Case Study help

Michael Herman mherman at
Wed Aug 11 17:49:42 PDT 1999

hello anne,

just a few notes to add to sheila's posting, as i was helping out there,

here are the proceedings posted online:

and while it has yet to be finished and announced, there is an online
forum that shows how this might be extended:

then there is harrison's story of the highway project on tribal lands in
the western US.  from the original user's guide...

On the 21st of April 1992, 225 people (or thereabouts) gathered for a
two-day meeting to develop cooperative arrangements for the effective
expenditure of one and one-half billion dollars designated for highway
construction on tribal and public lands. Roughly one-third of these
people were Native Americans, one-third federal bureaucrats, and
one-third from state and local governments. On the face of it, the
prospects for a peaceful, let alone productive, meeting seemed less than
bright. The participants were all natural, if not historical, enemies.
As a matter of fact, the results were rather surprising.
In the course of the two-day meeting, that diverse group created, and
totally self-managed, an agenda built around some 52 different task
groups. The agenda was created in less than one hour, and the various
task groups produced about 150 pages of proceedings in 36 hours. Thanks
to the wonders of modern computers coupled with overnight printing,
copies of the final proceedings rolled hot off the press in time for the
departure of all participants on the morning of the third day. During
the concluding session, one of the Native Americans said that never
before had he felt so listened to and so much a part of the discussions.
The feeling was shared by all parties.
It is also noteworthy that the decision to hold the meeting was made in
March in the same year. Thus, the whole idea went from conception to
delivery in about six weeks. There was one facilitator for the total
Stated in bald terms, these claims for the April meeting may sound
extreme, if not outrageous. For the conventional wisdom says, and
everybody knows, that creating a meeting of such size, complexity, and
potential for conflict takes months of preparation and an army of
planners and facilitators. Furthermore, the notion that the proceedings
not only could be completed but delivered to the participants prior to
departure is going a little too far. Unfortunately for the conventional
wisdom, the event took place exactly as described, and more than that,
this was not the first such event. Over the past eight years dozens of
gatherings have taken place with similar results. While the experience
may not yet be commonplace, it is definitely not a fluke. It is
repeatable. It is called Open Space Technology.

cheers, m


Michael Herman
...inviting leadership in evolving organizations

Michael Herman Associates
300 West North Avenue #1105
Chicago IL 60610
312-280-7838 voice
312-280-7837 fax
mherman at

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