Talk:Open Space Technology

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Removed broken and potentially commercial links from External links list[edit]

Jazilla (talk) 01:25, 15 December 2013 (UTC)

Open Space things[edit]

This is a super detailed comment, but I would suggest reworking the tone of the outcomes section to move away from the "guaranteed" language. I find that practitioners of Open Space often hold the belief that it is impossible for voices or perspectives to be marginalized within this process. On the contrary I have observed on several occasions the "popularity contest" aspects of Open Space which can sometime lead to important minority issues being marginalized because nobody else goes to those discussions. For this reason I suggest revisiting the "guaranteed" language in this section. COCoFacilitation (talk) 18:24, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

What is the difference between Open Space Technology, Open Space meeting, and Open Space conference?

When I use "Open Space Technology", I am talking about a 3 day open space process with all the open space mechanism and control's are present in the introduction, where the group gathers repeatedly as a big group and divides in varied unlimited numbers of smaller groups using the bulletin board and market place as proscribed. Where the minority voice of the visionary is present along with the other voice four quadrants of the medicine wheel discussed in the open space literature. The other names I use for other variances, such as when there is a fixed number of brake-out spaces or other restrictions on the space or where some of the elements are missing or have been limited in there power. Teloft (talk) 16:08, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
... one more thing, I just saw some text to qualift this question on what is the difference on open space and the other non-hirarcial thecnologies. "If it ain’t voluntary, self selection, it ain’t Open Space." from HO see: [Open Space things 1] I hope this link dose work... (talk) 23:15, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I was wondering the same thing. Open Space Technology is the formal name for the process that Harrison Owen wrote about in the User's Guide. I'm not sure what the others are. Tedernst 20:51, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Open Space Technology is the name of the method that was created by Harrison Owen in 1985. If that method is being used in a meeting, gathering, conference, congress, planning session, etc. those events can be called Open Space meeting, an Open Space conference, an Open Space event, etc. Amongst many practitioners that use Open Space Technology (estimated 20 000 worldwide)the emphasis during the discussion with open space sponsors (those that are responsible for the event)is on the overall Theme of the event with a tendency to not put Open Space above or ahead of the Theme because it is merely the process. The passion, energy, responsibility for things to emerge from the event comes from the identification with the Theme, not the process.(michael m pannwitz)

They're all synonymous. Open Space Technology is the formal name. Voyager640 16:40, 14 December 2005 (UTC)
I just added some information that I hope addresses the importance question. It is the first time I've worked on the wikipedia and I saved it and then set up an account. So, in case it wasn't recorded, the April 28, 2006 changes were mine.

I'm at an open space facilitated all-day session at the Media Lab, co-sponsored by Berkman and the lab, dealing with identity issues (anonymity, identity, privacy,...). Open space is a way for a group of experts, convening in a time that isn't structured ahead of time, to create an agenda that addresses emerging topics from the structured days of the conference, like a day of Birds-of-a-Feather sessions. It's just a cultural structure around BOFs, although the language is a little excessively earthy-crunchy granola. Don't let that fool you...:)

Open Space things references[edit]

Removed a line.[edit]

"The organizing theme of an Open Space meeting acts as a "strange attractor" around which people who care about the subject come together."
Strange Attractor. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. 04:24, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Proper name[edit]

I've never heard of this before but it doesn't seem like a proper name. If so, it should be moved to Open space technology. Nurg 08:37, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

"Open Space Technology" is indeed a proper name. See, for example, the references in the Background section. I think this article's current capitalisation is correct. --Jdlh | Talk 23:15, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

This article is not in the correct location now. It seems to have been moved from Open Space Technology with surgery done to the content to make "Open Space" into "open-space". As stated, "Open Space Technology" is a proper name, and "Open Space" is a short form of it. It needs to be moved back. I've fixed the content, but not the article. hajush —Preceding undated comment added 01:08, 24 February 2012 (UTC).

Link Suggestion[edit]

I recently interviewed Harrison Owen the author of the book in the links. Before editing and being accused of improper linking as I tend to be the victim of fast deletion I'd like to discuss with you the chance to insert a link to the interview. Which can be found here —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tojulius (talkcontribs) 17:01, 12 December 2007 (UTC) UPDATE: I see the link has been removed and another interview (which wasn't suggested at all) has been preferred. Could anyone please explain the reasoning behind this? I do not care about the link in itself as my website is not for profit but really would like to understand your policy —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tojulius (talkcontribs) 17:30, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

Isn't the Open Scpae World Map <> the perfect overview of practitioners worlwide?

And the Open Space Worldscape <> provides an overview of events that took place in open space format. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:58, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

Citations and Cleanup[edit]

This article certainly needs a major cleanup. Most of the article sounds like a proponent of the method trying to explain how it works (especially the second section).

If claims are made ("This method is a good way to do XXX"), please cite third-party sources to support that. If it's just a claim by the method's proponents, please state it that way and also cite the source.

In addition, I think that the article could benefit from a more "third-party" perspective. (Instead of saying "the basic principle is XXX", explain what it is about: "The method attempts to do YYY by employing the principle of XXX". Averell (talk) 12:03, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

Agree with the suggestions for improvements. Also, I accidentally rolled-back Averell's changes, but didn't mean to. I think I fixed the damage. --Jdlh | Talk 20:07, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

There has been some rewrite of the article, which improved it quite a bit. However it's still not completely encyclopaedic, so I took the liberty to rewrite it some. I understand that some people are really excited about that cool new method (maybe rightly so) - still this is an encyclopaedia and not a how-to.

What I didn't do was fact-checking of the statements and the existing references... Averell (talk) 19:49, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

Thanks to whoever has down the "cleanup." I confess that I am new to the world of Wikipedia (which is probably obvious), although when the whole adventure (Wikipedia) first began I was asked to write the article on Oem Space, but somebody beat me to it. Under the heading of full disclosure, I am Harrison Owen, the perpetrator. When it comes to "third party" comments, this represents something of a difficulty. For reasons I have never quite understood the academic community has almost totally ignored OST. It has been written up extensively in the New York Time, Washington Post, and a number of other international sources, but in most cases, they were quoting me. Descriptions will be found in other people's books, but again either I wrote the contributed chapter, or they are quoting me. Then we come to the material generated by people who use Open Space (practitioners), and there is an enormous amount, but I would guess such people would be judged "proponents." All help and suggestions Please!--Harrison Owen (talk) 11:54, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

Hello Harrison, I'm the person who did the "cleanup". Let me first say that I don't actually know much about OST and never actually used it - I just stumbled on the article a while ago and it was kind of in a sorry state. So your first writeup was actually a major improvement, as it actually explained how OST works. I tried not to change the facts, but simply represent them in a more encyclopedic way.
Second, thanks for disclosing your "affiliation" - but you seem to be working in good faith, so it should not pose a problem :-)
I also have to admit that I'm, at times a bit religious about the citations. In this case we can probably take it more lightly, because the topic is not really controversial.
You'll notice that I tried to qualify the statements; for example "OST is great" (an opinion) would become "practitioners believe OST is great" or "Harrison Owen says OST is great" (a fact). As long as you qualify statements in this way, you may also cite books and other sources from "proponents". Also the facts like "proponents say ..." should be backed up by sources, so that the reader can check if the proponents really said this.
If you haven't done so already I suggest that you read the Wikipedia:NPOV to see how to make a good, neutral article. You may also want to check Wikipedia:COI, because it has some information about when it is appropriate to cite your own work.
Hope that helped, if there are more questions just leave them here or on my talk page. Averell (talk) 08:38, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

Looking at this useful but problematic article, it struck me as quite chaotically organised. Perhaps a search of some other meeting technologies' wikipedia pages might provide inspiration? For interest, I googled "Scrum" and found which seems to have a cleaner layout. From that page alone, I suggest that this article be reordered to start with History, and should roughly parallel the Roles and Outcomes sections too, which should serve to make it clear how open space should work while confining the article itself to mostly left-brain language. Sweavo (talk) 11:57, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Using the Scrum reference as a useful model sounds like a great idea, and would be a fair amount of work but would improve it. But at this point - can we remove the "not enough citations" warning as it seems to have enough citations and if not - what's missing? Hajush (talk) 13:26, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

This article appears to discuss the advantages of Open Space Technology in a rather detailed manner. However, it is clearly missing information on the disadvantageous aspects of it, and therefore does not present a balanced view as one would expect in an encyclopedia. Topics to cover could be whether Open Space Technology is more suited for certain personality types than others (the format seems to favor extraverts) and how the attitude of the sponsor and facilitator can either make or obliterate the succesful completion of the process. (talk) 08:55, 13 February 2014 (UTC) Anonymous

Merge this and Unconference[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
  • The result of this discussion was no consensus to merge. Northamerica1000(talk) 12:43, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

This article reads like an ad. Maybe merging this and Unconference would lead to a more rounded group of contributors and a better focus? Gronky (talk) 10:55, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

I don't think this should be merged. I came to wikipedia specifically looking for information on Open Space Technology and found this article. However I agree that there should be some kind of overall article which summarizes and links to non-hierarchical group meeting, decision making and educational practices. That would be great. Things like bar camps fit in this, though they are not strictly Open Space meetings. I think that the OST folks call this "self-organizing" structures. -- (talk) 19:14, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Please hold off on the speedy deletion[edit]

A number of Open Space facilitators have recently begun to work on this page and bring it up to a better standard. The idea is to write about the process, the way it works and what generally happens. The way the article reads now is enthusiastic, but I take issue with the fact that it is advertising. OST is an open source meeting process. I think the community just wants to ensure there is an accurate description of it here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Salishsea (talkcontribs) 19:57, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

I've just updated the banners to more accurately reflect recent improvements. I think the introduction and history are both really good now, but just need their references turned into proper Wikipedia footnotes. The rest (older text) is useful information, but still needs to be rewritten a bit to feel less how-to-ish. JustinTSampson (talk) 07:59, 1 December 2009 (UTC) is looking really good now. Chris Corrigan (talk) 09:15, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

Please include pictures[edit]

Specifically, I want to see a picture of 2100 chairs arranged in a circle. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:29, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

There have been a variance on the circle for large spaces with many people. First off, the fire exit has to have priority. This will divide the big room in, at least, four sections where the fire escape channeled are marked as such. Secondly, large movement of chairs can be hazardous, its possible to have the chairs in smaller the circles of 8-12 itch can then be used as brake out spaces removing or adding few chairs as groups have different sizes. Sometimes the fire brigade demands that the chairs should be locked to one another and sometimes we have option to skip on the chairs having only chairs for the 5-25+% that are old, challenged or tiered. Teloft (talk) 16:08, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
I don't know of any such picture (kinda hard to capture that) but I have made crappy ones of Recent Changes Camp here: This one is from rococo and could probably be uploaded: -- TheAnarcat (talk) 18:18, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

I found a wonderful Picture and this picture has this wonderful license I don't know how to include it, can you do it for me? (talk) 21:11, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

Merge with Open Space Meeting[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
Merge completed. WTF? (talk) 18:35, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

I think this should be merged with Open Space Meeting. As was said in the other discussion page.

I believe this article is redundant and confusing and should be either deleted or merged with Open Space Technology. What would be reason to keep this one? Open Space meetings don't exist. There is Open Space Technology, and there are meetings that are done in an Open Space like style. But this is too fuzzy for a single article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hnauheimer (talk • contribs) 06:50, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
-- TheAnarcat (talk) 18:19, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Move to Wikiversity?[edit]

I think the encyclopedic content - definition, origin, statistics for example could be kept in Wikipedia and the "How To" information moved to Wikiversity. --Ngstanton (talk) 15:54, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

This sounds like a good idea, how can this be done? Teloft (talk) 16:08, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

Doing an open space[edit]

(This could make a nice addition to wikipedia listing !!)


WHAT IS OPEN SPACE? It is a self-organizing practice of inner discipline and collective activity which releases the inherent creativity and leadership in people. By inviting people to take responsibility for what they care about, Open Space establishes a marketplace of inquiry, reflection and learning, bringing out the best in both individuals and the whole.


  • Where conflict is holding back the ability to change
  • Where the situation is complex
  • Where there is a high degree of diversity
  • Where there is an urgent need to make speedy decisions
  • Where all stakeholders are needed for good decisions to be made
  • Where you have no preconceived notion of what the outcomes should be


  • Builds energy, commitment and shared leadership
  • Participants accept responsibility for what does or doesn't happen
  • Action plans and recommendations emerge from discussions as appropriate
  • You create a record of the entire proceedings as you go along

HOW IT WORKS: The Law of Two Feet means you take responsibility for what you care about -- standing up for that and using your own two feet to move to whatever place you can best contribute and/or learn.

Four principles apply to how you navigate in open space:

  • Whoever comes is the right people

Whoever is attracted to the same conversation are the people who can contribute most to that conversation—because they care. So they are exactly the ones—for the whole group-- who are capable of initiating action.

  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could've

We are all limited by our own pasts and expectations. This principle acknowledges we'll all do our best to focus on NOW-- the present time and place-- and not get bogged down in what could've or should've happened.

  • When it starts is the right time

The creative spirit has its own time, and our task is to make our best contribution and enter the flow of creativity when it starts.

  • When it's over, it's over

Creativity has its own rhythm. So do groups. Just a reminder to pay attention to the flow of creativity -- not the clock. When you think it is over, ask: Is it over? And if it is, go on to the next thing you have passion for. If it’s not, make plans for continuing the conversation.

  • Wherever it happens is the right place

Reminds participants that space is opening everywhere all the time. Please be concious and aware. - Tahrir Square is one famous example. (Wherever is the new one, just added)

HOW OPEN SPACE WORKS WHEN THERE IS CONFLICT: The Law of Two Feet gives participants freedom to move at any time to a discussion they care about. Caring creates common ground, and helps to remind participants of higher purpose.

GROUP SIZE: To date, we know that Open Space accommodates groups from 5 to 1500 people. It can be run for a couple of hours to 3 or more days; consecutively or over time; at one site or at multiple sites connected by computer and/or phone and video. The longer the space is open, the more transformative the outcomes.


  1. Select a focusing statement or question for your gathering. It should frame the higher purpose and widest context for your discussion in a positive way.
  2. Invite the circle of people: all stakeholders or all the people you'd like to have in the room. Include the theme, date, place and time of gathering in the invitation.
  3. Create the circle: Set up chairs in a circle or in concentric circles, leaving space in the center. Choose a blank wall for the Agenda Wall and label it AGENDA: AM, PM across the top. Set up a table for computers near a wall you label NEWS. Put blank sheets of news print (about quarter size of a flip chart page) and colored felt pens in the center of the circle. Near the Agenda Wall and the News Wall put masking tape for people to post papers on the walls.
  4. To begin the gathering: Facilitator explains: the theme, the simple process the group will follow to organize and create a record, where to put things up and find out what is happening, the Law of Two Feet, and the Principles of Open Space. Then, facilitator invites people to silently meditate on what has heart and meaning for each of them.
  5. Opening the marketplace: the Facilitator invites anyone who cares about an issue to step into the middle of the circle and write the topic, their name, a time and place for meeting, announce it and post the offering on the Agenda Wall -- one sheet per topic—as many topics as he/she wants. They will be convenors who have responsibility for facilitating their session(s) and seeing to it that a report is made and shared on the News Wall.
  6. When ALL offerings are concluded, the Facilitator invites people to sign up for what they are interested in and take responsibility for their schedules, using the Law of Two Feet.
  7. People participate in discussions. The Facilitator takes care of the space. Reporters enter discussion reports in the computers and printouts are posted on the News Wall.
  8. Closing Circle: all reconvene an hour before closing to share highlights, "ahas" and key learnings in a Dialogue format: simply listening to whatever people have to offer without discussion, or you can pass a "talking stick" for each person to hold as he/she is talking, or to pass along if the person doesn't want to contribute anything.
  9. Mail out whatever record is created and an address list to all who came.
  10. If it is a several day gathering, do steps 3 through 8 daily.

From: Anne Stadler, See also — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:45, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

Leith’s Guide to Open Space[edit]

(This could make a nice addition and to the wikipedia listing !!)

An Open Space event is a participant- led planning event in which 50, 100, 500 or more people discuss issues of heartfelt concern, share ideas, pool their knowledge, reach agreement on the best way forward, and develop plans for concerted action.

What is an Open Space event?

An Open Space event enables participants to create their own programme of self-managed sessions (such as discussion groups, experiential workshops, ideas sessions and planning meetings) related to a central theme, such as: What are the issues and opportunities

facing the XYZ Corporation? Open Space allows diverse and often very large groups of people to get together, discuss issues of heartfelt concern, pool their knowledge, reach agreement on the best way forward, and develop plans for collaborative action.

The participant group can be of any size, from twelve people to a thousand or more, and the meeting is usually held over one, two or three days. There are no invited speakers, and just one facilitator to explain the procedure and facilitate the plenary sessions.

Open Space events are typically held to create a new vision, figure out how to implement a strategy, plan a significant change, solve a complex or intractable problem, invent a new product, or prepare for community action. They are also increasingly used by organisations as an alternative or adjunct to their annual conference.

Since 1985, Open Space events have been used in different parts of the world by a wide range of companies and non-profit organisations including Cabinet Office, Diageo, Home Office, ICI, McCain Foods, National Health Service, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Robert Bosch and Shell.

The Open Space approach is particularly effective when complex or conflict-ridden issues must be resolved quickly, and when participation, collaboration, alignment and ownership are desired outcomes.

Harrison Owen, the originator of Open Space, says: “At the very least, Open Space (or, to give it its full title, Open Space Technology) is a fast, cheap, and simple way to better, more productive meetings. At a deeper level, it enables people to experience a very different quality of organisation in which self-managed work groups are the norm, leadership is a constantly shared phenomenon, diversity becomes a resource to be used instead of a problem to be overcome, and personal empowerment is a shared experience. It is also fun. In a word, conditions are set for fundamental organisational change.”

from: Leith’s Guide to Open Space (

Grammar in principles[edit]

The first principle says: "Whoever comes is the right people" -- shouldn't that be "Whomever comes are the right people"? Or something?? All the existing literature on the topic seems to put the principle in an agrammatical style. I added a "[sic]" into the page, but I don't know if it's really appropriate to do so. I'm not trying to defile the system, but the original version of the principle hurts my eyes. Arided (talk) 19:39, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

Regardless of whether it's "is" or "are", it's "Whoever" not "Whomever". You wouldn't say "him comes," you would say "he comes." Thus, "whoever". (talk) 11:50, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

When to use[edit]

From "Open Space works best when the work do 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."

  • Problem solving - bringing stakeholders together to understand a problem and seek a shared solution.
  • Strategic planning - Identifying goals and actions.
  • Sharing and synthesizing knowledge - reflecting on what has been learned and understanding how it applies to work going forward.
  • Community, team and network building - working together in small and large groups to help build relationships - secondary benefit.

When to use external links[edit]

The Living systems infrastructure[edit]

We are trying to create an infrastructure for human interaction to take place, mainly face to face but also could be virtual, to create organizations that are living systems, not mechanical systems.

Now how do we work in open space? What kind of principles or ways of conduct do we use, that make it possible to come as fully me and yet in the same time to be totally open to others, to all sorts of others, to create a collective we.

From all the methodologies that I know that are opening space I could draw up seven principles or ways of conduct. They are weary simple.

  1. You are invited, you don't have to come, but you are invited.
  2. You are included, and what makes you included is that you wish to come.
  3. You are the right people, no shame, no blame, you are perfect the way you are.
  4. It is all done by self organization, no one is telling you what to do, you are making it happen, creating the agenda etc.
  5. Transparency, we do it all in transparency so we can build on the wisdom, of one and another, of layer by layer.
  6. We encourage and invite some multiversity and multi version, it dose not have to be in sequential or linear logic, it happens all at the same time, it is great.
  7. You are free at all times to be mobile, and let your legs carry you to where your heart and mind wants to be

If we are getting or putting people together and we do not insist that they must agree, then they don't have to fight and compromise. And if we take people and we allow them to move freely, that means that people can self regulate and if they had enough and they feel that the emotion is arising and they can not control it, they can go somewhere else, they can self regulate themselves and they feel no constrain. And in this way of work where individuals can be fully themselves, they become, as I can see, fully alive, and create collectives that are living systems and not mechanical or machine like systems.

The Living systems infrastructure external links[edit]

Fr Brian S Bainbridge[edit]

Fr Brian Bainbridge is sometimes sited as the co-discoverer of Open Space, and some even claim that he was doing it long before Harrison Owen wrote his book. I like to place some attribution to his legacy in Open Space Technology, but I do not know what to reference, but here is something that he talked about.

here is a link: [1] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:20, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

You know, I have a hunch that the "politics" of a situation are really very important. So, if participants feel they have to take that into account, surely that is the right way without which no going forward is likely to happen. As space-holder, I sense I have no right to impose a "neutral" dimensioning, and if I do, then I am perhaps rendering the on-going action sterile. We live in an environment. Always. Hence my "whatever seems right to you" model for what might emerge either as a priority or as an action plan/intention/outcome/will-do. My two-pennyworth.

Fr Brian S Bainbridge Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (talk) 12:13, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

Martin Grimshaw[edit]


What is Open Space?

Open Space Technology, commonly Open Space, is a social technology, a tool for helping people to rally around a shared challenge, with minimum obstacles and maximum efficiency. It is used to organise large meetings, gatherings, conferences, problem solving and summits in which everyone has the opportunity to participate on their own terms.

Open Space is nothing new. The process was developed by Harrison Owen in the 1980’s and it has been applied countless thousands of times, in at least 135 countries, in a variety of ways, with groups of just a few people to several thousands, from hours to several days, and longer. However, the basic process and principles perhaps reach back into ancient human history.

Open Space offers a clear framework for allowing us to achieve remarkable things. Open Space embraces complexity and chaos, yet it remains confoundingly simple while enabling creativity and productivity to flourish.

The results can not only be dramatic, but its effect on participants used to the confines of careful planning, hierarchy, telling others what to do and being told what to do, can be transformative and enriching.

“Everything the Power of the World does, is done in a circle.” Black Elk, in Black Elk Speaks

Who is it for? What does it do?

Open space events have many applications. The most obvious one is as an alternative form of a conference – a conference without speakers, where the participants’ heart-felt issues are at the centre of discussion. This form can be applied in a multitude of settings, wherever there is an issue people have a common passion about, in communities, political gatherings, peace talks, research or specialist areas. Open Space is a completely opt-in event, so invitations go out to many people and those passionate about the theme turn up.

Within organisations Open Space can also be applied for more specific purposes. Open Space can be used for:

*   product design and development (synchronisation)
*   strategy development, bringing in whole workforce
*   supply-chain issues, coordinating suppliers
*   redesigning the organisation, bottom up
*   innovation and prototyping, including customers
*   complexity problem solving using diverse perspectives
*   collective intelligence letting future emerge
*   inviting an organisational transformation process

It is this latter application, inviting the relevant workforce to co-create an implementation or a transformation that our Caterfly Open Smart Transformation is concerned with.

In all case Open Space is a way of inviting a larger number the workforce into the process, thus opening the space for a larger view of things, rather than leaving it to a few select people to manage. This is particularly important where there are big issues at stake which ignite the passions of many people. The self-organising aspect of Open Space enables any number of people to be involved efficiently and constructively.

Open Space Events can be from 1/2 day to several days. It should be noted, however, they are far more effective and powerful when run over 2 or 3 days. This is because the first day tends to focus on current and past issues, and after a night’s sleep new ideas and energies are created which means the second and third (action planning) days are far more creative, and make use of the synergies of the minds present.

How does it work?

The basic process is counter intuitively straightforward:

  • Clearly define the challenge, and express it in a few words. This is what you are inviting participants to get enthused about.
  • Everyone sits in a big circle. A facilitator gives some basic instructions, then lets them get on with it.
  • There is no prepared agenda, just a big blank board with available time slots and areas to use. Participants are invited to articulate what they really want to know, share, discuss or work on, and co-create the agenda with whatever sub topics they want.
  • People then work out what seems most important, urgent or interesting to them, and go there. Some people will likely end up either flitting about from discussion to discussion, or getting a cup of tea and serendipitously having just the brain wave or interaction they need right there.
  • Through the event people share what they’ve done, thus building a kind of ‘collective consciousness’ of the whole shebang.
  • Toward the end of the event, everyone comes back together in a big circle and shares what they did, learnt, or what they want to happen next.
  • Usually all participants get an anthology of the summaries of each session, perhaps with a plan of action, or key outcomes.

Turn up if you want to, do what feels important, let others do what they feel is important, let go and allow it to happen in whatever way participants conspire to make happen.

The reason it seems to work

Leaders and facilitators allow people to work it out for themselves and get out of the way. No one is coerced, and no one has to be there. Opt-in participation devolves responsibility to individuals to choose to follow their passion.

There are some basic principles to help people let go of trying to be in control, and embrace what is actually happening. A metaphor would be a surfer, who rather than trying to direct the waves, finds the right place to catch one and ride it.

There is just one firm rule, known as The Law Of Two Feet, although it is more of a playful hint than strict instruction. The Law says that ‘if you are neither learning nor contributing, it is your duty to find another place to be.’ Rather than choosing a session and being stuck in it or feeling obliged, participants are encouraged to move around, increasing impact and efficiency for the individual, for each sub group, and for the whole.

Rather than try to solve a problem with just one brain, perhaps the boss or a management team, or trying to engage numerous individuals over a long period of time, Open Space harnesses the creativity and skills of everyone, all at once. What might take a dedicated team many months, gets accelerated over a very short burst, and results in more brilliant solutions that no one could have predicted.

Organising people is hard work and inefficient. Helping people to organise themselves is surprisingly easy, effective and energising. Meanwhile, it becomes easier for people to really engage, and those voices can be heard which often aren’t. Open Space works particularly well where there is no known outcome, with very complex issues and where any form of pre-planning is futile as letting the future emerge rather than trying to control is essential.

A part of how Open Space came to be discovered, was Harrison Owen’s experience while co-organising a conference. It took a lot of effort. People showed up, and sat passively in rows of chairs listening to experts. But when the coffee breaks came, the event came alive, buzzing with spontaneous conversation. The coffee break was the best bit. Open Space is an attempt to turn the entire experience into something like the coffee break. Some people started thinking of it as the opposite of a conference, and now the term unConference has sometimes been used.

Lastly, Open Space events can also be significantly greener, utilising human resources more than material. I often refer to them as ‘compostable conferences.’

And that’s it.

“There is no order without chaos.” ~H. Owen

Added tips[edit]

I had originally presented them on the page as a "what not to do/what to be aware of" list, but recently found they'd been deleted. I have restored them in inverse form as tips for success, which is probably how I should have presented them initially. MakeItWorkBetter (talk) 14:29, 7 July 2015 (UTC)


What is it[edit]

Open Space Technology is an eclectic and smart mix of traditional wisdom (circle, principles, talking stick) with modern facilitation techniques (rule of two feet, bees and butterflies, agenda, breakout sessions) that allows self-organization emerge in human gatherings. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:12, 2 February 2016 (UTC)


Sounds like what many would-be business consultants imagine they can get paid a lot of money for by talking about at conferences (and for which a tiny handful unfortunately do -- where's the cocktail bar?). I fail to understand why it's of any greater significance or what impact it's actually had. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:29, 24 February 2016 (UTC)

HO on research on Open Space Technology[edit]

So for me, if you a going to do research on Open Space Technology (OST) -- it really needs to be done "by the book." The Book being, "Open Space Technology: A User's Guide 3rd Edition (Berrett- Koehler, 2008)" I might consider that the "Lab Book."

The experimental procedure is clearly laid out.

The "event" will be convened around an issue people seriously care about (Real issue - not pretend, made up, chosen at random).

All participants will come in response to a Real Invitation. One they can refuse. No coercion. All are present because they choose to be there.

Once present, participants will be invited to sit in a circle, create a bulletin board of the issues they care about, and the open a market place to make/confirm the times and places of meeting.

The Facilitator will be present only at the beginning (1st 15 min.) and appear again only at the end (of the day or program). In other words, The facilitator will NEVER intervene. NEVER. Picking up coffee cups is appropriate. Otherwise, being "present and invisible" -- is the rule.

Anything else... "Variants, Twists, Tweaks -- whatever ... is not OST. Could be great. May be fantastic. But it ain't OST.

And when it comes to "results" the "researcher" might check "Wave Rider: Leadership for High Performance in a Self Organizing World." That would be my best effort at a Final Report for the 30 year experiment. Which doesn't make it perfect, right or anything special. But it might be a place to start.

Harrison — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:38, 23 February 2017 (UTC)

Tagging for promotional content and copyvio[edit]

Nearly all the references cited in this article come from sources that are not independent of the topic, but instead are people working with and promoting OST. Often the content too closely reflects the structure and wording of such promotional sources, for example[2] This article needs a rewrite, based on what neutral WP:RS have said about OST. If independent RS have not written about this topic in some detail, it may not be notable enough for a Wikipedia article. HouseOfChange (talk) 13:49, 15 July 2018 (UTC)

News & scholarly sources[edit]

Here are two Google searches:

Peaceray (talk) 04:06, 16 July 2018 (UTC)

I tried to find some independent sources about this, using a Google search for "Open Space Technology" + criticism. Here a couple of possibilities, for somebody who wants to take on the major rewrite that is required:

Copy vio[edit]

OK I found a couple of direct word to word match with this article but it's hard to know who copy whom. --Tyw7  (🗣️ Talk to me • ✍️ Contributions) 10:48, 16 July 2018 (UTC)

Close paraphrase to

Pinging HouseOfChange --Tyw7  (🗣️ Talk to me • ✍️ Contributions) 10:59, 16 July 2018 (UTC)

Ping Peaceray. Article probably need to be edited heavily. The more I look, the more copy vios I see. --Tyw7  (🗣️ Talk to me • ✍️ Contributions) 17:55, 16 July 2018 (UTC)

Fixed or not a copvio[edit]

I removed copy violations from the following sources with strikethrough:
I removed the {{db-copyvio}} since I removed all the copyvio cited in that template that was "minwords=5" or longer that was not clearly attributed or a false positive. I am mindful that there are additional sources to go through.
Peaceray (talk) 21:42, 16 July 2018 (UTC)

Contested deletion[edit]

This page should not be speedy deleted as an unambiguous copyright infringement, because I will edit it throughout today to remove copvio. --Peaceray (talk) 17:53, 16 July 2018 (UTC)

@Tyw7: Noting that "minwords=3" in is ridiculously low as items like "an open space meeting", "of the process and", "of an open space", "open space meetings"(!), "the meeting with", etc. show up in the report. I am using "minwords=5" as a criteria because it is actually meaningful. Peaceray (talk) 19:51, 16 July 2018 (UTC)
I think it's more of format as previously the headings seem to mirror that article. --Tyw7  (🗣️ Talk to me • ✍️ Contributions) 19:55, 16 July 2018 (UTC)
That article was noted by HouseOfChange above --Tyw7  (🗣️ Talk to me • ✍️ Contributions) 19:56, 16 July 2018 (UTC)--Tyw7  (🗣️ Talk to me • ✍️ Contributions) 19:55, 16 July 2018 (UTC)
Many thanks to Peaceray and Tyw7 for the gritty hard work they are doing to rescue this article. HouseOfChange (talk) 20:04, 16 July 2018 (UTC)