23. August 2006

Tags: Administration

Mesa is the 3rd largest city in Arizona. In 2006, The Mesa Fire Department was reeling from the impact of multiple blows to its reputation and sense of pride. The cumulative effect of five consecutive years of budget cuts, and the potential downsizing imposed by those cuts, jeopardized the Department’s ability to be a full-service professional operation. The employees have also suffered embarrassment and negative publicity stemming from a number of internal disciplinary actions and the highly publisized arrest of a senior employee. Working with The Vaughan Consulting Group, The Department utilized Open Space as a constructive process to address the emotional impact of the organization’s damaged self-esteem, to make necessary changes to build capacity and resilience to better manage such crises in the future. The Open Space theme was "Defining Our Future", and all discussion topics were included in the Department`s strategic planning process. An astounding 225 employees, over half the entire department, participated in this voluntary event, generating 35 discussion groups on topics related to defining the future of the Department. The number of participants was notable because two-thirds of the firefighters were "off shift". This was accomplished through a compelling communication effort and a partnership between labor and management. The event was photographed and video-taped. An internal promotional video and a video of the event are available.

N° of Participants
1 day


Sponsoring Organisation

  1. Mesa Fire Department


  1. Vaughan, Greg