Rating

6

Qualities

  • Comprehensive
  • Innovative
  • Well Structured

Recommendation

Owen Harrison is no longer just the man who wrote the book on Open Space Technology — He’s now the man who wrote the books. Expanding Our Now is Harrison’s second crack at explaining the organizational theory he developed after watching a celebration in an African village. Basically the theory boils down to this: A group will organize itself to solve a specific problem if you sit everyone in a circle and get out of the way. The nuts-and-bolts of this process were described in Harrison’s earlier, Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide. This time around, the author gives us a bit more history and theory. Your reaction to this book will depend to a large extent on how ready you are to accept OST as a concept and how open to new management techniques you are in general. But even if you’re not in the market for newly minted organizational theories, getAbstract recommends that you read this book, if only to absorb some of its innovative suggestions about how to get the most out of that bane of corporate life — the meeting.

Summary

OST: Out of Africa

"Open Space Technology" (OST) is a way to hold a better meeting with a group of any size. Harrison Owen, originator of the OST structure, set out the principle that meeting participants will organize themselves to deal with a very complex issue in a very short time. As a result, you don’t need to do much to facilitate the meeting and preplanning is largely unnecessary. While this technology may start with better meetings, it also leads to richer ways for people to join together in organizations.

This approach works effectively and efficiently because it gets everyone involved in an issue - the whole system - in a single room at the same time. Together, they can accomplish in a short time what otherwise might take much longer, even years to accomplish.

Open space technology has actually existed for a long time, as an essential part of human history. Owen believes he simply stumbled upon it as a result of working in Africa. He started out 40 years ago to become an Anglican or Episcopalian priest and an academic. But in the ’60s, after two black churches were burned in Birmingham, Alabama, he got involved in organizing and demonstrating. Two years...

About the Author

Harrison Owen  the president of H.H. Owen and Company, originated Open Space Technology. He is the author of Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide. He has worked with a variety of organizations in putting on these events, including the U.S. National Institute of Health and the Veterans Administration. His other books include Spirit: Transformation and Development in Organization, Leadership Is, Riding the Tiger, The Millennium Organization and Tales from Outer Space.


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