Open Spaces are a kind of unconference, i.e. an alternative to a “normal” conference. An unconference is participant-driven and has no agenda set prior to the gathering. Corinna’s company holds an internal Open Space every other Friday and it does wonders to spread knowledge and gives time to discuss and solve problems with diverse groups of colleagues.
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Content of the 1-pager is mainly from Wikipedia (which in turn often quotes Harrison Owen, who invented Open Space Technology):
What part of a conference is
most interesting and valuable to
you? If it’s the discussions during
breaks and informal evening gatherings, you
are not alone. Open Space Technology enables participant-driven gatherings with lively discussions and without prior agenda.
Typical Flow of an Open Space
In the beginning a facilitator reads out the theme of this particular Open Space, followed by the general Principles and the Law. Then the floor opens for everyone to briefly introduce a topic they want to talk about. This session topic can be anything that fits within the theme. They then place their session into a time slot and room on a big bulletin board. At the set time and space everyone interested in the topic shows up to discuss it. The original suggester has to take notes that are made available to all Open Space participants afterwards.
- Whoever comes is the right people
You don’t need 50 people and the CEO in your discussion group to get great results
- Whenever it starts is the right time
- Wherever it happens is the right place
No need to stick to conference rooms. The lounge is great, too
- Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened
- When it’s over, it’s over
Even if there are time slots to help organize you can ignore these. Finish early or overrun depending on the flow of the discussion
Law of two Feet
If at any time during our time together you find your- self in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet, go someplace else.