Collected Videos

Thanks to Peggy Holman and Tom Atlee for these videos of and about open space…

Descriptions of Open Space

Depictions of Open Space

For fun: A video about an open space in Beijing, in Chinese

and its use in Haiti

and in Russia

and India

Pictures and Posters

Thanks to Doug Caldwell for the following pictures and posters…

“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.

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.

WOSonOS XVI events underway

While tomorrow is the official start of World Open Space on Open Space XVI, conference events are well underway.

The week started with an extremely well-attended (40+ participants) two day Open Space Technology learning workshop led by Lisa Heft. People from Uganda, Russia, Spain (Basque country), South Korea, the Netherlands, UK, and other countries attended the workshop.

Tuesday evening Harrison Owen presented the third edition (expanded and updated) of Open Space Technology: a User’s Guide. Harrison encouraged the approximately 100 attendees to dive in to the wine and crackers after a short talk about Open Space, self-organization, and his upcoming book, Wave Rider: Leadership for High Performance in a Self-organizing World. It was a delightful meeting of new and old friends of Open Space.

This evening, Wednesday, was an informal gathering also held at the historic Fort Mason site. This was the traditional pre-conference informal gathering. More wine, a delicious dinner, and extremely rich conversation.

Lisa Heft gives a taste of the whole WOSonOS experience thus far on the OSlist.

More reporting from the conference forthcoming!

Look at OSonOS in Haiti

John Engle sends pictures from the 7th annual OSonOS in Haiti.

There were about 80 participants. Mostly were Haitians coming from towns and villages from around the country, plus eleven from Dominican Republic and several from the US. Great meeting! Lots of synergy as usual and plans for trainings, conferences, exchanges, etc.

Way to go, Haiti!

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

Microsoft in Open Space

Most Valuable Invitation at Microsoft:

Techie is proud to have been invited to this year’s Microsoft MVP Global Summit 2008 at at the Washington State Trade and Convention Center in Seattle and at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

What is the MVP Global Summit?
The MVP Global Summit is a four-day invitation-only event hosted at the Washington State Trade and Convention Center in Seattle and at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington. With more than 400 sessions and a variety of networking opportunities, the MVP Global Summit enables Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) and Regional Directors (RDs) to:

Connect with other MVPs and RDs
Engage with Microsoft product managers
Provide valuable feedback directly to Microsoft on its products and technologies.

Highlights for 2008 include:
Event closing technical discussion by Ray Ozzie, Microsoft chief software architect
Keynote by Steve Ballmer, Microsoft chief executive officer
Deep technical sessions by competency
Cross-competency electives
Highly dynamic and interactive sessions, designed based on Open Space Technology, where you’ll be able to define topics, attend, or even host
Additional activities designed to promote networking and meet attendees’ diverse informational and business needs

UPDATE: Harrison Owen posted this today to the OSLIST… looks like another Microsoft open space:

Seems like the folks at the annual Microsoft Professional Development Conference are intending to open a little space. Definitely cutting edge, innovative – Cheers for Microsoft. For the details. Don’t have any idea who is doing it, but I am sure they will have a grand time.

I especially like this bit from a Microsoft blog:

Not only are we doing Open Space at PDC 2008, we want to make sure it is a _real_ Open Space. None of this “Microsoft doesn’t understand, they don’t grok it, they entirely and utterly butchered the whole Open Space concept”.

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.

Holy Grail of Open Space Discovered in Romania

Open Space Romania was a pleasant surprise today. There is a record (in english) of open space events in Romania and a photo-album. Thanks to Janina-Diana Pasaniuc in Oradea, Transilvania, Romania, for pointing to the (new?) site and for her discovery of the Holy Grail of Open Space.

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.

A True Butterfly

Esther Matte reports a recent Butterfly sighting:

In a recent OS event, I noted one person stayed back when everyone went to the Market Place wall. This person was just sitting on her chair, playing with the papers in her participant’s kit. Eventually, she got up and moved around. But she didn’t participate to any discussion, even though people invited her to join them.

At the time, I thought she was uncomfortable in this space, that it was simply too open for her to work in. I often saw her reading reports coming up on the Breaking News Wall. In the closing circle, to my surprise, her comment was something like: “I had a great day. Lots of participation, lots of open and frank discussions. Thank you everyone!”

I guess we should never assume anything! Taking care of herself, this person stayed close without joining discussions. She found her space and connected in her own way. She was a true butterfly.

In Open Space, The Law of Two Feet says that only you know when you are learning and contributing as much as you can. So you are in charge of that. Use your two feet, or whatever else you normally use to get around, to go wherever you need to go, move to any conversation or space where you can maximize your learning and contribution. When the rule is applied in practice, performance is maximized by two sorts of characters: Bumblebees buzz from group to group, carrying energy and information, cross-pollinating. Butterflies float around, and may not join any group, but their flitting and fluttering directly supports a state of openness and flow.

Open Space in Korea

Stanley Park announces the new Korean Open Space website and adds:

For many of you who find Hangeul (Korean language) rather uncomfortable, please just enjoy viewing two videos of OS events here and here. When the site becomes fully in operation, it will have a section in upper right that serve our friends whose language is not Korean.

I can’t read Korean, but it sure looks like Open Space to me!

Lernforum Großgruppenarbeit 27./28. Januar 2008 Oberursel

Das Lernforum ist unter Großgruppen – Facilitators längst kein Geheimtipp mehr.

Wie jedes Jahr lud all-in-one- spirit zum Netzwerktreffen ein – und es kamen 160 externe und interne Berater. Seit seinem Bestehen steht dieses Treffen unter dem Motto “come from abundance”.

Als langjähriger Visueller Begleiter dieses Forums war es diesmal für mich ein besonders tiefes emotionales Erlebnis. Es war ein Genuß, mit welcher Heiterkeit und Klarheit Dr. Matthias zur Bonsen den Open Space anleitete.

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)

Parishes losing priests and then what?

Fr. Brian Bainbridge sends this from Melbourne, Australia:

Some 7 parish reps (16 persons) in Open Space Sessions, Looking together (a major miracle, perhaps) at what to do LOCALLY about adjusting to the imminent reduction in numbers of priests available in their zone/region. Some came to fight/defend against the future (inevitable) changes. Others with different agenda. By the end of the day – another major miracle – all seemed together about options to address this eventuality.

Next Meeting – “Action Planning” to decide steps forward and plot the taking of those steps.

There have been a series of such attempts, but never using Open Space. It’s a wonderfully potent situation and may just change the nature of the Church in Australia. Stand by for the next extraordinarily exciting development.

Questions about Open Space in Churches or Australia? Email Brian

French Executives Talk About Open Space

This is to let you know that 5 french executives will exchange on their OS practices in Paris on April 3rd. If you happen to be in Paris then you are invited and welcome. You will find hereunder the details of the event and how to confirm your participation. Contact Philippe SLIOUSSARENKO for complete details.

MHG Europe a le plaisir de vous inviter à la réunion sur le thème :


Une démarche de conduite de réunion en petit ou grand groupe ou une nouvelle façon de s’organiser et de penser ?

Avec la participation de dirigeants ayant pratiqué l’Open Space :

§ M. Sylvain AUGERE, Directeur de l’Animation des Réseaux de Formation, UIMM
§ M. Emmanuel CAUX, Directeur Général Région France Nord, STARWOOD HOTELS AND RESORTS
§ M. Hervé MARTIN, Directeur Général, SENSITIVE OBJECT
§ M. Emmanuel MASSY, Directeur Marché Gares, GROUPE ELIOR

Nous poursuivrons ensuite nos échanges autour d’un cocktail dînatoire. Dans l’attente de vous recevoir, je vous adresse mes plus sincères
salutations. — Philippe SLIOUSSARENKO

Opening in Tehran: The Future of Radio in Iran

Singapore-based Prabu Naidu shared this recently after Opening Space in Tehran:

On 4th February 2008 some forty producers and managers from the radio division of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) converged in one of the studios that was the venue of an Open Space Technology (OST) session to discuss on the theme “Radio Management in Iran”.

The participants who came to the session – based on open invitations announced on banners throughout the studios – had a desire to contribute to the future of Radio in Iran, they came, enjoyed the collegial networking and contributed ideas and thoughts.

The Open Space was facilitated by me. The event was co-sponsored by the Freidrich Ebert Stiftung and IRIB.

In the full day session, six concurrent market place discussions were held over two time slots of one hour each. There was deep conversations and many ideas generated on the theme. During the action planning; six key ideas were voted to be worked on next and six leaders accepted the responsibility to take the ideas to the next step.

The next day on 5th February 2008, a smaller group of ten participants in the morning and another ten in the afternoon attended a training session on Open Space so that they will be equipped to conduct Open Space sessions on their own in the future. These participants had also attended the full day session the day before. The participants intend to use Open Space to engage their own staff as well as their listeners in improving their programmes and services.

The two-day proceedings were beamed live on the Internet for IRIB staff outside Tehran to follow.

Prabu was part of the hosting team when I taught Open Space in Sinagapore some years ago. And this, to me, is the most amazing thing about the practice of Open Space. We never really know where it will lead, or turn up, next. Good to see such fruits still ripening, many years beyond the first plantings. Way to go, Prabu! And may the Iranian harvest be bountiful, as well!

First Open Space held by mainland Chinese organization

Thanks (and congrats!) to Joern Geisselmann, Adviser for Public Participation & Capacity Building at Shining Stone Community Action, for this report from mainland China:

On May 15th Shining Stone Community Action (SSCA), a Beijing-based NGO promoting participatory urban governance, conducted what was perhaps the first Open Space event organized and facilitated by a mainland Chinese organization entirely on its own. SSCA decided to include a one-day Open Space into one of its training courses on participatory community development following a training on the Open Space methodology in April 2007 by Stiftung Mitarbeit, a German foundation dedicated to the promotion of public participation, and CANGO (China Association for NGO Cooperation).

The theme of the event was “Public Participation in Community Development”. Participants included community workers, NGO representatives, and residents. Since Open Space is so different from typical Chinese meetings that tend to be very formal and hampered by hierarchies we were worried at first how participants would respond to the unusual latitude given to them. However, this concern vanished quickly as participants began taking the initiative proposing topics they wanted to discuss. The enthusiasm and resourcefulness of participants continued to astonish us throughout the event and Open Space turned out to be the highlight of the 3-day training. In fact, about a week later a participant informed us that they had enjoyed Open Space so much that they had already conducted a community meeting using some of the Open Space elements.

For more information, please contact Ms. Song Qinghua, Director of Shining Stone Community Action.

The Nitty Gritty Detail of Mass Collaboration

Christopher Carfi posted a nice summary of work done in a breakout session in Open Space last year, following the Consortium for Service Innovation Annual Summit in Orlando.

His summary is about the work, not the process. And that’s the point. Real work gets done in Open Space — and becomes the center story of the event. I wonder how many other participants went out posted their notes.

His posting represents the kind of “action” that keeps real work moving, based on personal passion and responsibility, but never shows up on the screen when people ask, “How does action happen?”

This group should know something about getting things done. The conference sub-theme: the economics and social elements of mass collaboration.

an elevator speech

Harrison shared the following today on OSlist:

Every now and again we seem to get ourselves involved here on OSLIST in
creating and comparing “elevator speeches” about Open Space. I have never been very good at all that, but a young Korean friend caught me early in the
morning on the shuttle to the airport. Given the hour I wasn’t sure how it
would all turn out, but I guess it is a good picture of The Hat. And for
sure it is the shortest speech I have ever given. If interested, check out

Media Fighting Stereotypes

Jost Wagner is a Thailand-based German facilitator and consultant working in the Asian region and beyond primarily working on development issues. He sent this news and video from Bangkok:

Media fighting stereotypes – a short Open Space Session in a unique environment.

In September 2007 the German Friedrich-Ebert Foundation (FES) organised an Open Space Session during the Asia-Pacific and Europe Media Dialogue taking place in Germany and jointly organised by Deutsche Welle and Asia-Broadcasting in order to create a dialogue about the role of media – especially TV and Radio – can play in fighting stereoytpes and discrimination. Participants were senior members of broadcasting authorities and broadcasters from Asia and Europe and many other invited guests from politics, industry and civil society. The Session took place in the former German parliament in Bonn – a very unique and challenging environment. The Open Space was facilitated by Janice Lua from Singapore and Jost Wagner – a Thailand-based German facilitator. FES sponsored also a production of a short and nice video.

The space looks a bit unusual, but clearly the spirit of this event was completely Open Space. That you can hear in the many participant comments in the video. Nice work, Jost and Janice!

Opening in Two Languages at Once

Deborah Hartmann and Esther Matte worked together to open the RoCoCo camp event recently in Montreal. They did that in French and in English, taking things paragraph-by-paragraph, repeating everything in two languages. Then they came to the OSLIST to talk about how others do it. Harrison Owen offered an elegant approach…

When Michael Pannwitz and I did the Open Space for 2000 in Wurtzburg, Germany — we did everything all at once. The situation may have been a little different as most people spoke German and some English. Also in the plenary session (Opening) we had simultaneous translation. But in any event we did a duo. At the start Michael went one way in the circle, I went the other — and after we crossed at the starting point, we just wandered all over, everywhere. When we started I announced that Michael was not going to translate, rather he would do his thing, I would do mine, and hopefully we would end at the same place, which I think we did. It took a little longer, but we also had a lot of fun doing it together. The best part was Michael’s comments on what I had to say. One time after a rather lengthy discourse on my part (maybe 30 sec.) Michal came in with just a single word. Everybody howled. Wonderful!