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Open Space Technology

The initial activity of an open space vent is designed to move people into a place where they know what they are doing, participated in creating an agenda and be preparing to move forward into action.


The facilitator should introduce and make flipcharts for the following concepts for :

The Four Principles

  • Who ever comes is the right people
  • Whatever happens is all that could have
  • Whenever it starts is the right time
  • When it is over, it is over

The Law of Two Feet

The Law of Two Feet implies that if, after being in part of a session you no longer interested in, you have permission to leave.  The law puts responsibility for your own actions on your own shoulders.

Bumblebees and Butterflies

Bumblebees and Butterflies are for those people who wish to use their two feet and “flit” from meeting to meeting. These people can pollinate and cross-fertilize, lending richness and variety to the discussions.

Sample Open Space Session Outline;



Opening Remarks

  • Seat the group in a circle and greet the group
  • Communicate essential logistics
  • Keep it brief

Focus the Group

  • Facilitator moves outside the circle
  • Invite the participants to see who is there, allow time to let them really see who is sitting in the circle
  • Keep the pace slow and deliberate to let people catch their breath

State the Theme

  • Make clear the purpose of the meeting – this is a destination check
  • Provocatively cover the theme, purpose, objective of the session
  • Outline any specific (positive) expectations in regards to an ‘end product’ of the session

Describe the Process

  • Explain the Open Space Technology approach
  • Plant the idea that it has already been done before and set expectations that this group will have a positive and successful experience

Determining the Topics

  • The facilitator should then tell the group that once they have their issue or opportunity in mind, to come out into the centre of the circle, grab a piece of paper and marker and write down a short title and sign their name.
  • Once done, each should stand in front of the group and say “I would like to address _____”, or “I’d like to talk with people about _____”.   After each person has announced their theme, they should take the piece of paper and tape it up on the blank wall.
  • People vote on the areas that actions would be required as they emerged from the discussion and how best to tackle them

Developing the Community Bulletin Board and Agenda

  • After people have stood to announce their sessions, they should pass by a blank chart and affix their issue to it.
  • Once the community bulletin board is created with all the possible discussion group topics, the facilitator should move on to talk about the market place.
  • People decide which action area they want to work on and discuss how they will begin.

Creating the Agenda

  • Now that all the possible topics are on the wall, people need to develop an agenda by determining when and where the session/discussion will be held.
  • Give people time to discuss together, negotiate, combine similar session topics, and move sessions around so that most people can attend the key sessions of their choice.
  • By the time the agenda is complete, the community should have specific discussion groups determined, as well as the time and place for each group.
  • A number of groups should run simultaneously.