One of the primary problems in using facilitation as a tool to understand the issues affecting an organization is that the organiser generally presets the agenda. At the planning stage, management and the facilitator usually determine the issues that they think affect the organization, and then develop a programme for participants to discuss those issues. Often times, the issues discussed are those that management feels is important, and not what people in the organization feel is important.
This is where the use of Open Space Technology (OST) becomes the facilitation tool of choice. What happens during an OST session is that a convening question is posed and participants are then free to discuss any issue they feel is important that is related to the question.
Used correctly, OST is designed to allow the real issues and concerns to get raised. Once raised, participants then organically discuss and derive solutions to the problem (if that is the desired end-state) or the issues and concerns can be harvested for management's attention. The OST mode of facilitation was used effectively by the Singapore government when they held their series of Our Singapore Conversations (OSC). During the OSC series, Singaporeans' real concerns about the direction of the country surfaced and the government took the necessary actions to address it.
Organizations that are keen to discover the real issues and concerns affecting their employees can consider using the OST methodology. Additionally, when self-alignment (especially during mergers and acquisitions) is needed, OST also works well in this scenario.
To find out how OST can be used to benefit your organization, email anna[a]cwfongandassociates.com