Strategic Planning in Open Space

Murli rismurli at
Wed Oct 20 17:50:09 PDT 1999

Dear OS Friends

I am a recent 'convert' to open space, having used it very successfully now
for a number of stakeholder consultataion forums in nearlly every state of
Australia and two planning forums for small close knit teams of workers.

I am wanting to utilsie open space now for small organisations where there
are at most five workers, a volunatray management committee and a set of
other stakeholders - who will not necessarily action a strategic plan. I
have the opportunity to use OS with ten such organisations (learning
partnerships between schools and industry).

Below is an outline of a process. I would appreciate any feedback from the
wisdom of the group. My main questions are as follows:

1. I've seen open space work well for staff teams that work together on a
day to day basis. The passion and responsibilitiy flows back into the
workplace. What happens when you have a governing group such as a
Board/Management Committee who particpate in setting directions, but are
not necessarily the ones who action it. Similarly with other stakeholders
who may have useful input, but then don't stay around. OST seems to risk a
great set of ideas and discssions occuring and then all the actions picked
up by the small staff group.

2. The staff are overworked and the Boards are voluntary and the business
people in particlaur have little time to give. Two and three days OS are
out of the question. What sort of processes over time can you use to pull a
strategic plan together in OS (what do you think of the idea below?)

3. Can you use OS to generate the ideas and then have a passionate group
use that material to write up a s/plan. Where does the detail (eg budgets,
marketing plans) get filled in using OS?

4. Are there other ways to docuemnt a strategic plan that comes out of OS,
other than the usual vision, mission, values, goals, strategies, actions,
performance measures ...?? (I'm so bored of this! and I think others are
too, but its still a useful model). Any experiences welcome.

My suggested process:

Stage 1. Preparation: do all the environmental analysis before hand to
generate a minimum knowledge base (ie. needs analysis, competition,
evaluation of past performance, stakeholder map etc). Circulate with open
invitation and theme eg "What are the issues and opportunities for the
future of [the organisation]?"

Stage 2: Large stakeholder forum 1/2 day in OS on the theme. Or if not
practical then a 1/2 day in OS with Board and staff.

Stage 3: One 3hr meeting in OS with a sub-group including staff to develop
the vision, mission, startegies and performance indicators.

Stage 4: Executive Officer and facilitator to write up the outcomes into a
strategic and business plan, filling in the detail.

ANy thoughts most welcome. Thanks for your time and energy.

Warm regards


Suggested Process to
Andrew Donovan
Business Facilitator
tel +61 3 9416 3021
fax +61 3 9416 2935
PO Box 1705
Collingwood  VIC  3066

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