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Open Space



Open Space is a fast productive way for people to self Organise through Shared Leadership and self- managed groups. Open space runs on two fundamentals, passion and responsibility. Passion engages the people in the room. Responsibility ensures that the task gets done. A focusing theme or question provides the framework for the event.


  1. All Participants are seated in a circle. The four principles and one law that guide Open space are introduced.
  1. The focusing question is introduced. Participants are invited to identify any issue for which they have some genuine passion and are prepared to take personal responsibility. With the issue in mind, they come to the center of the circle, write their issue on a piece of paper, announce it to the group and post the paper on the wall( Market place)
  1. When all the issues that anybody cares to identify have surfaced, the group is invited to go to the wall(marketplace), sign up for the issues they care to deal with and get to work.
  1. As the groups meet, reports of their activities are generated and at the conclusion (in a three-day event) all the issues are prioritized. The “ hot”  issues are developed in further detail with concrete action as the goal.

Principles of Open Space

  1. Whoever comes are the right people. This reminds people that it is not how many people or the position they hold that counts, rather it is their passion for the subject that is important. So what happens if nobody came to your group? Well, when was the last time you had the time to work on an idea you really cared about? Even a group of one works.
  1. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened. This is a reminder to let go of what might have been, should have been or could have  been. It is in moments of surprise, large and small, that real learning and growth occur.
  1. When it starts is the right time. Creativity and spirit don’t happen according to the clock. They appear in their own time.
  1. When its over, its over. If you get together and it takes ten minutes to do what you wanted, congratulations! Move on and do something else. If, on the other hand, you find yourself deeply engaged in what you are doing, keep doing it until you are finished.
  1. The Law of Two feet( Sometimes called the Law of personal initiative) says to stand for what you believe and if you feel you are neither contributing nor learning where you are, use your two feet and go somewhere else. The Law is fundamentally about personal responsibility. It makes it clear that the only person responsible for your experience is you.

Source: Harrison Owen in The Change Handbook by P. Holman and T. Devane, 1999: Berret- Koehler. Publishers Pages 233- 244



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