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OpenSpaceTechnology - Facilitator Training and Practice Program Notes

This page contains:

  1. 2016 Community Facilitators' Training Program Invitation and Schedule
  2. Some discussion questions used (much of the program was driven by participant questions)
  3. Practice Resources Library
  4. Some guiding thoughts/quotes


You are Invited to Help _______ go from Good to Great, Faster

…by becoming part of an ongoing Practice Group that will learn and work together, to host and facilitate community meetings and invite community action, on all of the issues critical to the future of _______, as local leaders in the practice of Open Space Technology (a meeting facilitation method We’ll create a cadre of facilitators who can provide support to future community conversations (and even pay them a stipend for facilitating).

We’ll kick off this special applied training on:

SESSION I Tuesday, June 21nd

SESSION II Thursday. June 23th

Wednesday June 29th 7:00 - 8:30 pm Video learning/planning session to debrief Session II

Wednesday July 6th 7:00 - 8:30 pm Video learning/planning session to prepare for facilitating Session III

SESSION III Saturday (July 9th) 9:30am-1pm

Wednesday July 13th 7:00 - 8:30 pm Video learning/planning session to prepare for facilitators to run future sessions

This course is being provided (at no registrant cost) for a small group of local leaders, by the City’s Economic Development Department.

A commitment to some pre-course study, to all of the above meetings, and to shaping and supporting (over the next few months) the formation of an ongoing practice group is required.

Open Space is a simple, effective way of bringing people together to get important things done quickly, in complex situations, diverse and even conflicted communities. We and others have used this approach in (Albuquerque, Buffalo, Milwaukee, and other cities, too). It's been used hundreds of thousands of times, for more than 30 years, all around the world. People everywhere have found it to be one of the best ways to get work done in communities. The working notes from these conversations will posted online in a central site.

NOW we want to make more of this happen, on all of the complex issues critical to ________’s future. To launch this work, we’re partnering with an internationally recognized leader in the practice of Open Space to guide us in developing a group of local practitioners to harness this approach for ourselves.

Do you care about the future of economic development, preserving the quality of neighborhoods, our impact on environment, arts & culture, social justice and community engagement? Do you want to meet and partner with people who share your passion? Do you want more skills and support for bringing people together to address these issues? That’s what this Practice Group is for. Please join us!

Whether you want to learn to organize any community action in this simple, powerful way, or you want to invite and energize work on one or more specific issues, you are invited to join this group, take the training, and take this work to a new level together.

Registration is required...


Discussion Questions for Debriefing Community Open Space Meeting - Session One

  1. What was new or different or unusual about working in Open Space?
  2. How did you feel working like this? What did you like or not? What was easy or challenging?
  3. Where have you had these feelings, this sort of experience, before? (Not just in meetings)
  4. What do you need to know to be able to create this experience for others?

Discussion Questions for Community Facilitators' Practice Group Formation

  1. Share an important story/experience of transformation, transcendence, flow, group spirit, living-on-the-edge, stretching beyond your comfort zone. Notice common themes.
  2. What has [this place] been? What has is it now? And What should it be?
  3. Why do you want to be part of this group and this initiative? What are you hoping for, passionate about, and/or committed to changing or creating?
  4. What things have you done (experiences, practices) that are like open space and might be important or helpful in the work of the practice group?

Alternatives to above (before session II) plus... creation of parallel or serial learning backlogs/discussions

  1. exactly one minute of silence - minimum viable open space?
  2. What can we do/share as a faciliator group to support our formation?
  1. what do we need to do to make this space ready? (issues and opps for preparing the space for session II)
  2. what do we need to learn to be able to open/host/facilitate OS meetings for community working groups? issues and opps for facilitation (practice learning, inner spirit and outer technical)
  3. inviting community (keeping it going, growing) - issues and opps for documentation - invites, notes, learning, practice groups, action/news, platform options
  4. introduction to mutuality - being aware of two states/realities simultaneously without crushing one or both of them

Training/Practice? Roles for Session Two

  1. ring the bells at opening, closing and (optionally) in between breakout sessions
  2. give some or all of the opening briefing
  3. stand near the community bulletin board, a.k.a the "marketplace wall" doing as LITTLE helping as possible... aspiring to nothing more than smiling and nodding toward the wall.
  4. invite conveners to move breakout session notes to the newsroom (if notes will be typed) or news wall (if we're just gathering up flipchart papers)
  5. pick up cups
  6. hover at the edge of breakout groups, without joining the conversation, noticing the "edge" between in and out of the group. Is there a difference between groups? What is the difference between topics you care about and topics you are not very passionate about?
  7. stand somewhere near the middle of the main room and listen to all the groups at once. For extra credit, listen to all the groups at once while also noticing your feet and legs, your back and shoulders, your face and head, and/or your breathing in and out.
  8. answer participant questions with questions... "What do you really want to do?" and/or... "Great, will you take care of that?"


The papers and tools collected here are offered as invitation and support for you to invite and support more and more people in ___________ to get together and get important things done, toward envisioning and creating best possible futures for everyone in _________, starting along with making ___________ greater.


 OpenSpaceWorld?.org - a global open space archive and portal

 Talking About Open Space

 Open Space Technology: An Executive Summary - (a good first handout)

 Working in Open Space: A Guided Tour - (another good handout, slightly longer) 

 Opening Space For New Life At Work
 Good handout, reprint from a magazine, includes some images


 Open Space Technology: A User's Guide (original edition, html version) (third edition, revised and expanded, berrett-koehler publishers)

 Open Space Technology: An Inviting Guide
 Short how-to guide for clients and facilitators, focused on invitation OST Practice Notes
 Guiding Thoughts -
 Essential Elements -
 Open Space Anywhere -
 Role of the Facilitator (high-level checklist) -
 Preparation Checklist -
 Sample Opening Script - based on User's Guide -
 Taking Notes - Template/Platform? Options -
 Taking Notes - Proceedings Samples -
 Keeping it Going - UK Rules for Ongoing Open Space -
 And more... - 


 Harrison Owen's website 
 Offers a numberof deep perspectives in short papers

 Open Space Technology: A User’s NON-Guide - 
 A sort of OST sutra, in 37 voices from allaround the world (2002), edited from OSLIST email group

 Living Peace: the open space of our lives  
 Collection by OST facilitators from around the world, Raffi Aftandelian (editor), Michael Herman (contributor) (2008)

 The Inviting Organization Emerges - The Evolution of Organization in Open Space

 Grandma’s Lullaby - A personal story of holding space for transformation


 Youth Action, Racine Wisconsin -
 Michael's First Time Opening -
 Frequently Told Stories (very short descriptions of many real uses) -
 YouTube? videos -  (see also
 Paul Levy's selected videos -

KINDRED METHODS and MASH-UPS (google where links aren't included)

 LeanCoffee?.com - small, short, serial meetings with just-in-time agenda topics, see also
 LiberatingStructures?.com - a collection of 33 open alternatives to traditional meeting forms
 Appreciative Inquiry - an intentional approach to identifying what's working and how to make more of it
 Open Space Cafe - when the first question in a cafe format is: "What questions should we be addressing here?"
 Institute for Cultural Affairs - especially their Workshop Model
 Agile/Scrum? - where the wall = the backlog, daily stand-ups = morning/evening news, for instance
 SMARTer AGILE - the marriage of open space and agile software development, adapted from OpenXP?
 Lean - hosting an open space meeting, or posting a breakout session as the equivalent of "stopping the line"


 OSLIST - email group, 35,000 messages since 1996, currently 800 members
 A 24/7 professional conference, coffee break and coaching hotline -- and perhaps the world's only email group with a rotating "Poet Laureate" honor

 OSonOS? - the 20+ years and still counting worldwide practitioner conference


We have been doing Open Space for a very long time in South Africa. But we don't call it Open Space, we call it "meeting under the trees." What I learned at this conference is that we could be doing our government under the trees.

--Open Space participant from Durban, South Africa

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

--Margaret Mead

If a living system is unhealthy, the way to make it more healthy is to reconnect it with more of itself.

--Francisco Varela, Biologist

Cesar Chavez, the community and labor organizer who was eventually president of the United Farm Workers, was once asked by an aspiring young organizer, "How do you organize?" He said, "First, you talk to one person, face to face, then you talk to another…" "But, Cesar," the impatient youth interrupted, "how do you really get them involved?" Chavez replied, "First, you talk to one person, face to face, and then you talk to the next and then the next…"

There are three ways of trying to win the young. There is persuasion, there is compulsion and there is attraction. You can preach at them, but that is a hook without a worm. You can say "you must volunteer," and that is of the devil. Or, you can tell them, "you are needed," and that appeal hardly ever fails.

--Kurt Hahn founder of Outward Bound Schools and father of adventure education

Play for more than you can afford to lose, and you will learn the game.

--Winston Churchill

We must become the change we wish to see in the world.

-- M. Gandhi is love made visible. (...leadership is practice made visible! --MH)

--Kahlil Gibran

 Body rests like a mountain 
 Breath moves like the sea 
 Heart like the sky

--via Julie Henderson

It's not that Big Mind is better than Small Mind. It's the going back and forth that makes us stronger.

--Chagdud Tulku, Tibetan Master

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.

--R. W. Emerson

Last edited August 25, 2016 12:19 pm CentralTimeUSA? by MichaelHerman

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Last edited June 22, 2020 4:21 pm CentralTimeUSA by MichaelHerman
© 1998-2020 Michael Herman and, unless signed by another author or organization. Please do not reprint or distribute for commercial purposes without permission and full attribution, including web address and this copyright notice. Permission has always been granted gladly to those who contact me and say something about themselves, their work, and their use of these materials. Thank you and good luck! - Michael