Healing Between Two Factions |
I would heartily recommend a one or two-day Open Space process. Each time we have used it in parallel situations, the process has had positive effects on the organization. It has served to begin the healing of scars resulting from ”conflict.” It has given the people involved a place to ”stand” and be fully heard. The things that need to be said are given voice. The points of view, and even passions, of others are heard.
The OS process builds community. It has been used in many situations where the whole system needs to be together to resolve a tough issue. It is used to build shared vision, create practical action plans, build commitment for application of strategy or vision, and to implement immediate action on issues that require the alignment of the entire organization. (Of course OS needs to be eventually supported with other ongoing learning.)
But even further, the process has a deep systemic design that brings out the important topics and issues required for building a future that includes collaboration between the two ”factions.” The process works because it doesn't ask two points of view to be homogenized or compromised. It works because both points of view -- indeed all points of view -- are needed to build an organization that has richness, variety, and sustainability. In this instance, collaboration is defined as working together interdependently to bring out each other's strengths.
Open Space requires minimal preparation on the part of the organization. A facility that can handle the entire organization, or large portions of the organization is required. An invitation to attend is issued. The facilitation and process design brings it all together. If desired, a proven process that uses laptops to collect the conversations into a single document ready for publication by the end of the OS event can be employed.
Longer Open Space processes are recommended, yet one-day events work quite well. Two days provide more time for building the bridges. The Open Space process is quite simple on the surface. However, the success comes from its design and the open, inclusive facilitation.
The group is convened in an opening community session where the atmosphere of safety and trust is established. People are then asked to volunteer/host topics that need some serious conversation in order for the organization to move forward. Usually 30-40 topics are quickly put forward from a modest sized group. A self-organization process follows whereby people decide when to host the topics and how to arrange their day in attendance at some of the sessions.
Usually there are two morning time ”slots” and two afternoon time ”slots” with 8-10 or so concurrent sessions in each of these time slots. There is a constant mixing of people throughout the day with plenty of opportunity to voice concerns and to fully hear one another. The day closes in a community session and dialogue. People begin to deeply understand that they need each other to continue their journey together.
Open Space builds the bridge to the future by building a different, or new, type of bridge. OS connects the past, the present, and the preferred future of each individual into a single unbroken continuum. The OS process continues to weave these individual continuums together, forming a fabric made up of each person's strand. This fabric becomes the web of context that gives truth, trust, and meaning to the joint exploration of shared future. OS plants the seeds for the future so that the preferred future grows brighter and richer with every passing day.
© CCA 1998