Open Space – 2013 and Beyond

Be in no doubt, Open Space Technology is a thing. (See footnote).  Harrison Owen specifically called (and continues to call) it a “technology”. It was a new technology designed to replace a tired old one. It was also called a technology at a time when, in management and organisational circles, facilitation methods and approaches were…

Open Space Technology and Open Space

Open Space Technology opens space. That might sound a bit strange, or even a bit obvious, but bear with me.  I’ve said that for a reason. In the Open Space Technology community of practitioners and fans I’ve encountered over the last twenty years, there is a strong behavioural pattern of not changing the first and…

Emergent Convergence and Open Space

A development in Open Space in recent years has been the “bolting on” to an Open Space event of an end-of-the-day action planning session. Other end-of-day activities include a kind of forced final round of reflections, often involving a talking stick or some kind of prioritisation of issues, stopping short of full action planning. In…

The Beauty of Open Space

I often hear Open Space practitioners calling Open Space Technology, “beautiful”. That’s a big word to attach to a “technology”. Nature is often beautiful because of its simplicity. When our lives feel overcomplicated, and our brows are furrowed, a walk in the woods, in the “clear air” can also clear our own inner air. Sitting…

Opening Space for the Open Space Principles

One of my favourite memories of Open Space events occurs when you see some peoples’ reactions to seeing the “Principles” for the first time. Of course, these principles are… Whenever it starts is the right time. Whoever comes are the right people. Whatever happens, is the only thing that could have. When it’s over, it’s…

A Visual Flavour of Open Space

Here are some visual links to Open Space in action. They evoke for me the spirit of Open Space, and why it is so valuable and successful, why it works, and why self-organisation is such a natural process… Many show the simplicity of self-organisation, and how we can create much from very little. Many show…

“Sort of” Open Space

Nadia Waber, on the Open Space Technology Linkedin Group posted the question, “What are the uncompromisable elements of Open Space Technology?” and, on the same group, Viv McWaters, quotes a facilitator who refers to a “sort of” Open Space. Many replies followed that report, with a number essentially taking up what, in other fields, would…

When does the Space Open?

Often the space opens when the Marketplace opens, and people get up to offer sessions and when people sign up to attend them. That is often the case because a lot of facilitators mistakenly think that is what the Open Space is about. They “open the space” with an introduction, a build up to that…

A hundred Opening Circles

Similar to the 100 Open Space Timetables, this is a visual look at different opening circles. It’s interesting to see that different visual impacts. There aren’t really a hundred but I’ll be adding more as I find them. For me, each of them has their own beauty and uniqueness. Each one was part of a…

Trapped by Complexity – the role of the Physical Space

Some of my favourite stories of Open Space events are those where the whole thing was “cobbled together” and turned out to be all the better for it. Often it wasn’t cobbled together at all; there was simply plenty of self-organisation on the day, rather than lots of pre-design and organisation. What we are really…

100 Open Space Timetables

Here’s a gallery of Open Space programmes. Each timetable is different. I’ve linked to them as I’d need to get permission to put each on here directly. I think there’s a lot to be learned from this gallery. There aren’t really a hundred but I’ll add more regularly and do please add your own links…

Over-Control and Open Space

I’ve often wondered why it is that people who are committed to self-organisation processes (such as Open Space Technology) often turn out to be the biggest organisers of other people of them all! I think there are a number of reasons why facilitators of self-organisation fall into the trap of well-intentioned over-organisation. One reason is…

Growing Your Work in Open Space

I shared some of this at WOSonOS2012 – the world Open Space on Open Space which took place in London in October. At the core was the notion of moving away from pushing, selling, marketing Open Space in favour of simply responding to the questions of the times in which we live and describing OS…

WOSonOs 2012 Blog

Friday 12th October 9am This is my first day for blogging. Looking forward to three insightful days. Thought for the day: Potential wants to emerge. First observation. Adorning the walls are the “principles” of Open Space. Note “Wherever it happens is the right place”. There is also “Be prepared to be surprised”. I’m very intrigued…

Facilitation metaphors and Open Space

Trawling through the many web sites and articles reporting stories of Open Space events, a range of metaphors can be seen at play in the language used by the reporters and storytellers. One of the most prominent is “facilitate”. What is facilitation? “The term facilitation is broadly used to describe any activity which makes tasks…

How Important is the Circle?

How important is the circle in an Open Space Event? The circle is “opened” and I wonder what that means? Was it once closed? What is it opened to? Jay Smith describes a circle opened by Alan Stevens in glowing terms: “Alan walks into the circle, doesn’t say a word, just starts pacing in a…

The Vital Link Between “Re” and “OS”

The prefix “re” is defined in the dictionary as: prefix meaning “back to the original place, again” Back to the original place, again. Now, hold that in mind for a few moments. I’ve suggested elsewhere that Open Space, whatever it becomes locally labelled as in a specific context, is a self-organising process for a community…

The Fundamental Principle of Open Space

The fundamental principle of open space: For an open space event to be truly emergent, the facilitator must also behave emergently. Sadly open space has become a fixed structure, a frame, and many adhere to it dogmatically. At best it is then a Nightingale’s cage with the door open, but not a true open space…

My one minute Open Space introduction.

“Imagine a conference that didn’t start with a loaded agenda, but instead an empty one. Imagine all the people there were the right people because they had chosen to be there and wanted to really explore something, or solve something together. Imagine a conference where we were relaxed but conscious about time, and where nobody…

What Open Space Really Is

Open Space is the name given to a discovery. That discovery took a particular form. It was also not a particularly new discovery. What was new about it was the potential to apply it in organisational and social settings. Open Space was discovered by Harrison Owen and – legend has it – it was a…

Open Space links

Here is my page of links to the world of open space. Critique and Research Academic research on OS A short critique Open Space not so open for introverts? Definitions A description Another definition A definition from Coaching Connect A definition by John Perkins Another from Green World Trust A definition from Planeta Art of…

My Open Space Story

I first encountered Open Space back in the early 1990s at a four day open space on The Future of Management Development. It was held at the idyllic Isle of Thorns in Sussex and was facilitated by Jack Martin Leith. Four days! Open space’s spirit resonated with me deeply and was in line with my…