Open Space Technology: A User's Guide is just what the name implies: a hands-on, detailed description of facilitating Open Space Technology (OST). OST is an effective, economical, fast, and easily repeatable strategy for organizing meetings of between 5 and 2,000 participants that has been used in thousands of organizations in 134 countries and just keeps growing in popularity. Written by the originator of the method, this is the most authoritative book on the rationale, procedures, and requirements of OST.
OST enables self-organizing groups of all sizes to deal with hugely complex issues in a very short period of time. This step-by-step user's guide details what needs to be done before, during, and after an Open Space event.
Harrison Owen details all the practical considerations necessary to create Open Space. He begins with the most important question-should you use Open Space at all?-and examines what types of situations are appropriate for Open Space Technology and what types are not. He then goes on to look at nuts-and-bolts issues such as supplies, logistics, and who should come and how you should go about getting them there.
This third edition adds a survey of the current status of Open Space Technology around the world, an updated section on the latest available technology for report writing (a key aspect of the Open Space process), and an updated list of resources.
Preface to the Third Edition
Chapter I Open Space Technology?
The Genesis of Open Space Technology
Experience to Date
Chapter II Preparation
It Always Works
Working with The Client if you are NOT the Sponsor
Focus and Intent
Time and Space
OST in Combination
Other Considerations-Like When Do We Eat?
Consultation with the Facility Management
Checklist for Open Space
Chapter III Proceedings and The Electronic Connection
How Does It Work Practically?
Keep It Simple
How Many Printers?
Reports without Computers
Wikis, Blogs, and Websites
Chapter IV Personal Preparation for Open Space
Creating and Holding Time and Space
Being Authentically Present
Chapter V Site Preparation
Physical Arrangements: Chairs in a Circle
Plenty of Space
Make the Wall Accessible
And Nothing in the Middle (Almost)
Creation and Placement of Signs
Space/Time Matrix and Daily Schedule
Chapter VI Creating Time and Space
Focus the Group
State the Theme
Describe the Process
The Four Principles and One Law
A Final Admonition
Time to Go to Work
Creating the Community Bulletin Board
Opening the Village Marketplace
Chapter VII Holding Time and Space
Collecting Coffee Cups and Trash
Sensing and Responding to the Environment
Morning Announcements and Evening News
Empowering the People
Potholes in the Road
Dealing with the Outrageous
To Intervene or Not Intervene
Chapter VIII Movement to Action
Getting the Whole System in the Room
Prioritization and Action Planning
Convergence and Action Plans
Another Way: Opening the Space for Action
Chapter IX Endings and New Beginnings
The Talking Stick Ceremony
Alternatives to the Talking Stick Ceremony
Reflections on Open Space: The Medicine Wheel
Chapter X Follow Up
Keep the Space Open / Open more Space
Chapter XI Unexpected Gifts: Leadership, Performance, Peace
Peace and Peacemaking
Chapter XII What Next?
About the Author
Open Space Technology?
On 21 April 1992, a group of about 225 people gathered in Denver, Colorado, for a two-day meeting to develop cooperative arrangements for the effective expenditure of $1.5 billion designated for highway construction on tribal and public lands. Roughly one-third of these people were Native Americans, one-third were federal bureaucrats, and one-third were from state and local governments. On the face of it, the prospects for a peaceful, let alone productive, meeting seemed less than bright. The participants were all natural, if not historical, enemies. As a matter of fact, the results were rather surprising.
When the people arrived, it was clear that this was not business as usual. To begin with, there was no advance agenda. People knew only when the meeting would start, when it would end, and that somehow (as yet undefined) they would accomplish the task before them. Needless to say, there were more than a few skeptics, whose disbelief was not lessened by the physical appearance of the room in which they were to meet. What they found were two large concentric circles of chairs, with nothing in the middle and a blank space of wall behind.
Within one and one-half hours everything had changed; even the skeptics were hard at work dealing with the issues of personal concern to them. To reach that point, each person who cared to was invited to identify any issue related to the central task for which they had some real passion, write it down on a quarter sheet of newsprint, and post it on the wall. In doing so, they accepted responsibility for convening a session on their issue and making a written report of the results. When all the issues were posted, everybody went to the wall en masse and signed up for the sessions in which they cared to participate. And then it was off to work. That was it, and this was Open Space Technology (OST).
In the course of the two-day meeting, that diverse group created, and totally self-managed, an agenda built around some fifty-two different task groups. The agenda itself was created in less than half an hour, and the various task groups produced about 150 pages of proceedings in thirty-six hours. Thanks to the wonders of modern computers coupled with overnight printing, copies of the final proceedings rolled hot off the press in time for the departure of all participants on the morning of the third day. During the concluding session, one of the Native Americans said that never before had he felt so listened to and so much a part of the discussions. The feeling was shared by all parties.
It is also noteworthy that the decision to hold the meeting was made in March of the same year. Thus, the whole idea went from conception to delivery in about six weeks. There was one facilitator for the total event.
Stated in bald terms, these claims for such a large meeting may sound extreme, if not outrageous. The conventional wisdom says, and everybody knows, that creating a meeting of such size, complexity, and potential for conflict takes months of preparation and an army of planners and facilitators. Furthermore, the notion that the proceedings could not only be completed but also delivered to the participants prior to departure is going a little too far. Unfortunately for the conventional wisdom, the event did take place exactly as described, and more than that, it was not the first such event. Over the past twenty years, thousands of gatherings have taken place with similar results. While the experience may not yet be commonplace, it is definitely not a fluke. It is repeatable. It is called Open Space Technology.
How Open Space Technology came to be was not a matter of careful planning and thoughtful design. It began out of frustration, almost as a joke.
The Genesis of Open Space Technology
In 1983, I had occasion to organize an international conference for 250 participants. It took me a full year of
Über den Autor
Harrison Owen is the president of H.H. Owen and Co. and the author of The Power of Spirit, The Spirit of Leadership, and Expanding Our Now: The Story of Open Space Technology.
1. Open Space Technology?
3. The Electronic Connection
4. Personal Preparation for Open Space
5. Site Preparation
6. Getting Started--Creating Time and Space
7. The Four Principles and the One Law
8. Time to Go to Work
9. Holding Space and Time
10. Special Considerations for Three Day Events
11. Endings and New Beginnings
12. Fringe Benefits and Follow Up
13. What Next?
What if you could identify a mission-critical issue for your organization, bring together the people with something to contribute and something at stake, focus on that issue and take decisive action all in the same meeting? A fantasy? Not with the application of Open Space Technology. Open Space Technology is a methodological tool that enables self-organizing groups of all sizes to deal with hugely complex issues in a very short period of time. Authored by the originator of Open Space Technology, Open Space Technology: A User's Guide details what needs to be done before, during, and after an Open Space event. It is the most authoritative book available on how to plan and run a successful Open Space event. This 3rd edition adds a survey of the current status of Open Space Technology around the world, an updated section on the latest available technology for report writing (a key aspect of the Open Space process), and an updated list of resources.