Open Space Technology
Reflective Structured Dialogue (Public Conversations)
Group Facilitation & Dialogue
As facilitation and dialogue experts, we use innovative, carefully designed models to help groups, organizations, and communities struggling with conflict.
We begin with an in-depth needs assessment and diagnostic work. Then, our team customizes a dialogue process for your specific group or organization, and, if applicable, for the governments involved. Our staff has extensive experience in a number of facilitation models including Open Space Technology, Public Conversations, Visioning, and Appreciative Inquiry.
While goals and objectives vary based on you and your partners, they generally include supporting deepened understanding, creative thinking, and action.
We advocate combining facilitated dialogue with Training & Education, as we see an important link between skill-building and addressing real-life challenges.
Open Space is a unique process for conducting meetings, conferences and other important events convened to elicit ideas and to maximize engagement and buy-in from participants. Open Space is well suited for addressing complex, urgent, and timely topics for large groups of diverse stakeholders.
Unlike most conferences that are designed to share reports, trends, forecasts, recommendations and other information with attendees, Open Space is best suited for situations in which conference organizers are interested in obtaining information and ideas from the participants. In traditional conferences the information flows from sponsors to participants. In Open Space the information flow is reversed, enabling sponsors access to the aggregated and engaged thinking of the group.
Open Space combines the benefits of intimate small-group meetings with the scalability of traditional conferences. Traditional conferences are effective for downloading information for larger audiences, but they are not designed to engage, capture input from, and galvanize participants. Small-group meetings are effective for surfacing ideas and building upon them, but have limits when larger numbers of participants are involved. Open Space events bring the best of these and other approaches. The approach is designed to generate and capitalize on inputs from audiences of up to 1,000 participants.
Open Space is a cutting-edge solution for leaders who want to reap maximal value from large-group innovation and problem solving.
Unlike dialogues that adopt a problem-solving focus, Appreciative Inquiry uses a What are the possibilities? approach, shifting the focus from What is the problem? to What are the current strengths? and What would constitute improvement – how can we effect those changes? The underlying theme is that a person’s or group’s focus determines their actions, so the purpose of constructive inquiry is to stimulate innovation.
Appreciative Inquiry is highly interactive. We design customized programs to help participants engage each other in a structured way. Our programs are geared toward surfacing experiences that, in the aggregate, help define and shape a vision for improvement. The positive imagery of a better future, in turn, presents a powerful mobilizing agent.
We offer a number of options for implementing Appreciative Inquiry, including Summits and mass-interview sessions. It can be delivered as a stand-alone solution or as a complement to other dialogue approaches used to bring diverse groups of people together to build upon the best in their organization or community.
Reflective Structured Dialogue
When a breakdown in trust, relationships, and constructive dialogue is part of the problem, you might find that Reflective Structured Dialogue can be part of the solution.
We build upon the pioneering work of the Public Conversations Project, and use RSD to help individuals, groups, and organizations engage conversation with those they might otherwise consider “the enemy.”
Our facilitation combines tools used in mediation, Appreciative Inquiry, family therapy, interpersonal neurobiology, and organizational development. We help you transition difficult conversations into groundbreaking conversations that build trust and serve as springboards for collaboration and restored relationships.
World Café is a simple, yet effective, format for sharing and discussing ideas among large groups of participants.
Your participants enjoy a number of small group conversations, conducted in series of rounds. In each successive round, they move between groups, cross-pollinating ideas and building relationships across the larger audience.
Our design includes crafting questions that support your specific purposes for the session and the context surrounding your event. We introduce these questions at the outset of each round in order to focus participants’ conversations and to guide the broader session.
Future Search is an intense, multi-day, planning meeting. It is task-focused in nature, and brings a diverse group of participants into a common conversation.
We start by helping you crystalize your objective. Then, in a large group setting typically held over three days, we help your participants analyze the past, consider current factors and trends, and identify a shared concept of an ideal future. The session culminates with action planning, including creating implementation strategies for actualizing the shared vision.
Our group facilitation and dialogue is ideal for:
Generating creativity and interconnections within and between organizations and groups
Creating vision and action plans for organizations and groups
Addressing persistent organizational or group conflict
Engaging in dialogue regarding deep, intractable, or violent conflicts