Open Space


The goal of Open Space is the rapid development of solutions and aspects of change on a complex or conflicting issue. Open Space is a large group process in which anywhere from 20 to 1,000 people work on an issue or problem-solving.

Open Space Technology was developed in the USA by Harrison Owen around 1985 and is now used worldwide. The website counts registrations in 125 countries around the world and hundreds of registered Open Space facilitators. Since then, other similar large group methods have been developed, such as the barcamp, which is often organized more online and tends to emerge from the Internet community, or the very low-threshold marketplace method.

For this purpose, participants meet in the Open Space Conference to exchange ideas on a relevant topic that people want to work on together.

First, within the plenum, according to the principle of self-organization, main topics are proposed and selected, which are then deepened in smaller working groups. Here, any topic suggested by a participant and deemed important in the context of the overall topic can be addressed, provided that the participant takes charge of the discussion for it and other interested parties can be found to work on the topic.

All that needs to be available for an Open Space Conference is a sufficiently large conference room and smaller rooms in which the individual working groups can meet.

The advantage of this method is that the heterogeneous experiences, competencies and observations of the participants are bundled and in this way diverse project and solution ideas can emerge.

Open Space always has a general theme. Appropriate subjects have one or more of the following characteristics:

– Urgent: It burns under the nails of the participants, it concerns them/ affects them/touches them, and the solution should have been available yesterday.
– Broad-based: Room for new ideas and creative solutions.
– Complex: There are many different ideas and ways, it cannot be solved by one person.
– Important: Central to the future of the system.

An Open Space often lasts two to three days, the classic form two and a half days. Depending on the topic, a shortened version of only one day can also be successful.

If an Open Space lasts several days, the last half day is used for evaluation and, if necessary, action planning. Often, working groups for implementation are already put together at the meeting and initial steps are agreed upon.

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