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Working with ‘open space’ methodology?


I've been asked to step in at short notice to facilitate the last day of a 3 day knowledge/learning get-together for 90+ European country volunteers for a global network of schools/colleges. 

The programme outline has them making use of 'open space' activities on the last day: the first session to pick up on hot topics that haven't been covered in the first two days, and the second to get delegates into goal setting and action planning for taking ideas back to their own countries and implementing them.  The organisers also have a desire to build a stronger network of cross-European support between all the 28 countries represented so anything that creates the opportunity for this to develop would be great.

Having never used OS before, I am hoping that someone in this community might be able to share the logistics, process, what-to-do/not do, secrets to success, etc... that will save me more grey hairs and sleepless nights!

As this is also a voluntary role for me too, I would really like it to be a fun experience - for all!

Any process/insights/ideas/observations/activities for closing, etc gratefully received.


3 Responses

  1. open space tips


    I have found when I have used the os exercise that the following works well:

    Opening exercise which can be funny or just interesting (name 3 people you would invite for dinner?, worst holiday ever)

    Despite the apparent lack of structure you do need to prime several people to flip chart their ideas/issues, can be daunting for participants to be confronted with totally blank pages. Usually the groups then develop further without losing too much time

    Time limits for each section otherwise you get individuals taking up only one opportunity or worse hogging the limelight.

    A final planning round as otherwise you just get lots of ideas and no thoughts as to how to implement them

    Good luck on the day


    Julie Quin





  2. Is it relevant to have pre-agreed topic areas for Open Space…?

    Thanks for the tips Julie.  So good to get a response.

    Absolutely with you in terms of ‘getting into action’ and I am looking at ways to develop what they learn from the 2 days before, plus from other discussions they raise on the last day, into some sort of commitment and follow-through. 

    To start the third day I am thinking of using the 6 key functions assigned to these country committees as a guide to the open space discussions: from your experience is this too limiting having preset ‘umbrella topics’ or can it help focus discussions on the areas where they need to be channeling their energies?


  3. Open Space Technology

    –Hi, What a great opportunity for you and the participants to follow your passion to self-organise a really creative and productive event!

    If you have not already done so, I would suggest that you obtain a copy of Harrison Owen’s Open Space Technology book. This covers all the necessary details. If you don’t have easy access to this, then I would suggest that you visit 

    I have run several Open Space events and they have always been enjoyable and productive. The main practical tips that I would suggest are: have enough break out spaces and tools (flip charts, computers, pens and paper) to help to display the meeting options and to capture the sub-group key points;  In terms of announcing the potential meeting areas in the marketplace, make sure that the Convenors can be heard by all the participants (mobile microphone); offer some time slot schedule that allows for the collation of the sub-group reports; and also, provide a slot that allows a review of the sug-groups and a sharing of the potential next steps. 

    This is a great tool. I am confidient that if you just put your faith in the Open Space process, it will be a huge success!

    Dr Norrie W Silvestro Chartered Psychologist NWS Assessment & Development 07711715189

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