Strategic Planning in Open Space

David Koehler Nsdmk at
Thu Oct 21 12:21:27 PDT 1999


I use OS to do our annual retreat for our labor-management organization.  We
are a not-for-profit with volunteer board members and a small staff, namely
me.  We use a third party to open the space, this way I can be part of the
discussion.  I feel that it works quite well, but the key is that we operate
in an OS format in general, so opening space for our retreat isn't seen as a
separate event, but rather a continuation.  Also, we do it in a half day,
actually two half days, two months a part.  After the initial session, I put
together the notes from the event and we get back in open space to discuss
the issues in terms of priority.

Another experience I have had with a community OS event is two years ago our
town did a OS on neighborhoods (Neighborhood Summit).  After the three
evening event, drawing more than 400 people, we simply put all the issues in
categories, which we constantly use as a reference to what the community
wants to do.  The event produced 75 discussion groups and 114 pages of notes.
 By categories I mean crime; housing; education; youth activities, etc.
Again, the key is that the Neighborhood Development Commission, which
sponsored the event, continues to operate in an open space atmosphere.  We
currently have more than 150 neighborhood people in 15 ad hoc committees.

The process works in an open space way in that anyone, at anytime can request
an ad hoc committee on any issue related to neighborhoods.  The commission
then approves it, only for the stated task, and assigns two commission
members to work with the group.  City staff is then assigned and has the
responsibility of meeting space and times, and notification of the media,
since we are subject to open meeting act (which legally means that all
government sponsored meetings have to be open to the public).  Once the
groups meets and comes to a conclusion and/or recommendation, a report is
made to the Commission and the committee is disolved, and we're on to the
next ad hoc committee.  Again, I need to stress that the original report of
the Neighborhood Summit is used as a reference point and a guide.

I hope that some of this has been helpful.  The main point I'm trying to make
is that OS works best when it's not just an event, but an ongoing way of life.

Dave Koehler
Peoria Area Labor Management Council
Peoria, Illinois USA

More information about the OSList mailing list