Open Space Technology (OST) is a workshop format that allows a group of people to work through a complex set of issues in a finite amount of time. The time is typically from half-a-day to three days for a workshop. To run OST there must be a well defined question or problem statement. Then OST will allow a group of people to have all the conversations that need, to document all those conversations, to cooperate with all the right people, and to reach a shared consensus on the best way forward.
OST is an Open Source technology, originally invented by Harrison Owen in 1985. It has since been successfully used throughout the world for over twenty years for workshops on subjects as diverse as international conflict, to technology problems, to discussions on new organizational solutions.
OST is typically the right solution when:
– The topic or question can be well defined in a single statement.
– But no one knows the answer!
– The problem is too complex for a small number of people to solve.
– Involving people in finding the solution is the right answer ..
– A group of people who do not normally meet need to be brought together to solve the problem
– Time pressure would need to move away from the usual ways of working.
– People are passionate about the outcome.
– There is a sense of ownerships for the problem and for the potential solution.
30-1000 People are involved.
OST is NOT good when:
– Someone knows the answer and is waiting for people to agree!
– The problem can not be defined
– There is no real will or passion to solve the problem.
– OST is not ideal for less than 30 people in our experience.
– There is no owner for the problem or for the solution.
Stephen Hinde, director of Business With Heart has a long experience of running successful OST workshops in a number of sectors: including the Arts, Technology companies, and local government.
In order to run a great OST workshop there is always a requirement for good preparation, a great event in the middle, and good follow-up in order to maximize the impact and relevance of the workshop to your organization. We will tailor it to your needs and guide you through the whole life-cycle of the workshop.
Please contact us to discuss OST and for a no obligation consultancy to find out if OST is the right solution for you.
© Stephen Hinde, Business With Heart, January 2009