Open Space

Open Space (technology / methodology), is one way to enable all kinds of people, in any kind of organization, to create inspired meetings and events.  

Use OST for strategic planning, innovation, new products / product lines, creative ideas, marketing plans, media plans, launches, client pitches . . . 

"31 facilitators, using open space on open space. 24 topics, inspired conversations, stimulating questions, lots of ah-ha's, sharings and great ideas to put into practice. I am re-energised, delighted and inspired to create even more open space. Thank you to all there and Brian." YC 


 Harrison Owen created or rather discovered the method first in 1985. Over the last 25+years, it has become clear that open space, as an intentional leadership practice, can create inspired organizations, where ordinary people work together to create extraordinary results.

The opening circle

Would this be of interest to you? Then Yvonne will delight in helping you plan and facilitate your Open Space event.  She also had the pleasure of participating in a wonderful day of creativity and action facilitated by Harrison Owen in Sydney Australia in 2002. "From that day onwards I am a huge fan of the wonderful process and the amazing results achieved by tapping into peoples' passions through OST." Yvonne Collier

Bulletin BoardA Comment from Bevilles Managing Director of the results of OST seen in the photos.

"24 passionate issues. 119 innovative ideas to move us forward. Better teamwork, more product lines, increased customers and customer loyalty and over half a million in cost savings." 

OST has run in 90 countries in the USA, Europe, Africa, India, Australia, China, South America . . .

With organisations such as Procter & Gamble, Dupont, Shell, Ikea, Taj Hotel Group, Pespi, Rockport Shoes, AT & T, IBM, World Bank, Bank of Montreal . . . Choosing at the Idea Market Place

Highly scalable and adaptable, with groups of 5 to 2,000+ people, working in one-day to three-day events, the common result is a powerful, effective connecting build on what's already happening in the organization.

You get, planning and action, learning and doing, passion and responsibility, participation and performance.

It is collaborative, inspirational, exciting and produces quality results synergistically.

The Facilitator's role is key to the success of OST.

In Harrison Owens' words, "Throughout the process, the ideal facilitator is described as being "fully present and totally invisible" (see Owen, User's Guide), "holding a space" for participants to self-organize, rather than managing or directing the conversations."

Generating IdeasThe Four Principles of Open Space and One Law

Who ever comes, is the right people

Whatever happens, is all that could have

Whenever it starts, is the right time

When it is over, it is over and when it's not, it's not

The Law of Two Feet / Mobility implies that if, after being part of a session you are no longer interested or not contributing or learning, you have permission to leave. The law puts responsibility on you for your own actions.

Some people act like Bumblebees and Butterflies.  They are those people who use their two feet and 'flit' from meeting to meeting like a bumble bee. Or like a butterfly, alight and just 'be' by the pool, in the garden . . . These people perform the very important functions of pollination and cross-fertilization, lending richness and variety to the discussions.

"Bees in nature leads to riches. Butterflies appreciate the beauty in all off us." Harrison Owen.Committed to Implementation

Harrison Owen explains that this approach works best when four conditions are present.

High levels of:-

1. Complexity, in term of the tasks to be done or outcomes achieved

2. Diversity, in terms of the people involved and/or needed to make any solution work

3. Real or potential conflict, meaning people really care about the central issue or purpose

4. Urgency, meaning that the time to act was "yesterday".

The approach is characterized by five basic mechanisms: 

1.  A broad, open invitation that articulates the purpose of the meeting

2.  Participant chairs arranged in a circle

3.  A 'bulletin board' of issues and opportunities posted by participants

4.  A 'marketplace' with many breakout spaces that participants move freely between, learning and contributing as they "shop" for information and ideas

5.  A pattern of flow emerges within and between the whole group and small-group breakout sessions.

Brief overview

Start with a blank wall and no agenda.

About one to 1.5 hours later a wall is covered with written issues that people are passionate about. This is the agenda. People often express, "how are we going to do all that!"

At the end of the 1 - 3 day conference (or meeting on a smaller scale), people have created ideas, innovation, resource sharing, and tangible actions, together with the responsibility, accountability and the passion to make it happen.

OST works because it harnesses and acknowledges the power of self-organization. The method is substantially aligned with the deepest process of life itself, as described by leading-edge science as well as ancient spiritual teachings.

Open Space Technology in the words of the originater, Harrison Owen

"There must be a clear and compelling theme, an interested and committed group, time and a place, and a leader.

Detailed advance agendas, plans, and materials are not only un-needed, they are usually counterproductive. 

Creation of a powerful theme statement is critical, for it will be the central mechanism for focusing discussion and inspiring participation. It must have the capacity to inspire participation by being specific enough to indicate the direction, while possessing sufficient openness to allow for the imagination of the group to take over.

The group must be interested and committed. Failing that, Open Space Technology will not work.

The key ingredients for deep creative learning are real freedom and real responsibility. Freedom allows for exploration and experimentation, while responsibility insures that both will be pursued with rigor. Interest and commitment are the prerequisites for the responsible use of freedom. There is no way that we know of to force people to be interested and committed.

Participation in the Open Space event must be completely voluntary. The people who come should be there because they want to be there.

It is also imperative that all participants know what they are getting into before they arrive. Obviously they can't know the details of discussions that have yet to take place. But they can and should be made aware of the general outlines.

Open Space is not for everybody, and involuntary, non-informed participation is not only a contradiction in terms, it can become very destructive."

Yvonne will work with you to choose the right process out of a huge bucketful of tools available to you. Should Open Space best meets your need, Yvonne brings her experience and expertise to help you and your group create phenominal results.

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