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I recently wrote the following summary for [OpenSpaceWorld.org]:

Open Space Anywhere

Whether you're just learning about Open Space, have some experience as a participant or facilitator, or even when planning your first Open Space meeting, the patterns described below can guide your work in Opening Space and help you skillfully adapt Harrison Owen's OST: A User's Guide (book/html) anywhere. You can see these patterns turn up in stories of open space events.  Looking across these three groups, you might also notice that the four conditions loosely inform the planning considerations and ultimately the mechanisms of the actual meeting.  The condition of diversity, for instance, is reflected in the invitation list and honored when marketplace gives everyone the space to chart their own course in the work.

Initial Conditions – When to Open

Open Space is an inviting alternative to the usual meeting, conference or summit format, in organizations, communities, alliances and networks, when these conditions are present – and especially when levels are high and/or rising: Open Space will work with almost any question and any group that cares about that question, but it works even better when things get challenging in these ways.

A Simple Plan – Get Ready to Open

Open Space is a practice in finding one more thing to NOT do.  Here are the essential considerations, without any requirement that they be accomplished any certain way. There are always a lot of things we COULD do before any meeting, but what really matters is an issue of importance, a group that cares, a place and time or other platform to meet, and way to capture the results.  That's it.

Basic Mechanisms – Practice Space

Here we look at the basic mechanisms at work in Open Space.  These are forms that people everywhere understand and know how to operate.  Again, offered without any need to specify exactly how these things will be operationalized in any particular setting. None of this is prescription or requirement.  You don't need all these conditions for Open Space to work. There isn't any one way to plan a meeting, invite stakeholders, create a bulletin board or open a marketplace. If you can't Open Space the way it's written up in Harrison Owen's OST User's Guide (book/html), just look for ways to bend the practices you have, in the direction of… invitation, circle, bulletin board, marketplace, and practice.  Invite people into a purpose that matters, make the boundaries clear but permeable, open access to information and the tools to distribute it, give people as much room as possible to direct their own work, and look for ways to establish an easy rhythm and ongoing practice.

An Open World

Finally, if you look for these forms in the world, in the business press for instance, you might begin to suspect that we are, already, living and working in Open Space, no matter how big, how slow, or subtle, the patterns and movements. Wherever we are, we have only to point to the conditions, make a simple plan, and use these basic mechanisms to open some space.  

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Last edited June 19, 2015 2:43 am CentralTimeUSA by c-24-12-112-72.hsd1.il.comcast.net
© 1998-2020 Michael Herman and www.michaelherman.com, 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