Open Space Team Building

27 02 2010

            Our class utilised the open space exercise to form a diverse range of interest groups and teams for our wikis.  I want to comment on the success of this exercise because I was very intrigued and surprised how constructive and organised we became as a class once the standard structure and rules of the classroom were dropped.  One drawback that I have felt in the BSc program is its rigid structure.  I do understand the learning benefits one will obtain from working with tight deadlines in multiple classes, with multiple teams, and with multiple schedules.  However, I do enjoy the opportunity to direct my energy towards initiatives that I am interested in, whether it be getting involved in the community, or taking the time to do some research about a topic that catches my eye.  I feel a bit constrained thus far, because we just don’t have any extra time to invest into personal interests, and if I did find the time, it would mean taking that time away from other necessities such as family, friends, and recreation. 

            So, back to open space . . . I was encouraged to see so many people in our class come forward with some awesome ideas.  There are many great ideas out there, but unless people are prompted to own their ideas or given a place to explore them, sometimes they don’t speak up.  I think the success also stemmed from the freedom everyone felt to move from one group to another until they found their fit.  Commitment is scary (we all know this from relationships!), so the freedom to move about and join in a range of discussions allowed for people to come forward and throw in their two cents without feeling that their idea would have to become a life commitment.  The open space concept felt like a puzzle coming together, by the end of the day everybody found their fit, but in the beginning we had no idea how the puzzle would evolve, or what the final picture would be.  When people are encouraged to pour their energy into something that they are passionate about, it is amazing how much work can get done in such a short time!  The open space concept allowed for self-organisation, a bit of chaos, creativity, and the development of passionate ideas.  I think that the greatest challenge that we encountered as a group was losing touch of our responsibility and reasoning for coming together: helping Colwood become a carbon neutral city

            Approximately ten of us, all interested in local food promotion and community, came together in a hallway gathering.  Our discussion revolved around local food festivals, seed exchanges, recipe exchanges, and local producers.  By the end of the morning session, and after much brainstorming and exciting ideas, this larger group evolved into two smaller groups: one group who were interested in promoting seasonal food-based festivals, and the group that I became involved in, which will be looking to start a seed and food exchange within the City of Colwood.  Our goal: help make the City of Colwood a carbon neutral community.  Our idea: creating a more efficient and social based circulation of local food, seeds, and recipes within the community.  This initiative will establish its understanding of place and scale by utilising maps of the community.  Community green maps can be used to show established transportation lines (including bike and walking paths), and the location and products of local food producers (farmers, fruit trees, backyard gardens).  Our next step is to plan strategies for connecting the people who grow and produce local food and products with each other, and with other people in the community.  There is a lot of waste involved in the spoiling of surplus food caches, and we hope the encouragement of trade can help diminish this waste, whilst also encouraging community engagement.  Seeds, including heirloom and native varieties, can be circulated amongst community members and other communities to ensure that quality plant varieties are maintained for future generations.  I’m excited about our challenge, and I am certain that this project will evolve yet as we go about the process of producing a wiki.

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One response

12 04 2010
Richard Kool

Charlene, your writing here would be a good advertisement for the utility of open space technology… thanks for this as I had never used OST before and was curious how you all would take to it! And I do appreciate your comments about the structure of the BSc program, understanding why it is that way, we might be able to do some thinking about how to give a bit more ‘open space’ for things in the future.

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