owen at tmn.com
Thu Dec 17 05:42:18 PST 1998
At 07:29 PM 12/16/1998 EST, you wrote:
>Hello out there. I must say that I am very excited about doing OST, but am
>running up a bit of a stumbling block right out of the chute. I was thinking
>of doing a "demo" OST to potential clients, but after reading the warnings on
>the listserve to not do such a "foolish" thing, I'm left with puzzlement
>how one goes about selling this thing to potential clients, without them
>"tasting" it first. It could be viewed as a bit of a "pig in a poke." What
>would really help me is suggestions from all of you about what works and what
>doesn't regarding selling an OST meeting to prospects who have never seen
>a thing. Looking forward to your response. Thanks in advance.
I have never tried to sell Open Space -- at least in my understanding of
the word "sell." But I have absolutely no problem in telling folks what it
can do. Specifically, you can promise, and deliver the following (in a 2
and 1/2 day Open Space): 1) Every issue of concern to anybody will be on
the table. 2) All issues will receive the discussion people care to give
them. 3) A full report of those discussion will be available to all. 4)
Priorities will be established identifying the "high energy issues." 5)
Related issues will be converged. 6) Immediate "Next Steps" will be
outlined and parceled out for implementation. That is a promise.
But be prepared for plenty of skepticism. Every group that I have ever
worked with always says in one way or another -- "It looks great, but it
will never work with this group." Ultimately the folks will have to make
their own decision. However, that decision can be helped a little bit by
two things. Show them some examples of where it has been done, and those
examples are multiple and public, including full page features in such
radical publications as the New York Times. They still may not believe you,
but at least they can't say it has never happened. The second thing is to
keep your eye out for situations where Open Space is especially appropriate
-- situations characterized by a) High levels of complexity in terms of
issues. b) high levels of diversity in terms of the people involved, c)the
presence of conflict. and d) a decision time of yesterday.
And just remember, most people really don't care about the process -- they
care about getting something done. So I avoid if at all possible any
attempt to explain it, unless they really want to know. At that point, you
might find my book "Expanding Our Now: The Story of Open Space" Helpful.
Good luck h.
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