Open Space Meetings

open space meetings are a way of taking any group and any topic and facilitating dialogue where everyone's opinion is heard

the agenda for the meeting is not pre-determined, but is set by the participants, at the meeting, so the ideas and conversations that people are passionate about flourish.

open space meetings can quickly,  bring together people with common interests, give a voice to the unheard or disempowered, and are a living example of true equality in action.

This is how they work.......................

At the beginning of an Open Space Meeting the participants sit in a circle, or in concentric circles for large groups (300 to 2000 people and more).

The facilitator will greet the people and briefly re-state the theme of their gathering, without giving a lengthy speech.

Then someone will invite all participants to identify any issue or opportunity related to the theme. Participants willing to raise a topic will come to the centre of the circle, write it on a sheet of paper and announce it to the group before choosing a time and a place for discussion and posting it on a wall.

That wall becomes the agenda for the meeting.

No limit exists on the number of discussions that can be posted on the wall.

It is not compulsory to suggest an issue for discussion, but any participant  is allowed to suggest an issue if they want to. It also helps if the person has a real passion for the issue and can start the discussion on it. It is also suggested that someone at the discussion takes notes and posts a bullet point report of the discussion on another wall so that any participant can access the content of the discussion at all times. The note taker is often the most influential person at a discussion, because they decide what  get into the notes.

When all issues have been posted on the wall, the participants freely decide which discussions they are going to attend and the discussion groups begin. The participants may also switch to another discussion group at any time.

The whole open space meeting is split up into a number of separate sessions, each session comprising of a number of discussion groups running concurrently.

The whole group also takes part in the agenda creation session at the beginning, and a feedback session at the end.
Sessions typically last for an hour; the whole open space meeting usually lasts from a half day up to about two days. The agenda creation session usually lasts no more than an hour, even with a very large group.

Finally the really important bit.

Each  discussion group is governed by "Four Principles" and "One Law". This is what makes “open space” work

The  Four Principles

Whoever comes is the right people ...

Whenever it starts is the right time ...

Whatever happens is the only thing that could happen ...

When it's over, it's over …


The One Law

The Law of Mobility - If  you are neither learning nor contributing, move on.......

The law of mobility is a very important part of the process, because it enables ideas and opinions to be cross pollinated between conversations, just like a bee cross pollinates  flowers in a garden, and it also allows people the freedom to follow their instincts, even if that's to leave all the discussions completely and just sit in the cafe bar, looking pretty and attracting people, just like a butterfly does in a garden. Discussions between butterflies can be the most important and inspiring discussions of the whole open space meeting

so the law of mobility can also be expressed as the permission and encouragement to become a bee or a butterfly

so that's it in a nutshell, that's how an open space meeting can take any group and any topic and facilitate dialogue where everyone's opinion is heard

so why not come to one, and become part of the revolution

Click here for Dates and Venues of Open Space Events

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