Adrian Segar* over at “conferences that work” has just put up a really good post about the limits of “Open Space Technology.” Among other things, he writes –
Open Space session topics are determined by individuals who stand up in front of the entire group and announce their chosen topic. Generally, this is much easier for extroverts, who have few difficulties speaking to a group extemporaneously, than introverts who tend to shun such opportunities. The end result is that introverts are largely silent during the opening process, and the subsequent Open Space sessions are biased towards those proposed and often dominated by a comfortably-vocal minority.
Given that introverts are reckoned to make up ~25-50% of the population (higher in some industries, such as information technology) this is not good.
A facilitator told me recently about her experience at an Open Space conference she was running. The acknowledged expert on the conference topic was present, but he was so uncomfortable with the process that he hardly spoke during the entire event.
As a well-known introvert (cough cough), I whole-heartdly agree.
*conflict of interest statement – he and I had a v. useful skype chat a while back.