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...an invitation written by a client of mine for an upcoming OST meeting with local First Nations, local governments and others with an interest in the Aboriginal land question in a suburb of Vancouver. --ChrisCorrigan?

Connecting the Pieces; Leaders in Action ...will rely upon Open Space Technology (OST), which was created in the mid-1980s by organizational consultant Harrison Owen.

OST events have no keynote speakers, no pre-announced schedules of workshops, no panel discussions, no organizational booths. Instead, sitting in a large circle, participants learn in the first hour how to create their own agenda.

To initiate a workshop within OST, participants propose topics by writing them on large sheets of paper which they post on a wall marked off with pre-established times and places for small-group meetings. When participants have posted their topics, a 'village marketplace' begins: participants mill around the wall, choosing their personal schedules for the remainder of the event. Group meetings start immediately. There are no leaders; those who proposed topics act as recorders whose informal minutes form a basis for the report and recommendations, which sum up the work of the group.

OST is more highly organized than the best planning committee could possibly manage. It is also chaotic, productive, and fun. No one is in control; rather, a handful of simple OST principles guide group activity.

The most basic principle is that everyone who comes to an OST event must be interested in the topic that draws the group together and willing to take responsibility for contributing to the group activity of creating something out of that interest.

Four key principles are...

Another OST principle is the Law of Two Feet: “If you find yourself in a situation where you are not learning or contributing, go somewhere else. This principle includes the possibility of assuming responsibility either for moving the group to another level of awareness and participation or for leaving one group and moving to another.

Discussion of the most powerful issues can go on for days of intense conversation. Meals and coffee breaks become “come-when-you-can* affairs, and even these interludes may turn into extended, enthusiastic discussion. The process creates a unique spirit of community--considering that each of the participants is doing exactly what he or she chooses to do.

Why Open Space Technology?

Through an intentional combination of order and chaos, OST resembles the creative act of a mind moving from confusion and frustration to assimilation and discovery, but OST achieves this transition not in one mind, but simultaneously in several. Intense, focused discussion leads to mutual recognition of areas of agreement and disagreement, and thus lays the ground for knowledgeable participation in the action program that concludes with the publication of a full report on the group's findings.

During an OST event

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Last edited December 31, 2002 3:35 pm CentralTimeUSA by MichaelHerman
© 1998-2019 Michael Herman and www.michaelherman.com, unless signed by another author or organization. Please do not reprint or distribute for commercial purposes without permission and full attribution, including web address and this copyright notice. Permission has always been granted gladly to those who contact me and say something about themselves, their work, and their use of these materials. Thank you and good luck! - Michael