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

Remembering Fr. Brian Bainbridge

Fr. Brian Bainbridge’s death caught so many of us by surprise. He was a great friend and teacher and student with OS practitioners around the world. He belongs on any short list of people responsible for making Open Space the global phenomenon that it has become. He travelled the world facilitating and teaching, learning and conferencing (he almost never missed the annual OSonOS) and then always returned home to life as a parish priest — where he really did practice what he preached about self-organization. Andrew Rixon and Kate Kneebone offered these reflective interviews with Brian. They’re published today to mark the second anniversary of his passing.

1. Brian a co-discoverer of Open Space Technology?
2. Brian’s scholarship at the international level
3. Opening Space with the world bank and becoming a parish priest
4. Reflections on his role within the Catholic church
5. Among other things, how Brian became a priest – there was no masterplan
6. Brian’s love of world travel and sabbaticals!

Andrew and Kate posted all six of these into a playlist on YouTube.

The Company of the Future

Harold Shinsato sent this to the OSLIST after last year’s Open Space on Open Space practitioners conference:

I’ve just finished uploading a 50 minute video of the highly interactive discussion held at the Berlin WOSonOS – “What is the company of the future?” which was convened by Deborah Maarek. I found it packed with really great experiential reports of how to build a company around a much more sustainable, participatory, and light weight model.

Berlin WOSonOS – Company of the Future from Harold Shinsato on Vimeo.

There is a place for interactive notes for the session here – I put the link to the video also in this site, in case you want to find the video in the future.

Haiti Partners Video

Our old friend John Engle sends this from Haiti:

We recently completed a 5-minute video where I talk about our purpose, philosophy and essential practices including ost. Here’s the link to those interested and who have time:

On the ground regular updates at

Forum Ouvert Liste Nouvelle, en Français

Luc Bizeul, en France, écrit:

Bonjour, j’ai le plaisir de vous inviter à rejoindre une liste de diffusion sur sur le forum ouvert; le but de cette liste est de permettre les discussions et les échanges en français autour de la pratique de l’ouverture, plus particulièrement au travers du Forum Ouvert, et de faciliter le développement de la communauté francophone.

Vous pouvez vous inscrire via l’interphase web : ou en envoyant un mail sur :

Le vous trouverez des nouvelles en Français sur le forum ouvert via le blog du RFFO (réseau francophone sur le forum ouvert) :

Being Ourselves Together

Recently, Doug Germann made a comment on the OSLIST, suggesting that after some few days in Open Space, people might begin to “internalize” the Four Principles and One Law. Harrison Owen offered an evocative reply:

Good wonderings, Doug. But I might suggest that you turn things around, or possibly upside down. Rather than internalizing The Law of Two Feet (and we might also add the 4 Principles), I suspect that it is more a matter of remembering what we already know and for one reason or another have chosen to repress. All of this goes with the idea that Open Space is truly not something new and radically different. In fact it is a forceful confrontation with a pre-existing condition.

We are already in Open Space by virtue of the fact that we have forever been in a self organizing world (the usual 13.7 billion years stuff). The Law and the Principles are descriptive of normative behavior in a self organizing world, and therefore Open Space, I think. In short, we do all of the above all the time — unfortunately we usually feel guilty about it, and because of this, we tend to do it/them badly, or at least awkwardly and grudgingly.

Thus with the Law: when faced with a nonproductive situation (no learning, no contribution) we always leave (hearts and mind out the window) — but the body remains feeling miserable, and making others miserable as well. Once we get the picture, things work better, and we feel a lot better. But it is not about doing something new, or internalizing some new truth — but rather remembering what we already knew and doing what we should/could have been doing in the first place.

Why bother with all this? Well if nothing else, I think it makes our job as consultants and facilitators a lot easier. First of all we are not inviting our clients to engage in risky behavior. Quite the opposite, we are opening a space in which they can really be themselves. And the real risk is to continue with the non-productive, guilt inducing, dependant behavior. The old Marxist Battle Cry might have some application here (with modification): People of the World Unite — You have nothing to lose but your chains.” In a word — Be yourself.

(…which points to another dimension of the both/and nature of Open Space: People can be united and unique, at the same time. The “marketplace” we make for “individual” passions, skills, interests, responsibility — and initiatives — is its own sort of “united” collective. In this way, the realization of Open Space can begin to erode traditional political and idealogical fault lines, in largely peaceful and powerfully practical ways.)

Devoted and Disgruntled 5

Phelim McDermott reported recently…

It’s amazing but it is now five years since I first dived into Open Space after reading Harrison’s book. At that time I had never been to an open space event had no idea what it looked like but knew it in my bones.Since then we have done Devoted and Disgruntled 5 times and done one in Scotland, one Brazil, one in in NYC and one in Newcastle will be doing another one In Newcastle in the coming months. Been asked to set one up in LA etc.. its become a growing community of people who are devoted to theatre and want to use the fuel of their disgruntlement to change.

I remember that the thing that really inspired me to read the book in the first place was Harrison’s intro saying OS belonged to everyone and would never be certified/owned/contained etc we should all just do it. It reminded me of my own feelings about Impro and its relationship to the many attempts to categories, teach, quantify it. In the end Impro just was and would appear where it wanted. It also reminded me of Robert Le Page’s advice to “Mummenchance” theatre that they must “Give away the recipe.” He was referring specifically to the recipe for their squidgy changing putty like masks. But he meant this as a wider metaphor to look after our own creativity. We must gift the recipe not guard it.

In this spirit here’s our fifth annual report on the state of people who are passionate and responsible about theatre. The event is an annual 2.5 event on third day we reopen the space for whatever people want to still talk about and do.

So here’s the report and here’s a visual representation done from the report by wordle which i love. It’s a big theatre word sitting in a nexus of other issues! I think it gives a better feeling representation of the event than the report.

Open Space on Open Space – San Francisco

What are the possibilities of Open Space in our lives, organizations and communities? What capacities and tools do we need, to move to the next level with this work? Let’s gather and learn from one another. Jeff Aitken, Kaliya Hamlin, Lisa Heft and Heidi Nobantu Saul invite you to…

OSonOS 2010

Open Space on Open Space

January 15-17, 2010

in San Francisco, California, USA

complete details

Several days in and about Open Space — where the newly trained and the longtime practitioners will share our excitement, encouragement, trials and errors — and explore how we use this remarkable organizational and community-building process, on its own or with other tools and methods.

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.

Gathering: Leadership in a Self-Organizing World

Please join us in May, 2009, for Leadership in a Self-organizing World

Many of us have been experimenting with new forms of organizing and leading for years and decades. Others are seeking new ways as the old practices are insufficient to the challenges they are facing. It’s time for us to gather to bring together our experiments, efforts, stories, wisdom, and questions.

We are convening at the beautiful Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, nestled in the Cascade foothills outside Leavenworth, Washington, about 2 hours from Seattle.

Harrison Owen, creator of Open Space Technology, will be joining us and launching his book Wave Rider: Leadership for High Performance in a Self Organizing World.

Harrison uses the term “wave rider” to describe the kind of leadership and organizational/community capacity needed to survive and thrive. We will spend our time together pooling our collective learning about what “wave riding” is really looking like, uncovering what our pioneering efforts are showing us and deciding what’s next.

An incredible cohort of learners, practitioners and pioneers are gathering to be part of this inquiry! Already involved and planning to attend are: Peggy Holman; Joel Levey; Tracy Patterson; Joshua Heim; Catherine Crim; Candi Foon; Mark Jones; Jan Gray; Christy Lee-Engel; Susan Partnow; Sono Hashisaki; Teresa Posakony; Anne Stadler; Dale Nienow; Paul Gleiberman; Steven Wright; Jun Akutsu; John Engle; Grace Chien; Gabriel Shirley; Tracy Robinson; Sue McNab; Iris Lemmer; Jerilyn Brusseau.

We hope YOU will be part of this too!

Register now, mark your calendar, and invite all your friends! For more information, visit

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.

“Circles of Change” Video – en Français

John Engle and friends in Haiti have announced a downloadable version of “Circles of Change: a quiet revolution in Haiti” video with French subtitles.

He sez…

It’s 19 minutes long and in very good resolution. It’s a large file (1,100 mb) and will require some time to download even with a high-speed internet connection. We have many DVD’s of English subtitle version and have also distributed in Haiti many of the Haitian-Creole version, which has no subtitles.

We’ve received a number of requests in recent months for this French version and we’re delighted to make it available in downloadable form. Perhaps you know of individuals and/or organizations in French speaking Canada or French speaking African countries who might appreciate viewing this. Please feel free to share the download link with anyone who might be interested.

Let me know if you have problems downloading, have questions, or if you would like to receive a DVD of this version.

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!

Elegant Code in Open Space

Scott Schimanski announced an Elegant Code Open Spaces Session back in May, but looks like there will be more of these:

Elegant code is hosting an Open Spaces session. An Open Spaces session is a discussion where the attendees generate the topics. There will be no presentation, no lecture, no Powerpoint slides, etc. The main point of this is a discussion were all can grow and learn from each other. We plan on holding these once a quarter.

The topics for discussion will be created by the group. The discussion will be facilitated, but just to keep the conversation going, not to drive it in any direction.

The first one will be held on June 3rd, at the Casa Mexico Restaurant in the Hyde Park section of Boise. They offer beer and wine in addition to the great “South of the Border” food. Details

Maybe we can get a report on what happened — and when the next one will be.

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.

I Came, I Saw, I Can Do For Myself

One of the best things about operating in Open Space is the transparency of the whole process, which supports immediate repetition and replication, as PhatBoyG reports…

After a great weekend in Seattle for the ALT.NET Open Spaces event, the two coworkers and I discussed how we could bring the experience of Open Spaces back to the team in Tulsa. We decided that instead of just giving a few talks about some of the things we took away from Seattle, we would bring the experience itself to the team.

At the end of our team meeting on Monday, we laid out some paper and pens and asked members of the team to write up topics that they wanted to discuss. It started a bit slow, but within minutes we had eighteen topics on the wall. The variety of topics was excellent, most of which targeted a different subset of the team. It was great to see the team come up with such a nice list of things for the team to discuss. more…

After 20+ years of experimenting in Open Space, we *know* we can produce great meetings, but this potential for the *practice* to spread like this is what keeps OST and a lot of us practitioners going.

After the Open Space

Jack Martin Leith, Bristol UK, shares this post on what to do after Opening Space. How to keep all those projects going?

When planning your Open Space meeting, you’ll need to think about how you’ll ensure that ideas emerging from the meeting will be brought to fruition, and how the issues identified by participants will be resolved effectively once everyone is back at their workplace. Please be fully aware that this is a very big challenge. More…

It’s a great and detailed post. And Jack’s always got great diagrams to go with the explanations.

Whatever happens…

John Engle began a lively discussion of the “Whatever happens in the only thing that could have” principle in late April on the OSlist. And it is continuing! Here is how it all began:

I know that some have been through this hundreds of times but I’m wanting to get the most recent reflections on the principle:

Whatever happens is the only thing that could’ve.

My colleagues in Haiti and I continue to have smart people from a variety of cultures let us know that this principle doesn’t sit well with them.

It communicates fatalism to some instead of encouraging responsibility. While i’m totally comfortable with the principle, if enough people tell me that it communicates something to them that is different than what i’m trying to communicate, there’s a problem.

For me, what’s worse is that often times people remember it as: “What happens is that which is supposed to happen” or “There’s a reason for everything that happens.” This can have us sounding like Christian fundamentalist.

We’ve been experimenting in Haitian Creole and in English with this:

What Happens is what happens – learn and move forward.

Join the conversation on OSlist!

Believing in Open Space

Gerard Muller shared this a while back on the OSLIST, notes from a session at the OSonOS practitioner conference he hosted earlier this year:

Issue: Beliefs: What beliefs are important to attract OST clients? What beliefs do the organizations need for successfull OST? What are important beliefs for good OST Facilitators?

We attract our experience based on beliefs held especially at the subconscious mind. It is important to consider what limiting beliefs or fears we have in doing and attracting OST and then create new empowering beliefs of what we want instead. These new beliefs attract a new reality/experience.

Some Beliefs:
I am open enough to hold space.
I have the energy I need to facilitate.
I have the courage to say no when the conditions are not right for OST.
I know when the conditions are right for OST.
I believe that groups find the energy to come to action.
I easily communicate the principles of OST & they get it.
I attract people that live the principles of OST.
I trust the process of OST and it works for me.
I am open to the outcome in OST.
OST always works and I trust it.
I create the space for people to be engaged and responsible when I
I know how to invite and I attract the right people that are needed.
When I make mistakes, I open the space for myself and others to learn.
I believe in the responsibility of all the people involved.
Wisdom leads to harmony.
The wisdom is always in the room.
I am Open Space.
I hold the attitude and essence of Open Space.

“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?

Four Principles and a Law

Here’s a point of view from Renaissance Woman:

While Open Space is a concept applied to the corporate world, its four key principles and one law are certainly philosophies that you can live your life by

great first post

Looks like the Kiwanis Club of South East Cleveland is off to a great start with their new blog!

here we go!

This is the first post of the new blogsite of the members of the Kiwanis Club of South East Cleveland. Every member has the privilege of sharing publishing rights on this blog. This blog will be self-organizing in the best traditions of open-space technology. I will not presume to have the standing to lecture any of my fellow Kiwanis members on deportment or blog conduct. You know the drill; the same rules of civility and gentility apply here as in our club.