July 8. There was a lot of interest in this post when I originally wrote it on June 26, but perhaps that was too soon after General Assembly for some to consider how the Open Space Technology model could yet still benefit Unitarian Universalist. Plus, I promised a follow up and never wrote it. Review this if you hadn’t already and make comments and I promise to gather up some helpful resources.
Victoria Weinstein (PeaceBang) and I had a long chat last night about General Assembly and the UUA. The subject of Open Space Technology came up. I follow the process as best I could, matching what was reported with resources that describe what Open Space Technology could be (and some models that are fantastic). After reading Sean the CLF Delegate’s description, I am baffled about the intent and outcome of the exercise. It seems like a morass of process for process sake. Feh. (If you were there, please comment below.)
Not that I had high hopes; there were problems and cautions from the beginning.
- Even the relatively low Open Space turnout was gigantic compared to anything I’ve seen trying to use similar techniques.
- The information sent out ahead of time — and it seems some never got it — didn’t have enough detail to prepare participants.
- Thus there was no way for people to shout out what they hoped to accomplish.
- This sounds like The Next Big Idea That Goes Nowhere; it’s easy to become cynical as a Unitarian Universalist.
- Big name speakers are a tempting draw away from the process.
- The interleafing of “regular programming” with Open Space sessions probably upset both.
- I didn’t see much permission-giving — apart from the Law of Personal Mobility — for participants to own the process.
- The goal of the process wasn’t (and isn’t) clear.
- Old process habits (leading to grand, vague slogans) die hard.
- But the goal was directed to the UUA Board, and not the participants’ own needs, which probably discouraged some people from attending.
I know that a similar process — gathered in what are often called Unconferences — have amazing powers to help people self-organize as mutual teachers and learners.
I think that an Unconference model can help groups smaller than General Assembly but I’m worried that this experience has poisoned it for those who might otherwise be interested.
OK, I’m not done, but I’m zonked. Early to bed, and I’ll pick this up tomorrow.