Open space

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Open Space is a technology for making meetings and conferences grass-rooted and effective.

The Four Open Space Principles

  1. Whoever comes is the right people.
  2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.
  3. Whenever it starts is the right time
  4. It is over when it is over.

Read more about the Open Space Principles

Does it Work? Yes.

Open Space works when:

  1. the work to be done is complex
  2. the people and ideas involved are diverse
  3. the passion for resolution (and potential for conflict) are high
  4. and the time to get it done was yesterday.

Open Space has 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."

Why Does This Matter Now

Open Space Technology will be used at the conference to help us conduct our conversations in a way that aids individuals and groups to have the best meeting of minds that is possible.

Our schedule will be create using an Open Space format. You can find an empty schedule on the wall. If you have a topic you would like to invite others to discuss with you, you can write that topic on a sheet of paper and place it into the schedule. As others review the schedule looking for conversations they would like to join they can write their name on your card so that you and others will know that there is interest. If you are wondering whether your topic is 'appropriate' you might like to take a look at the "Does It Work" Section above to review the Open Space conditions. If your topic works with these, then put it up there and give others a chance to participate. In the discussion. Take a moment to introduce your topic so that others can get a picture of how you see it, and do your best to maintain curiosity about the ideas that others have on the topic.

During each session you have the opportunity to take note son your discussion for the purpose of sharing with the rest of the conference and those who are participating through the internet. One solution for this is to type notes from your session directly into a wiki of your choice. These notes will be printed and hung on the wall for others to peruse.

Daily News reviews will be held over dinner every evening. Participants will have a chance to share the fruits of their discussions with everyone else.

When you host your session take a moment to share your issue and concern. Others are joining your session for any number of reasons. Perhaps they have similar ideas, or a different opinion. Regardless of their personal experience, the idea is that everyone votes with their feet. Let's find out what kind of solutions and plans we can create together.

Why Use Open Space in Berlin?

We don't have to! No one has to do anything, right? That said, it's nice when we have some technology that everyone can access and become an expert at. Open Space is very accessible, easy to fall back to, and chances are that the way you already like to have discussions about important business isn't that far from what OPen Space is! So why not do it without OpenSpace? Well, not everyone knows that there's a few small ... rules? What's the right word...perhaps...concerns? I mean...what if you sit down for a discussion...on a topic you care about, but it turns out that the person holding the discussion doesn't show up? Well....the session starts when you get there, when it starts! Open Space has it that the right people are the ones who are there! Neat, huh? So, we can use Open Space as a set of loose references to keep looking back to when we have a question or concern. In a sense it's a choice about what kind of culture to subscribe to at a conference. Let's do Open! What do YOU think?

What is Open Space Technology? More Background...of the tedious kind :)

Open Space Technology is one way to enable all kinds of people, in any kind of organization, to create inspired meetings and events. Over the last 20+ years, it has also become clear that opening space, as an intentional leadership practice, can create inspired organizations, where ordinary people work together to create extraordinary results with regularity.

In Open Space meetings, events and organizations, participants create and manage their own agenda of parallel working sessions around a central theme of strategic importance, such as: What is the strategy, group, organization or community that all stakeholders can support and work together to create?

With groups of 5 to 2000+ people -- working in one-day workshops, three-day conferences, or the regular weekly staff meeting -- the common result is a powerful, effective connecting and strengthening of what's already happening in the organization: planning and action, learning and doing, passion and responsibility, participation and performance.

openspaceworld.org is the official website but most of it is a useless collection of vagaries and testimonials. For real information about OpenSpace see the User's Guide.

Though Open Space Events can appear chaotic, it can be helpful to use some organisational tools in Open Space. Methods to do so can be Moderation (more in german here) , sometimes refered to as as Metaplan technique. Whereas the moderators takes care of structurizing discussions, encouraging participants, visualizing ideas and results, try to establish a positive climate ... the community concentrates on ideas, creativity and achieving results. The Moderationmethode seems a not very known thing outside german speaking countries , so i only found details of it in german. e.g.: Moderation in agenda-processes, which holds many advices on what moderation in this context is and how to moderate, or Advices on Moderationsmethode on one sheet of paper (pdf).


When and Why?

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. openspaceworld.org

See also