Connect Your Meetings Article

Connect Your Meetings recently published an online article entitled “Open Space Meetings” with the tag line: Sometimes risky, the unscripted format is popular, productive and powerful. OST veteran facilitators Christine Whitney Sanchez, Lisa Heft, and Chris Corrigan all quoted.

An Open Space Learning Community

Anne Stadler posted this bit in a comment a little while back. It deserves more attention than that! So here you go…

This is a link to an article about spirited work a seven year experiment in an open space learning community of practice.
“Self-Organizing Systems – Self-Organizing? Emergent Community”
— The Spirited Work Learning Community: 1999 – 2005 —
(Living in Open Space)
by Anne M. Stadler © 2009

Thought Open Spacers might be interested in this article!!! Would love to engage you in dialogue about the learnings reported here.
Here is the link to the production site where the article is now public.

User’s Guide Translated into Russian


Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide, by Harrison Owen, is the “bible” of Open Space practice. Now it’s available in Russian.

Elena Marchuk translated it in Novosibirsk and then it was co-edited in three cities over email and skype by Marina Tyasto (Novosibirsk), Ludmila Ivanova, and Raffi Aftandelian (San Diego).

To get your copy, AND For Russians they can send books with ‘nalojennym platejom’ or you can wire your money for bank account, which they will provide you. For out-Russia friends they have ‘rouble’-account, ‘dollar’-account, and ‘euro’-account. So they are ready to supply you with a book no matter where you are or what kind of money you have.

Wave Rider: Now Available in the Bookstore

Wave Rider: Leadership for High Performance in a Self-Organizing World, the newest offering by OST originator Harrison Owen, is now in our bookstore. In Wave Rider, Harrison shows how to apply the fundamental principles of self-organization – the driving power behind OST’s immense success – not just to a single event but to the day-to-day management and leadership of organizations. It’s published by Berrett-Koehler, in paperback, 246 pages. List price is $24.95 and our bookstore price is $20, plus shipping.

Your order can be shipped within USA or shipped internationally.

Dare we say, the perfect gift for all of the leaders and change agents, consultants and facilitators on your holiday giving list!

The Tao of Holding Space


Chris Corrigan has posted his version of the Tao te Ching at the same Internet Archive where Raffi Aftandelian recently posted his Living Peace ebook. Chris’ book, The Tao of Holding Space, relates specifically to facilitating Open Space Technology meetings but slightly more universal that that too. Both are free for sharing.

Living Peace: The Open Space of Our Lives

Late last year, Raffi Aftandelian extended an invitation to Open Space practitioners around the world to write a response to the question: What is your personal practice of open space?

Contributors from Canada, India, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, United States, Sweden, and China (Hong Kong) responded. Raffi has edited in all together into an e-book called Living Peace: The Open Space of Our Lives, and posted it for browsing and downloading.

Thanks and congratulations on this, Raffi! And to everyone else, enjoy!

New in the Bookstore

Harrison Owen’s Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide is now in its 3rd edition and is now in the bookstore. It sells there at a discount to list price and your purchase goes to support the work of the Open Space Institute USA.

Also in new… John Engle has added a Spanish version of Circles of Change: a quiet revolution in Haiti, the DVD about his in grassroots movement that is transforming notions and practices in education and leadership in Haiti and beyond. See the Videos section of the bookstore.

Go direct to ordering, from USA or Another Country.

Training Executive Exchange: An Interview with Harrison Owen

Do you long for wide open spaces? Want to get some real work done?

Forget meetings. Throw out the agendas prepared in lengthy meetings that are never followed. Scrap the PowerPoints and flowcharts and make your next meeting an “un-meeting” with open space technology.

That’s the advice of Harrison Owen, the originator of “open space technology” and the author of Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 3rd Edition, Spring 2008).

Owen, along with 85 other “brave” souls, originated the open space concept back in 1985 at the Third Annual International Symposium on Organization Transformation, held in Monterey, Calif. When participants arrived at the event, the only things they knew were when it would start, when it would end and what the general theme of the conference might be. There was no agenda and no planning committee, and the only facilitator in evidence disappeared after several hours.

The 85 participants sat in a circle. As each person determined that he had some area of exploration he would like to pursue, he wrote a brief description on a small placard, announced his topic to the group, posted the placard on the wall and sat down. When no further topics were posted, the original proposers determined the time and place for meeting, and anybody interested in a particular topic signed up. That was it. Two-and-a-half hours later, an agenda for a three-day event had been completely planned, including multiple workshops — all with conveners, times, places and participants.

The result? Excellence, profound accomplishment, and breakthrough learning, according to Owen and thousands of others, who have been facilitating open space gatherings at conferences and within organizations for 23 years. To date, Open Space has been used in excess of 100,000 times in 134 countries.

The actual process has changed little, if at all, over the years. However the necessary “start-up” time has fallen to somewhere between and hour and an hour and a half, even with groups of 2000 and more.

Training Executive Exchange recently spoke to him about how open space can be put to work by trainers and managers within their own organizations – either as an alternative to meetings or as an alternative to training itself… Read More (from the OSLIST)

Article Published in Meetings Magazine

From Diane Gibeault in Ottawa:

This article on OST was recently published by the Meetings & Incentive Travel magazine. It that may be useful to support our explanations of Open Space.

They quoted Harrison Owen, Larry Peterson, Michelle Cooper and myself. In my opinion, they captured essential points and reflected pretty well what OST is about. …but I may be biased. Click here to see.

Meetings & Incentive Travel, a division of Rogers Publishing Limited, has been Canada’s leader in the meeting and incentive travel industry for over thirty years. M&IT magazine, M&IT-e, meetCanada, IncentiveWorks, and the CMC directory specifically target professionals in Canada who plan and organize meetings, conferences, conventions, expositions, special events or incentive programs.

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.

“Becoming me,” an open space practice video?

Marty Boroson has developed a video companion to his book, Becoming Me, inspired in part by open space. Acclaimed by spiritual leaders of different faiths, the clip has been posted to YouTube. Becoming Me is a simple, daring, and moving story of your/my creation.

This resource might be considered as another video to inspire one’s open space practice. An addition, perhaps, to this collection?

Improbable Open Space

Phelim McDermott, of Improbable (theatre company) in London updates his previous story…

Things have been busy at Improbable. Here is an Article in the
about our now seemingly annual open space event for theatre.

Stay tuned for Improbably Open Space, the movie.

Travailler En Forum Ouvert: Petite Visite Guideé

Travailler en Forum Ouvert: Petite Visite Guideé, une observation d’une réunion hypothétique en Forum Ouvert, illustrant les conditions et les possibilités de ce genre de réunions, réalisée par Michael Herman, transduction nouveau par Esther Matte. Plus de Forum Ouvert en français…

happiness at work

Alexander Kjerulf reviewed Harrison Owen’s Open Space Technology back in 2003 and just included it in his list of books about happiness at work. He calls OST:

the most insanely efficient and fun meeting form I have ever tried.

The Tao of Holding Space: an e-book

Chris Corrigan offers the heart of years of practicing and listening and living in Open Space, in the form of a book he has written that expresses the wisdom of the Taoist classic, the Tao Te Ching, in the language and sensibility of Open Space.

In some ways this book chronicles the essence of my own emergent practice of Open Space. In looking over it one more time, I realized that almost everything I know about Open Space is somehow distilled into these chapters.

Using a Creative Commons license, Chris is making this loving gift of deep insight freely available for download, here.

OST in the news

Kaliya Hamlin posts a great article on the Mashupcamp 2 Open Space recently in the San Fransico, USA area. Included in the article, on the front page of the San Jose Mercury business section, is the above photo, probably the first ever example of hand drawn OST principles in a business section.

Two updated offerings from Michael Herman

Michael Herman, who has provided lots of resources to the Open Space community over the years, has just released two updated offerings:

Open Space Technology: Inviting Leadership Practice – reviews the basics of Open Space, considers its evolution, and points to its dissolving into the ongoing practice of Inviting Leadership.

Open Space Technology: An Inviting Guide
– a short guide for Inviting Leaders, with new meeting/event planning worksheet and notes on sustaining action after the big meeting.

What a nice thing to do a week before he gets married!

(Congrats Michael, from the whole posting team!)

Whither British Drama? OST leads the way

Writer-director of the established British theater, Improbable, Phelim McDermott, is one of the latest people to join the OS discussion list.

Improbable organized a 200 person OST event in London on the topic of the current situation in British drama.

Of course, as many others who stumble upon OST, Phelim notes that he worked in open space long before he worked with the method.

Two articles in London’s Guardian and Observer describe this recent application of OST.

Reading about Improbable’s principles is also intriguing.

The original invitation for the two day OST event, DEVOTED AND DISGRUNTLED: What are we going to do about theatre?, was also posted to the OS list.

Improbable has graciously posted the proceedings from the two day event on their website.

Thank you for the story, Phelim!

What is Open Space Technology?

…and how can anyone use it to address crisis situations? Doug Germann and I are beginning to draft a “guide” for use in such situations. Something short and sweet, light enough to stick in a backpack and useful enough help in New Orleans or Indonesia, and wherever the next big bumps show up. This description of OS emerged from that work:

Open Space Technology is a method of organizing meetings (immediately) and leading movements (longer term) so that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things, in record time. This simple and powerful approach will help you:

1. Organize a meeting of 5-500 (or more!) people, to quickly, cheaply and effectively address any issue or situation of real importance or immediate concern.

2. Focus on the issues and opportunities that are most important, the assets and resources already on hand (even if they are few), and the people who can and must be involved in any successful outcome(s) or resolution(s).

3. Support the movement and connection of people, information, resources and ideas that are related or required by the main issue or situation — to create (or renew) a genuine sense of community and collaboration.

4. Identify and execute responsible, informed and immediate next steps, in many directions, on many levels, and by many different kinds of people, all at once — and to sustain this sort of action as long as is needed to address or resolve the issue or situation.

Open Space Technology will not help you take or maintain control of people, pacify the masses with the illusions of participation, or work very well when you already know what needs to be done and how to do it.

If, however, you find yourself in a situation that is overwhelming (or nearly so) in its complexity of tasks, diversity of people and needs, importance and potential for conflict, and undeniable urgency, then it is likely the best possible way to bring people together, focus on what matters, make essential connections, and do what must be done.

If you have ideas or suggestions about what should go into such a “crisis” guide to Open Space, please email me.

A Collection of Papers about OS

Lisa Heft is a valuable member of the Open Space learning community. In addition to working with business leaders, faith communities, peacemakers, young people, violence survivors, educators, scientists, prisoners, union and management representatives, conference organizers, researchers, activists and government representatives, she also maintains a website which provides a plethora of resources about Open Space and other related topics. Below are some papers that she has compiled from conversations in the OSLIST archive.

Download the User’s NON-Guide

Chris Corrigan reminds us of a resource that grew when

…in 2001, 37 practitioners unwittingly contributed to an astounding conversation on the OSLIST that begged to be made into a book. And so, in January of 2002, Michael Herman and I edited the conversation into Open Space Technology: A User’s NON-Guide, which is a collection of voices all musing on the Spirit of OST. It won’t tell you how to do one, but it talks alot about why it works.

For your copy as a .pdf, download it here

Download Harrison Owen’s Books

Harrison Owen, originator and author-in-chief of the Open Space approach, recently announced…

Every now and again, I receive requests for my earlier books, all of which are now out of print. I suppose there are collectors of antiques of all sorts, and those books probably qualify. However, if you are interested in the journey of Open Space, or at least my part in that journey, I suppose these books could be helpful and for those of you interested in a little ancient history (some of which might be quite contemporary).

…and made available for download the PDF copies of the original versions of many of his books.