Openness forms both the product and process for Genetic Alliance. In this spirit, we use open space technology to facilitate communication and brainstorming, both among staff and in larger group settings. The freedom of thought inherent in open space leads to new collaborations inside the office and out.
Recently, open space workshops were a highlight and a driver of our 2010 Annual Conference, Advancing Novel Partnerships. The Genetic Alliance Annual Conference is a fertile field for innovation that steps outside the box and creates new ways of being, thinking, and acting that transform systems. A few examples highlight the atmosphere within which this creativity has been loosed: GRANDRx (an informal coalition created to accelerate drug discovery for rare and neglected diseases), the Coalition for Genetic Fairness (a formal coalition that educated congress and supported the passage of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act), and the Genetic Alliance BioBank (a one-of-a-kind cooperative of disease groups owning and managing a shared infrastructure for registries and biobanks). Often people say the best problem-solving during a conference happens in the breaks. Open space brings the breaks into workshops.
From http://www.openspaceworld.org: Open Space works best when the work to be done is complex, the people and ideas involved are diverse, the passion for resolution (and potential for conflict) are high, and the time to get it done was yesterday. It’s been called passion bounded by responsibility, the energy of a good coffee break, intentional self-organization, spirit at work, chaos and creativity, evolution in organization, and a simple, powerful way to get people and organizations moving—when and where it’s needed most. And, while Open Space is known for its apparent lack of structure and welcoming of surprises, it turns out that the Open Space meeting or organization is actually very structured—but that structure is so perfectly fit to the people and the work at hand, that it goes unnoticed in its proper role of supporting (not blocking) best work. In fact, the stories and workplans woven in Open Space are generally more complex, more robust, more durable—and can move a great deal faster than expert- or management-driven designs.
What’s at stake in open space? We each know at some level what is at stake for ourselves, our children and grandchildren, our communities, and the world. This knowing is not always conscious, but it is present within us. Open space is an opportunity to discover it, declare it, and do something about it with others of like mind and heart.
Open space requires an investment of yourself, your ideas, your hopes and dreams, your passions, and your responsibility for acting on them. Discuss, debate, conceive novel partnerships, and emerge transformed and transforming—creating new systems that solve old problems, entraining new relationships that empower action, and inspiring yourself and others to rise above the limitations that used to constrain you. Catch the flying sparks and set them ablaze!
Genetic Alliance improves health through the authentic engagement of communities and individuals. In this, our 25th year, we celebrate innovation on our journey toward novel partnerships, connected consumers and smart services.