, participant list
- Coordinate gathering and compilation of notes from workings sessions
- Deliver finished document for overnight copying, pickup and distribute copies
- Add "next steps" action-planning session notes to main document
- Enable ongoing open space via website, email list and/or .PDF documents
- Debrief with planners/leaders at the end of each day, as needed.
- Facilitate a 3- to 4-hour follow-up meeting, 6 to 8 weeks later, with leaders, conveners and/or others, to see what has happened with "next steps" and determine what, if any additional steps should be undertaken. Better yet... hold a 2-day training and practice workshop and teach a bunch of people to facilitate the immediate next steps and next meetings to follow the first big event.
For a deeper view, see also HoldingSpaceForTransformation.
Thanks to Michael M Pannwitz, in Berlin, for the email message that provided inspiration and the beginning content for this page.