Open Space – Pure and Simple

An invitation goes out to a group or community of people who are in a position to voluntarily attend an open space event.

This open space event is based on this invitation: an invitation to a conversation on a topic that will make that community restless enough to attend the event and to “get to work” on that topic.

The people who come are the right people for the open space event because they have freely chosen to be there and want to get to work on the topic that has brought them to attend…

How can we….?
A powerful question or challenge…
A call to action…
A critical or urgent issue…
A workshop or experiment…
Sharing stories and experiences…
Sharing ideas…
A planning session…

We need: A venue that is big enough for a circle of chairs and some break out meeting spaces.

There’s an empty timetable up on a wall – times and breakout places, waiting to be filled by those who will fill the chairs in the circle.

In this event, we are going to fill the timetable ourselves with sessions. No content, expect for the original invitation, is known or decided in advance.

The people arrive and sit in the circle. We begin with an Opening circle…

A facilitator opens the space, describing the process in a few minutes: Welcome to this open space. In a few minutes we will organise our day in terms of sessions that anyone here can lead. The market place is open for anyone to get up, walk to the centre of the circle and pick up a pice of paper and a pen and announce the session to the whole circle. It can be a conversation, a discussion, a working session, a talk, in fact anything that the session convenor wants to offer.

They then write the title of that session on the paper, announce it to the circle, and post it somewhere in the timetable.

This goes on until no one else seems to want to offer any more sessions. The timetabled fills up – organised by we who are in the room, and not pre set before we arrived.

The facilitator invites people to get the best out of the open space day by choosing to follow a number of principles that tend to help an open space day get things done in the real world:

– that whenever it starts is the right time: let time flow where it needs to, don’t force it
– whoever comes are the right people: work with who is here
– whatever happens, happens: work with what happens, don’t get lost in regret
– when it’s over, it is over: things run as long as they need to
And finally, to feel okay about taking yourself wherever you feel you need to be, which includes feeling free to move between sessions, even being a bumblebee by floating from session to session, and also being a flower by just sitting somewhere informally and, before you know it, a few people might join you and a new, unplanned conversation or session might just spring up

The day begins, people go to their chosen session, session leaders type up notes from their sessions on provided pcs and these are printed and posted onto a breaking news board on the wall so we can see what is emerging from the day. Typing up happens during spare moments throughout the day. They can also be typed yp to an agreed timescale after the event with a final report sent to all after the event. Some open space events look to do this during the event itself with a chance to finalise and edit afterwards.

At the end of the day, we come back together into a closing circle, and each person has a chance ro reflect on the way and say anything significant that is in their hearts and minds. The circle is closed.

The day closes.

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One thought on “Open Space – Pure and Simple

  1. Very good summary!

    In the following paragraph:
    «And finally, to feel okay about taking yourself wherever you feel you need to be, which includes feeling free to move between sessions, even being a butterfly by floating from session to session, and also being a bumble bee- just sitting somewhere informally and, before you know it, a few people might join you and a new, unplanned conversation or session might just spring up»,
    I think the roles of bumble-bees and butterflies are reversed. Not that this matters too much…

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