"Everything comes from the generation of odd and even" (Plato)

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We plan to create an "intercultural networking forum" for local and expatriate company employees and executives, involved in cross-border mobility or alliance integration issues. It should offer an opportunity to meet and network across cultures, as well as to exchange ideas on solving cross-cultural challenges in international trade. The forum should contain an educational facet as well as be a cross-company international networking opportunity at an informal low budget level.

For larger groups focussed on solving specific issues we run Open Space Meetings. Open Space is designed to be the simplest self-organising methodology for all people to use. In other words, if 10 or 50 or 1000 people meet with deep and different experiences surrounding a challenging issue Open Space can:

  1. Maximise use of their time and conversation
  2. Involve everyone's good spirited participation in openly designing a communal leadership process that has the best chance of working for everyone
  3. At the very least develop a continuing network of respect for the issue and all across the people who came to try to resolve it.

What is an Open Space Technology?

An Open Space Gathering is a unique kind of meeting or conference in which the participants create their own programme of self-managed sessions (such as discussion groups, experiential workshops, ideas sessions and planning meetings) related to a central theme, such as: What are the issues and opportunities facing the XYZ Corporation?

Open Space Gatherings allow diverse and often very large groups of people to get together, discuss issues of heartfelt concern, share ideas, pool their knowledge and develop plans for collaborative action. There are no invited speakers, and just one facilitator to explain the procedure and facilitate the plenary sessions.

Open Space Gatherings are particularly effective when complex or conflict-ridden issues must be resolved very quickly, and when people need to work together as equals to decide how they will bring something new into being or bring about a mutually-desired change. A prerequisite is that the focal issue or theme must be of genuine concern to all those involved, as participation is normally voluntary. The participant group can be of any size, from twelve people to a thousand or more, and the gathering is usually held over one, two or three days.

Overview of an Open Space Gathering

  • Briefing
  • Creating the agenda
  • Sign-up
  • Sessions
  • Session reports
  • Action planning
  • Reflection

Open Space Gatherings are typically held to create a new vision, figure out how to implement a strategy, plan a significant change, solve a complex or intractable problem, invent a new product, or prepare for community action. Increasingly they are also used by organisations as an alternative or adjunct to their annual conferences. The most tangible output from an Open Space Gathering is set of written reports, one for each session, usually with action points. An action planning process can be run after the Open Space Gathering to establish ongoing action teams and thereby help maintain momentum.

An Open Space Gathering is not:

  • A brainstorming session (people discuss their heartfelt concerns)
  • A glorified suggestions session (the emphasis is on taking personal responsibility)
  • A complaints session (ditto)
  • A ‘jolly’ (An Open Space Gathering involves high play, but also high learning)
  • Total anarchy (there is appropriate structure and appropriate control
  • Open Space Technology

Harrison Owen, originator of Open Space Technology (the methodology behind Open Space Gatherings) says: "At the very least, Open Space Technology is a fast, cheap, and simple way to better, more productive meetings. At a deeper level, it enables people to experience a very different quality of organisation in which self-managed work groups are the norm, leadership is a constantly shared phenomenon, diversity becomes a resource to be used instead of a problem to be overcome, and personal empowerment is a shared experience. It is also fun. In a word, conditions are set for fundamental organisational change."

The Open Space approach in intercultural settings is particularly useful where there are a large number of people who need to resolve issues, e.g. post-merger integration, joint venture. An example would be creating a new vision for an international merger, accepted by all cultures involved.

Open Space meetings in an international setting are particularly useful where there are a large numberof people who need to resolve a number of related issues, e.g. post merger integration, joint venture. An example would be creating a new company vision, accepted by all, in an international operation.


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Transcultural Synergy Ltd
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8133 5211