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Workshop reveals how ‘open space’ can involve people and help manage change


The latest in a series of workshops highlighting new ways of engaging people in change management will be presented at Roffey Park on 25-27 October.

Creating Space for Effective Change looks at the process of Open Space Technology (OST), highlights its personal and organisational benefits and shows when, where and how to apply the technique to facilitate change and improve productivity.

Led by organisational consultant Romy Shovelton and Harrison Owen - founder of OST and a management development specialist and author - the workshop is aimed at senior and middle managers, functional specialists and consultants.

“Organisational change programmes are usually planned by a small number of people,” said Paul Roberts, Programme Director at Roffey Park. “All evidence and experience shows that the more you involve people in change, the less they will resist it. The value of Open Space Technology and the other approaches we have been highlighting is their capacity to involve large numbers of people. These techniques have different applications and contexts and they also provide forums through which the knowledge contained within an organisation can be accessed and made available for decision making.”

Open Space Technology has been adopted by companies such as Pepsi-Cola, Guinness, ICI, NatWest Bank, Prudential and Shell.

“Open Space is a framework that enables groups of five to a thousand people to come together to create participation and commitment to action,” said Harrison Owen, who pioneered the technique in the United States in 1985. “It’s a practical way of working that involves everyone whose input is required to address the issue or achieve the desired result. It helps you plan and facilitate organisational change but it can also be used to boost the effectiveness of strategic planning, market research, new product development and newly-merged organisations.”

Harrison Owen says the technique can improve the productivity of any meeting or conference. “Open Space promotes innovation and releases natural entrepreneurial energies as people begin to work in self-managed teams with leadership, appreciation and diversity,” he said. “Initially almost everyone is sure that you can’t bring a thousand people together and expect anything other than mayhem. Yet people all over the world have described the experience as one of personal transformation.”

The Open Space event is part of a series of change management workshops run by Roffey Park, in partnership with Wikima Consulting, Vista Consulting and Hawthorn Press. The first covered Large Group Engagement. Future events include: Changing the Way We Change Organisations (18 August), Future Search (4-6 September) and Power and Leadership (10-15 September).

The workshop fee for ‘Creating Space for Effective Change’ is £1,295 plus VAT. Non-residential rates are also available. Call the bookings office at Roffey Park on 01293 851644 or e-mail

Michael Dawson


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