Just occasionally an issue turns up that generates huge interest with large numbers of people wanting to have their say. Conventional meeting formats with 'top table' don't work in these conditions - too many people want to speak but can't, others when they get the their 2 minutes or whatever is allotted to them can't make the point they want quickly enough or are tongue tied and either way, end up as frustrated as if they had never spoken at all.
Open Space seems to offer a way through this problem. I have never run such a meeting although I have participated. I didn't personally find it as liberating as I had hoped, but the Open Space element was only about 90 minutes out of the day, which may have been the problem. Chris Corrigan who runs this site, also has a blog, offering comments and thoughts from the work he is doing.
Open Space operates under four principles and one law. The four principles are:
- Whoever comes are the right people
- Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.
- When it starts is the right time
- When it's over it's over
The Law is known as the Law of Two Feet:
"If you find yourself in a situation where you are not contributing or learning, move somewhere where you can."
The four principles and the law work to create a powerful event motivated by the passion and bounded by the responsibility of the participants.
The experiences Chris records seem to suggest that in the right circumstances, the process can be very liberating and satisfying for participants.
If anyone has experiences to share of this process, please get in touch.