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Community Contribution

Using Open-Space for Strategy Development in Indonesia

Feb 29, 2016
Ian Lathrop

In 2012, USAID/Indonesia began developing its current Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) in an environment of uncertainty and opportunity. The Government of Indonesia was entering a transition period, and the USAID Mission had three mission directors in three years and was awaiting a fourth with  a slew of new staff coming onboard. With this backdrop, the CDCS team, led by Nancy Fisher-Gormley from the Program Office, set out to create a comprehensive strategy to address a very diverse set of needs and viewpoints. But to do that, they would need to convene a wide variety of stakeholders throughout the country in way that had been unprecedented for the mission.

Given these circumstances, the team decided to make the strategy development process a participatory learning experience. Through a simple Google search for ideas for convening large groups, Nancy discovered open-space technology. Open-space is a simple way to host a meeting or event, where “participants create and manage their own agenda or parallel working sessions around a central theme.” This methodology can be used with groups of 5 to 2000+ people who work in one-day workshops, three-day conferences, or regular weekly staff meetings. Open-space meetings are most effective for complex gatherings with a very diverse set of ideas. They work to connect and strengthen the planning, learning, participation, and performance already happening within an organization.

USAID/Indonesia hired a local open-space facilitator for six months to convene meetings in Jakarta and 9 other locations throughout the country. Watch this video to learn more about how they did it and what they achieved.