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Open Space Technology for Gathering

John R. Hall
John R. Hall Member Posts: 2,246
For those of you who will be attending the Gathering, I'd like to offer a suggestion.

I just got back from a contractor meeting where ideas were discussed using a technique called "Open Space Technology." The entire group of 150 people gathered in a large circle (and spilled over) inside the room. The coordinator asked anyone to come to the middle of the room, pick up a marker, large piece of paper, and notepad.

On the paper, the person wrote a topic that he or she wanted to discuss in a smaller breakout session. The person then went to a wall of the room, took a post-it note (three different colors signifying three different time slots) and taped the paper, with the post-it, to the wall. The audience was asked to then choose which discussion they wished to attend and initialed the paper.

The breakout sessions were then arranged along with the proper amount of chairs for participants. The person who proposed the idea was the moderator and took notes from the discussion. The notes were then keyed into a computer and the results were tabulated, sent to Kinko's, and small booklets were produced with results of all of the discussions by the next morning (Kinkos is 24-hour printer).

The result was, in my mind, priceless. There were 14 proposed sessions. Two were cancelled because only one or two people signed up or showed up. We wound up with 12 good topics of concern to the contractors which were documented and available to all attendees.

Obviously this is an added cost that I doubt Dan would or even should add to the Gathering. However, if people volunteered to moderate discussions at the Gathering and give me their notes, I'd be happy to make a report for all attendees, who would have the first right of viewing. Like the meeting I attended last week, I would also be writing a summary for The News.

This is a valuable business tool that is also a lasting one. A lot of good ideas from good businesspeople is something you cannot put a price on. I'd like your feedback.


  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,551

    Our plan is to have volunteer scribes at the Gathering. What's in it for them? A nice discount at the bookstore that we'll have set up. Anyone who brings notes up to the HeatingHelp.com table gets a discount coupon that they can use immediately.

    To avoid duplication of the ideas and comments collected, I'll be bringing all the notes home where I can edit them into a Give & Get type of ebooklet. As soon as I'm done, everyone who attended will get a copy by email. When we do the next Gathering (in the spring), everyone who registers will get the booklet from Marlborough. The third Gathering group (next summer) will get the notes from the first and second Gatherings, and so on.

    Thanks for the input, John. I think that the five Dealer's Choice tables will serve a purpose that's similar to what you had at your meeting, but on a smaller scale.

    See you then!
    Retired and loving it.
  • Mark Eatherton1
    Mark Eatherton1 Member Posts: 2,542
    Hey Dan...

    I hope you chose scribes whose hand writing can be read by others. I need an interpreter for my OWN hand writing. How about maybe using court reporters in training. I know that during one of the trials I worked at that the court scribes could have used some previous experience in the heating world terminology...I'm not sure if they ever did release their notes.

    Just a thought.


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  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,551

    I'll be doing them, Mark. That's why I don't want to hand them out that day. Anyone who takes notes will give them to me and I'll be right there to check them and ask for any clarifications on words I can't make out. I'm trying to keep the process as simple as possible. See you soon, pal.
    Retired and loving it.
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