Working in Open Space  

When used well, Open Space Technology offers a powerful means of bringing together large numbers of people to share experiences and insights and find common ground that they can build on. However, it does need to be used well, with a deep commitment to the simplicity of its self-organising principles. Over-facilitation can leave participants in so-called Open Space events puzzled, frustrated and disappointed. 

 

PublicServiceWorks partner, Roma Iskander was one of the early practitioners of Open Space in the UK, having trained with the founder of the method, Harrison Owen, in the early 1990s. She is in demand as a specialist practitioner and, along with fellow PublicServiceWorks partner Sheila Marsh, also runs highly rated training in the method for people to lead and commission Open Space events.

Working in Open Space with Maternity Voices Partnership, Lewisham 

Working in Open Space with WildlifeDirect 

We have worked with MVP Lewisham over several years on a range of support. In October 2020 we facilitated an Open Space event for the partnership focused on 'Time to Get It Right' in maternity services for Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority people, given the shocking figures on maternal death and injury among these groups. A large event brought service users adn professional together via Zoom to generate practical ideas to improve things. The event was very well received and soon talked about across London and in maternity services more broadly. One concrete action developed as a result is an infographic for women to encourage them to seek help early in their pregnancy without scaring them about the risks; this came from an active working group who spent much time getting the text and images just right: 

We have worked with Wildlife Direct since 2016 on a range of projects featuring Open Space Technology. most recently we facilitated 3 events via Zoom in June 2020, focused on rhe next ten year plan for Nairobi National Park. these were a huge success involving 400 people and producing clear recommendations for the government agency involved.

Read about this here.

 

Kenya-based NGO WildlifeDirect is committed to ‘changing hearts, minds and laws to ensure Africa’s critical species endure forever’. Their campaigns have generated unprecedented local support for conservation. Working with WildlifeDirect, PublicServiceWorks has led major Open Space events to build on and develop this local support further.

In 2016, an event explored a national issue – the challenges of infrastructure development within a national park – in a gathering of 250 people. This video produced by WildlifeDirect gives a vivid sense of how clarity can emerge from complexity.

The event report can be accessed here >>

As shown in the video, this Open Space attracted around 750 people, both adults and school students, spanning a wide range of individuals and organisations. All wanted to have their say about matters of great importance to them. Naturally, the issues and perspectives varied widely; but the structure and positive ambience of the event encouraged participants to listen carefully to different viewpoints, looking where possible for common ground. Priorities for action were then identified, and decisions taken on what local people wanted to do themselves and how other partners could contribute.

 

The video shows how immediate priorities for food and water meshed with aspirations for longer term excellence in education, technology and sustainable living.

 

The event report can be accessed here >>