Open Space Technology

Open Space Technology (OST)—a simple yet profound method for facilitating community meetings and conferences—runs entirely on the passions and interests of the people who attend. The program emerges out of the group itself.

Using less than one hour, no matter how large the group, the facilitator outlines the procedure for creating topics to discuss, the 4 principles of Open Space, and the Law of Two Feet, or what I prefer to call the Sole Law.

So, What Happens?
Anyone with an interest in a topic writes it on a rectangle of newsprint with their name, announces it to the group and tapes it up on the designated part of the wall. After all topics are announce, people stand near the schedule wall and directly negotiate changes such as combining topics or changing times or room assignments.

Who Tells People What to Do?

No one. Everyone takes responsibility for their decisions. Owen has distilled Four Principles that invoke passionate responsibility and flow in a gathering:

  1. Whoever come are the right people.
  2. Whenever it starts is the right time.
  3. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
  4. When it's over it's over.
The Sole Law or, The Law of Two Feet, states that at any time a person feels a meeting is not contributing to their learning needs they have the responsibility to themselves to get up and move, that is use their two feet or four wheels to move to a more interesting place.

Naturally, this creates two roles: Bumblebees and Butterflies. Bumblebees fly from group to group cross-pollinating the discussions while Butterflies sit around looking relaxed--interesting discussions emerge around them as people find them and pause to chat.

After the initial instructions and sign-up process people meet in small group discussions for hours until the whole group gathers for closing reflections.

I received my training in OST in January of 1994. I have facilitated and attended dozens of OST events since. Intrigued? Call or email and let's talk.