Open Space Examples – Keynotes and Hybrids

Thanks to Zelle Nelson and Maureen K McCarthy for compiling these stories of Open Space being used in conjunction with conferences, speakers and other hybrid designs. 

  • In Asheville, NC, a loose community that was coming together around the 2004 election and a desire for change gathered to hear a speech by Col. Robert Bowman. Out of a 3-hour, 70-person Open Space following the speech [The Kindness Campaign] was created and has been sustained to the present. — Maureen K McCarthy and Zelle Nelson
  • Over the course of 2 ½ days in Denver, 230 of the most innovative planners, developers, tool providers, civic leaders, artists and othersfrom over 30 states and 3 countries were brought together to share learning, build networks and seed innovation in place. 3 keynotes inspired and provoked while a day of programmed sessions saw presentations and discussion facilitated by 60 leaders in the field. The second half of the conference was held in Open Space where lines stretched out the hall as participants proposed session topics, collaboratively built an agenda, and moderated over 60 intensive, small-group discussions, the results of which were captured as a living transcript using an online wiki. — Chris Corrigan and Michael Herman
  • Two hundred highly-motivated professional financial planners joined for 4 days (2 days of presentations and training), 1 1/2 days in Open Space for their annual conference to discuss best practices in their own businesses. These professionals connected so deeply that in the closing circle on the last day there was not a single dry eye as they shared their experiences. The impact and flow of information accessed at this conference was unprecedented in the 15 year history of this particular conference. — Maureen K McCarthy and Zelle Nelson
  • The school district of Fairbanks, Alaska (covering an area the size of the entire state of Connecticut) held a 2-day, 250-person conference on ‘Becoming a Peacemaker.’ Half the participants were students in the middle and high schools (ages 13-18) and all participants had some experience with mediation and conflict resolution. The kids did exceptionally well in Open Space and one high school student led a series of four breakout sessions to create an entire suicide prevention program that for the middle school students. The statewide suicide prevention hotline was up and running within weeks of the conference. — Michael Herman, Chris Corrigan, Judi Richardson, Julie Smith, Dan and Heidi Chay
  • In Kiev in October with 90 people from over 20 countries in Europe. It was at a 7 day conference, the first 4 days we setting the goals, looking at reality, and community building. The next 2 days were open space, and the final day was action planning continuing in an OST style. — Bhavesh Patel
  • Thirty-five youth from the City of Vancouver gathered on a Friday, to meet one another, build community and reflect on their experience in a 2-month process designed to learn about, discuss and report violations of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Fifty-five people, including two Members of the Provincial Legislative Assembly and other representatives of government and organizations, gathered with the youth Saturday morning to view their performance piece that expressed a summary of what the project had learned and participate in a short and intense Open Space. Topics raised included what to do to help youth live independently and in safe conditions, stopping police harassment of Aboriginal and Latino youth by working with the police, and educating youth and adults on rights. To have provincial politicians sitting in the room with street youth, working together to move forward the learnings from the project was a powerful experience. — Chris Corrigan
  • After three OST events with a group focused on Legal Education for Aboriginal Families in Vancouver, Canada with 45, 45, and 32 attending; with 11, 15, and 13 topics being discussed), there has been a shift in awareness because of the process. The community has discovered it’s resources, has realized that it has itself to look to for the future. It has shared deep experiences. This little community has begun to lay down a foundation for itself. It has become something. — Chris Corrigan
  • For four days, 80 drilling and technology engineers from bp (British Petroleum) representing 15 different countries joined together to share best practices and to focus on the future of their company and industry. The schedule included various presentations followed by Open Space, for the first 3 days and ended on the 4th day with 9 different teams heading up 12 different initiatives to be carried out in the coming year. — Maureen K McCarthy and Zelle Nelson
  • In 2000, 300 business leaders from around the world were gathered together by Fast Company Magazine and met for 3 days of inspiring speeches and Open Space focused on building a community of professionals. Countless partnerships, connections and projects were launched and supported by this amazing conference. — Maureen K McCarthy and Zelle Nelson
  • In Racine, Wisconsin, 35 young people (ages 12-20) gathered for one 4-hour, afterschool conference in Open Space. As a result of that meeting they initiated a youth art newsletter, a downtown, lakefront skateboarding park, and the largest YMCA Earth Service Corps chapter in the country. They called themselves ‘Youth Action,’ used OST at all their meetings, and eventually ended up introducing OST to young leaders from all over the USA. They presented in a standard sort of 45-minute timeslot, but people got so excited and interested in Open Space that conference organizers cleared a half-day chunk of the multi-day conference so the Racine students could Open Space for everyone. The conversations on Diversity were so energetic that they nearly swamped the rest of the day’s schedule. — Michael Herman
  • The Agile Software Alliance and Extreme Programming Universe ran one third of their annual, 300-person, international conference in Open Space. The first morning was full of keynote speeches. A ten-minute pre-Opening announcement was made just before lunch and the full Opening ran parallel to other, scheduled workshops right after lunch. Open Space continued in parallel to peer-reviewed paper presentations and ‘birds-of-a-feather’ interest group meetings, for two more days. A number of people attending this conference learned enough from watching the process to go out and facilitate their own meetings in Open Space, including follow-ups to this first one. We gathered some participant comments [here]. — Michael Herman
  • A leading oilfield and information services firm hosted a global leadership conference called InterChange. Within that traditional conference featuring powerpoint presentations by forty of their most senior executives, they used Open Space for a 6-hour strategy forum, broken into four different working sessions, sprinkled throughout the five-day program, for 120 managers from all around the world. They published 50-page proceedings online internally and delivered a printed report for all participants to discuss directly with their Chairman and CEO, in the closing session of the conference. — Michael Herman
  • The Annual Conference and Association Business Meeting of Statewide Medical Group Management Association, began with one day of pre-registration, committee meetings, and welcoming reception. The main day of the conference was a one-day Open Space, for association members, exhibitors and other professionals to address most important issues facing the association, its member organizations, and professional individuals in the midst of massive transformation in healthcare. One hunderd participants designed a 20-session confernence agenda, self-organized to address the issues raised, and produced 30 pages of written proceedings. The exhibitor display booths, usually relegated to a separate room, lined three walls of the main ballroom meeting space with the fourth one reserved for the Open Space agenda postings. The second day of the conference featured traditional, planned workshop topics in 45-minute timeslots. A less-than-exciting annual association business meeting happened over lunch in the middle of Open Space, which only heightened appreciation for the Openess of the rest of that day. One clinic administrator met with three different consultants in one session, to work on a new building plan. They accomplished together in two hours what they all agreed was the equivalent of $30,000 and several months of consulting work. –Sheila Isakson and Michael Herman
  • Finally, Tenneson Woolf started an [interesting thread in the OSLIST] email community, retro-fitting a traditional conference with all kinds of new spaces, some of them more and some less specifically like Open Space. When you get to [his post], click the arrow/lightbulb button to read more posts in this thread. A number of others have added to the excellent list of ideas he offered in [this message].