New Research and Journal

An evidence-based practical guide to effective use of Large Scale Interventions. Towards sustainable organisational change with the whole system. Author Tonnie van der Zouwen. Read more


The Journal “Challenging Organisations and Society . reflective hybrids® (COS)” is the first journal to be dedicated to the rapidly growing requirements of reflective hybrids in our complex organizations and society of the 21st century. Its international and multidisciplinary approaches balance theory and practice and show a wide range of perspectives organized in and between organizations and society. Being global, diverse in thinking and acting outside the box are the targets for its authors and readers in management, consulting and science. Read more

Self-Organization Master Class at OD World Summit

The OD World Summit 2010 — Co-creating a New World of Organizations and Communities — is coming up on 22-26 August, in Budapest, Hungary. Peggy Holman will lead a master class called Open Space Technology: Supporting Self-organization and a number of other OS friends are involved in various dimensions of conference planning and support.

Real-Time (Global) Virtual Collaboration

Lucy Garrick reports from The North Shore Group, Seattle WA on a synthesis of Open Space and a number of other change facilitation and virtual collaboration tools…

The Time For Global Collaboration Has Come. In the last month I helped design and facilitated the world’s first real-time global collaboration on the subject of positive change. This work excites me because as technology is providing new ways to connect and work together, RTVC provides an opportunity to reconfigure the way people collaborate in organizations as well as across organizations, communities, institutions and governments.

What is real-time global virtual collaboration (RTVC)?

RTVC is a group of change consultants and facilitators who adapt and integrate traditional collaborative change tools and facilitated techniques, such as inquiry, dialog and other group processes, for positive change.

The concept of the world’s first Real-time Virtual Collaboration Conference was to hatched about four weeks ago. It demonstrates what is possible when integrating facilitative change tools such as Open Space, World Cafe, Three Lens Conversation, etc. with real-time social media, such as VOIP, wikis, online collaborative tools and social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, or facebook.

Conference participants prepared for the conference through a Mind Map portal created especially for this event.

The 1/2 day conference was designed and organized by the RTVC Team, itself a self-organizing group of consultants and facilitators living in seven countries: Germany, S.Africa, Brazil, United Kingdom, Ontario, USA, and Canada – most of us have not yet met face-to-face.

Conference participants from 30 countries convened on Skype Chat for the opening plenary session, posting topics for break-out sessions on positive change. Break-out sessions were held on the a variety of social media chosen by conveners of the break-out sessions. Think of a sort of virtual, conference hotel. 
Over 50 participants from around the globe signed on to the opening session using Skype Chat. 
Opening and closing sessions were facilitated by members of the RTVC organization.

Reactions To The Conference Taken from the Closing Session Transcript







like riding a roller coaster
technically challenging


falling off the cliff 


crossing boundaries




just starting 

difficult connections


What’s next? 

calls for more 


Click on the RTVC Mind Map to see facts, key learnings, session topics and more. Note instructions on how to navigate the mind map in the lower right corner of the page.

To learn more about RTVC join us at the RTVC Forum on the Change Management Toolbook.
Click to see how countries were represented at the Conference.

Leadership in a Self-Organizing World

Leadership in a Self-Organizing World is going on right now, May 14-17, bringing together years of experiments, efforts, stories, wisdom, and questions about leadership practice — with conference results showing up in wiki notes, flickr photos, and twitter updates.

New Video: 1,800 Delegates in Open Space

Christine Whitney Sanchez, reporting from Phoenix, AZ:

You can now purchase a DVD of CONNECTED: Transforming the Conversation at the 2005 Girl Scout National Convention through the Open Space Institute-USA bookstore. Proceeds go to the Open Space Institute-USA.

Here’s the description…

CONNECTED: Transforming the Conversation at the 2005 Girl Scout National Convention Р16 minute DVD РEnglish. This high energy video tells the story of how a blend of Open Space Technology and World Caf̩ were used to bring member voices to the foreground at the 2005 Girl Scout National Convention. Open Space brought self-organization to 1,800 elected delegates and multi-generational Strategy Caf̩s brought conversations that matter to 3,000 girls and adults. Price: US$60 go to bookstore

OD World Summit – Budapest, Hungary

Eszter Korányi reports from Budapest that the OD World Summit is now offering Very Early Bird registration rates for the Summit on the 22nd-26th of August 2010 in Budapest, Hungary.

Fresh Views of Open Space

Found this picture and reflection by Geoff, in Australia, about his recent use of Space. And this, organizing a presentation in what looks just like open space, familiar to many of us, I’m sure. Then found links to a number of other friends. Have a scroll down through his latest. An exploration and encouragement of what works, very much in the spirit of Open Space.

Ideas into Action in Ontario’s Social Housing Sector

Earlier this year, Larry Peterson opened space for 150 on future of the Ontario Social Housing Sector, and shared this report:

We started with 150 from across the province with two days to be together. The planning committee of the sponsor struggled to decide – OST for 1.5 days then convergence or begin convergence on [the morning of] day 2. It was decided to go for 1 Day in OST to explore ideas and 1 day (in effect in OST) to explore action: Ideas to Action was the overall theme Eh? Shifting Gears beyond Survival was the theme in the OS question.

Great self-organizing discussions on Day 1 but the “breakthroughs” to a new sector paradigm were not there quite yet. The planning group wanted some sector priorities (the sponsor was not the sector, but a key coordination organization in it.) so we did that first thing on day 2, then Opened the Space again for more sector leadership to emerge and take ideas toward action strategies.

In morning news [beginning of Day 2] a brave soul finally stated what was real – the whole had not shifted to a new understanding yet. This was reinforced as we opened the space for action strategies. Not many action strategy sessions emerged, but those who cared were there and were ready to shift. The sessions all went to another level, with some leading the way – even talking about breaking the law to get new directions noticed.

The closing was a mutual love feast – sector leadership from various forms of social housing – co-op, non-profit, municipal, small town, big town now felt they were on the same page, ready to work together on some key change strategies with a sponsor who had decided to provide resources to some of the key efforts.

Great fun to hold such a space.

I’ve used something like this “serial Open Space” a number of times, including one 4-day session on peaceful development in Nepal, where we merged with Appreciative Inquiry practice. The four themes, on four consecutive days, were the 4-Ds of AI: Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver. In every case I can remember, it seems to work as Larry says. The sub-themes suggest a path, invite a direction. They’re never going to fit perfectly into the movement of the group, but then the group takes them by the horns and steers them to what fits. It’s just another dimension of ownership and responsibility and the crafting of the process by and for the people involved.

Education Technology and Self-Organization

Steve Hargadon is intrigued by what’s happening in ed-tech:

One element to these meetings that intrigues me, and which I’m still trying to quantify, is the ability for an engaged and devoted group to succeed in producing from their own experiences material and learning which not only meet what a single expert might bring, but often exceed traditional expertise. Darren Draper and I have been struggling to find a easy phrase for this, what he calls “Hargadon’s Law,” but which surely has been expressed somewhere else by someone more eloquent. It’s the literal equivalent of 1 + 1 = 3, which does not invalidate the value of an expert, but which demonstrates or draws out the wisdom of a group, showing it to be significantly more powerful than typically manifest in more traditional teaching environments. Again, arguably not founded on the technologies of the Web, but enhanced and focused, perhaps, by using them.

He has a long list of ideas (at the end of his post) for enhancing or supporting self-organization. Some I’d call kindred to (some are actually already embedded in) an open space approach. Others, like bringing people in by video or audio conferencing, might just get in the way. Generally, though, he’s got a broad inventory of where various sorts of new meetings are happening and a good list of suggestions for supporting self-organization.

Grassroots Collaboration, Integral and Open Space

Reporting from inside the EU Commission, Integral Yeshe points to three different grassroots sorts of things happening in open space and makes connections to the Integral story articulated by Ken Wilber and others…

I just found out about Transitions – a grass-roots model adopted to respond to the twin challenges of Peak Oil and Climate Change. I am particularly impressed that their website is a wiki. What first caught my attention was the fact that they used Open Space Technology to host their annual conference. Not coincidentally, from the same source, I learned of a gathering of cultural creatives to be held in France, also to be hosted in Open Space format.

Across the Atlantic, the Food and Society movement, sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation, also held its 2008 conference using Open Space – among other techniques gathered under the banner of the art of hosting meaningful conversations. This was a very big gathering (600+ participants), bringing together people from the whole spectrum of food and society – as the name suggests. Since some of my friends were involved in the design and facilitation of the event, I followed with some interest and was impressed by the depth and breadth of the insights that emerged from the collective alchemy as these participative processes metabolised and presenced the system present in the room.

She goes on to suggest that “These are just three examples of mushrooming grass-roots practices that I read as symptomatic of the integral, peer-to-peer age that is emerging on our planet today.” more

Extending Practice in Livable Neighborhoods

In her Livable Neighborhoods Project Patricia Mikkelson reports on her open space practice, in neighborhood and child care, informed by unschooling, non-violent communication…

For the past year I have envisioned an intergenerational community gathering which would bring people together in their neighborhood or town to have fun, food, conversations, and networking which would lead to people finding friends with which to collaborate with on the projects they are passionate about which better their community in some way. You can read more and see my slide show here

The first Community Gathering I held back in September was magnificent, and I saw the potential was huge. We had it at a pavilion at a park, and people enjoyed it immensely and lots of great connections were made. But then the weather got cold, and I could not find any indoor locations. This is the hardest thing about having an intergenerational gathering with lots of activities going on at once–finding a place that is inexpensive or free.

Today I got a second chance to coordinate a different kind of community gathering. I was asked to coordinate the child care at the Ozark Natural Foods Co-op Annual Owners Meeting. I had coordinated this 4 times previously, and although every time it was a success, I always felt like there was something missing. This time, I approached the event as if it were a community gathering–and it clicked! The missing ingredient was lots of people of all ages interacting, with everyone having fun. I wanted everyone involved to experience a sense of connection and even family–and my experience was that it happened. I brought into it some unschooling principles, non-violent communication and open space technology principles. Here’s what happened.

National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation

Mike Aaron of National Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation shares this about the upcoming conference:

Are you dedicated to solving tough problems through honest talk, quality thinking and collaborative action? Come join hundreds of others who believe that better communication is the key to solving many of the biggest problems facing our organizations, communities, and societies.

Join us October 3-5, 2008 in Austin, Texas for the fourth National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation: Creating Cultures of Collaboration. [Early registration through May 16th]

NCDD’s dynamic conferences bring together leaders and future leaders in public engagement, conflict resolution and related fields to share resources and strategies, build lasting relationships, increase the visibility and effectiveness of their work, tackle challenges we face, and initiate collaborative projects. Many people who have attended NCDD conferences say they’re the best conferences they’ve ever attended.

More details or

Be The Change

The author of the Change Management Toolbook, Holger Nauheimer is going to present his training course, Be The Change, in Boston, April 4-5, 2008 (with a half day free presentation on recent trends in Change Management on April 3, 2008). See the conference flyer and registration page.

Supernova 2007 Open Space

Kaliya Hamlin and friends are working in the world of network technology and making an important link between the Open Space and Unconferencing movements. Here’s a good invitation and example…

The Supernova Open Space Workshop is an open forum on the social, moral, technical, and strategic questions impacting the increasingly connected world in which we live. Discussions about topics like user control, neutrality, identity and open standards are setting the stage for future policies and economic decisions. Come to this event to learn more, participate in the community and shape the future of the New Network.

The workshop is being organized in conjunction with the Supernova 2007 conference (notably, sponsored by Wharton Business School), but is a distinct event, open to the entire community.

Go, Kaliya! Go!

Unconference Article in Business Week

Unconferencing is a recently emergent phenomenon that sometimes parallels Open Space and in other moments is deeply informed by it. Either way, it’s good to see Unconferencing written up in Business Week. It doesn’t mention Open Space by name, but the spirit of offering and inviting and self-organizing, so essential to Open Space, is there.

honoring Cheryl Honey’s work

Thank you Joelle Shelton for sharing this piece of inspiring news on the OSlist about Cheryl Honey, originator of Community Weaving, an approach to activating the gift economy for family and community vibrancy and resilience. This approach in part draws upon open space principles.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper and Microsoft Corp. honor five people, including an Antioch University Seattle graduate, who make a difference through community service.

Cheryl Honey, who received her B.A. degree in 2006, has been selected to receive a 2007 Jefferson Award for her 15 years spent weaving people together to create a support system for families. The program, named in honor of President Thomas Jefferson, was created nationally in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Sen. Robert Taft Jr. and economic-development expert Sam Beard. The founders’ vision was to create an award, similar to a Nobel Prize, for public and community service, with a special honor for local service “by ordinary people who do extraordinary things.”

The full story can be read in the online version of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Chira Humanitarian Research Institute

Evaluation Using Post-Its

Interesting reference to OST from New Zealand 2007:

I also don’t use ‘happy sheet’ evaluations but two post-its – on one they write what was ‘good’ and on the other what they want ‘more of’. One of the ‘goods’ was ‘responsive style, no set agenda – great’ much like the feedback I received from ACES when we used Open Space Technology on their LTA Co-ordinators Retreat.This open, facilitative approach is more risky but has much more meaning for the participants as it addresses their needs rather than our agenda. However, there are still some who just want to be given ‘the answer’ or ‘how to do it’ – a bit like students really!

Open Space and Unconferences


Opening Space as a process for identifying, surfacing and addressing thorny issues has been around for a long time … long, long before Winer offered up the term “unconference” … and is more robust and better thought through than what has been suggested as “unconferencing”. And there are other group processes that address the same or similar objectives that have also been around a lot longer … World Cafe, Conversation Cafe, Dynamic Facilitation, Appreciative Inquiry, Speed Geeking, The Fishbowl, Dialogue Circles and so on.

Open Source and Change through Improvisation

Open Space is mentioned in this post: Evolving Ideas: Open Source and Change through Improvisation which also says:

The image of organization built around improvisation is one in which variable inputs to self-organizing groups of actors induce continuing modification of work practices and ways of relating.

Change Management Events

Training: Holger Nauheimer, Peggy Holman and Gilbert Brenson-Lazan will offer their Introduction to Change Management, an International Change Management Training Event on April 19-20, 2007, at the Process Work Institute, Portland, Oregon. They will offer an introduction to different thinking styles in Change Management, the basic principles that apply to any complex change process, and practical applications on how to work with individuals, teams and organizations to master change.

Conference: Peggy Holman and more than ninety co-authors have announced a new, second edition of The Change Handbook, an astounding collection of short, practical explanations and examples of tools and methods for leading Change in large systems. They invite you to join many of the authors, a veritable who’s who of organization development, in Bowling Green, Ohio, March 22-23, at their Nexus for Change Conference. This promises to be an unprecedented gathering of practitioners, researchers, leaders, activists, and educators for participative change.

What Makes an Opening Open?

Sharon Quarrington shared this, via the OSLIST, on the Toronto Transit event previously reported here:

A group in Toronto held a “camp” for the Toronto Transit System – and
their opening is posted on YouTube:

I found it very interesting – how it was similar to and yet different it was from the OS openings I am most familiar with. I found I missed many of the “traditional” elements that were skipped – and yet wonder if perhaps that is just me being stuck in a rut!

I think not a rut at all. The “camp” and “unconference” movement and language is flourishing in the info tech world, which has embraced “open space”, but seems to have lost some of the “traditional” elements Sharon refers to. I, too, think something is lost without some of these elements, a certain elegance and ease in the opening process and story.

Opening can be easier than it sounds here, I think… and And AND… it obviously still worked. I’m glad to see opening practices seeping into the management of urban transit and other community institutions. I’m glad to see real work getting done with circles, invitations, marketplaces, and references to The Law of Two feet. I’m glad to see people making and sharing videos like this, that show real people practicing in this way. So props for opening practices and public sharing!

See (hear) also our podcasts archive for two (audio) recordings of more “traditional” openings by Chris Corrigan and Harrison Owen.

What do you think? What does it take to make an opening open?

Open Space, by any other name…

Thanks to Renee Bledsoe for a recent message…

My program Addiction Alchemy involves sacred circle ceremony and is based on Native American Medicine and Tree of Life technology and from what I’ve read so far is unknowingly tapping into Open Space!

…and for linking to us in some pretty good company.