At the start of the month we had our very first day-long Open Space session! In very simplified terms, it was a day where the entire company was invited to take a break from work, come together and discuss! How can an entire company stopping work for 1 day bring any meaningful ROI? Well from the solutions generated by our Titaners, they certainly had a lot of creative ideas or concerns on their minds which may never have had an avenue to be addressed without this session. Not forgetting the less measurable aspects like being able to mingle and share with other departments to gain new perspectives
Open Space is the only process that focuses on expanding time and space for the force of self-organisation to do its thing. Although one can’t predict specific outcomes, it’s always highly productive for whatever issue people want to attend to. Some of the inspiring side effects that are regularly noted are laughter, hard work which feels like play, surprising results and fascinating new questions.
— Michael M Pannwitz, Open Space practitioner
One month before the event our GM, Yves set the theme “ What can we as an organization as well as individuals do to support each other to grow?” ( Apt, as our motto is to “Never Stop Improving” ;)), this gave us ample time to think about what topics we’d like to raise at the session. As this was the first time conducting such a long Open Space session we also enlisted the help of Stuart and Stanly from ODD-E to facilitate the sessions.
To kickstart the day all participants gathered in our pantry and after a short opening briefing as well as a brief run through of the Open Space “principles” and “law” ( See the end of the article for descriptions!)
After that we swiftly moved into topic generation mode. Anyone could propose a question as long as it related to the theme of the day. The question could be something people wanted to share, discuss or even get answers to, it certainly wasn’t necessary that participants needed to have the answers to the questions they were proposing.
While it was a bit quiet at first everyone’s brains started to churn out topic after topic and before we knew it… the entire wall was slowly being filled up! Throughout the rest of the day participants could pop into any of the ongoing sessions at their choosing. Every session generated a flip-chart paper’s worth of information on things that had been discussed.. These papers were then stuck up all around our office, giving people the chance to read about what had happened in the sessions they missed.
At the end of all the topic discussions, everyone gathered to read the outcomes from each session. Then we voted based on two factors- topics we found the most exciting and topics we found the most important.
The topics with the most number of votes were selected and participants were encouraged to choose one of the topics and move to another room for further discussion for another 45 minutes.
Thereafter, everyone assembled back in the main room to share our outcomes from the brief further discussion sessions.We ended off with a closing session where anyone could step up and grab our ‘talking stick’ and say what they needed to say to end off the event!
I bet you’re curious as to what topics were discussed throughout the day and have listed a few here:
- Training packages for new comers
- How to read effectively
- What prevents you from growing as an individual?
- What can IT dept/ UX do to serve you?
- How do we build vulnerability based trust in teams?
- How can we update Jenkins to the next level?
- Are you interested in full stack PHP development?
Well that’s about it for our open space session! So far our various participants have taken their topics further by having follow up discussions and we can’t wait to see what the follow up outcomes will be!
Interested in hosting your own Open Space? Here are some tips from us!
- Have food available at all times! Participants should be able to focus on the events of the day without having the pop out of office if their tummies start to grumble
- Take a picture of the entire schedule and post it on your internal office communication channel, this makes it easy for everyone to not have to keep walking back to refer to the main wall
- Have ample room space for all the meetings, stock them with flip charts, post its, markers
- Just let things happen as they happen and have fun!
* 5 Principles and 1 Law of Open Space
- Whoever comes is the right people…reminds participants that they don’t need the CEO and 100 people to get something done, you need people who care. And, absent the direction or control exerted in a traditional meeting, that’s who shows up in the various breakout sessions of an Open Space meeting.
- Whenever it starts is the right time…reminds participants that “spirit and creativity do not run on the clock.”
- Wherever it is, is the right place…reminds participants that space is opening everywhere all the time. Please be conscious and aware. – Tahrir Square is one famous example. (Wherever is the new one, just added
- Whatever happens is the only thing that could have, be prepared to be surprised!…reminds participants that once something has happened, it’s done—and no amount of fretting, complaining or otherwise rehashing can change that. Move on. The second part reminds us that it is all good.
- When it’s over, it’s over (within this session)…reminds participants that we never know how long it will take to resolve an issue, once raised, but that whenever the issue or work or conversation is finished, move on to the next thing. Don’t keep rehashing just because there’s 30 minutes left in the session. Do the work, not the time.
- Law of Two feet… If at any time during our time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet, go someplace else.