Knowledge must come through action.
Open Space Technology
The goal of an Open Space Technology meeting is to create time and space for people to engage deeply and creatively around issues of concern to them. The agenda is set by people with the power and desire to see it through. Typically, Open Space meetings result in transformative experiences for the individuals and groups involved. It is a simple and powerful way to catalyse effective working conversations and to truly invite organisations to thrive in times of swirling change.
The Circle Practice
What transforms a meeting into a circle is the willingness of people to shift from informal socialising or opinionated discussion into a receptive attitude of thoughtful speaking and deep listening and to embody and practice the structures outlined here.
What is circle good for?
One of the beautiful things about circle is its adaptability to a variety of groups, issues, and timeframes. Circle can be the process used for the duration of a gathering, particularly if the group is relatively small and time for deep reflection is a primary aim. Circle can also be used as a means for “checking in” and “checking out” or a way of making decisions together, particularly decisions based on consensus. Be creative with circle and be ready for the deep wisdom it can uncover!
The World Café
The World Café is a method for creating a living network of collaborative dialogue around questions that matter in real life situations. It is a provocative metaphor. As we create our lives, our organisations, and our communities, we are, in effect, moving among ‘table conversations’ at the World Café.
Operating Principles of World Cafe:
- Create hospitable space
- Explore questions that matter
- Encourage each person’s contribution
- Connect diverse people and ideas
- Listen together for patterns, insights and deeper questions
- Make collective knowledge visible
What is World Café Good For?
World Café is a great way of fostering interaction and dialogue with both large and small groups. It is particularly effective in surfacing the collective wisdom of large groups of diverse people. The café format is very flexible and adapts to many different purposes—information sharing, relationship building, deep reflection exploration and action planning.
While answers tend to bring us to closure, questions open up to exploration.
Asking the Right Question
Asking the right question is the most effective way of opening up a conversation and keeping it engaging. A high-quality question focuses on what is meaningful for the participants, triggers our curiosity and invites us to explore further.
When inviting people into a conversation that matters, it is helpful to have an overall question—one that itself embodies the purpose of the meeting. This is the key question or the calling question for the conversation. The calling question is best formulated together with key stakeholders.
The conversation may include other questions than the calling question. The questions you choose—or that people discover during conversation—are critical to its success.
Some guidelines for choosing questions:
- A well-crafted question attracts energy and focuses attention on what matters. Experienced hosts recommend asking open-ended questions, not ones that have a simple yes/no answer.
- Good questions invite inquiry and curiosity. They do not need to promote action or problem solving immediately.
- You’ll know a good question when it continues to surface good ideas and possibilities.
- Check possible questions with key people who will take part in a conversation. Does it hold their attention and energy?
A powerful question:
- Is simple and clear
- Is thought provoking
- Generates energy
- Focuses inquiry
- Challenges assumptions
- Opens new possibilities
- Evokes more questions
A powerful question focuses Attention, Intention and Energy