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[ba-unrev-talk] Open Space World

by Harrison Owen, in the Introduction to the first Open Space Technology: A 
User's Guide, Copyright  1992 by Harrison Owen    (01)

"In 1983, I had occasion to organize an international conference for 250 
participants. It took me a full year of labor. By the time I had finished 
with all the details, frustrations and egos (mine and others'), that go 
with such an event, I resolved never to do such a thing again. This 
resolution was confirmed at the conclusion of the conference, when it was 
agreed by one and all (including myself) that although the total event had 
been outstanding, the truly useful part had been the coffee breaks. So much 
for one year's effort arranging papers, participants, and presenters. The 
only thing that everybody liked was the one thing I had nothing to do with: 
the coffee breaks. There had to be a message here.
My question was a simple one. Was it possible to combine the level of 
synergy and excitement present in a good coffee break, with the substantive 
activity and results characteristic of a good meeting? And most of all, 
could the whole thing be done in less than a year? The line of inquiry I 
choose to follow took some interesting turns, but essentially it started 
with the notion that if I could identify certain basic mechanisms of 
meeting, or human gathering, it might be possible to build them into an 
approach that would be so simple that it could not fail and so elemental 
that it might possess the natural power of a good coffee break."    (02)