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Open Space Technology

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Opening New Horizons: The Magic of Open Space Technology

In a world swamped with structured meetings and agendas, imagine a space where spontaneity reigns. Where participants set the agenda, and passion drives discussions. Welcome to Open Space Technology (OST), a facilitation methodology that unleashes the collective wisdom of groups, fostering innovative solutions to complex challenges. Dive into the transformative power of OST and discover how it's revolutionizing conversations in organizations globally.


Venturing into Open Space Technology unveils a constellation of advantages:

  • Democratized Discussions: Everyone gets a voice, ensuring diverse perspectives are heard and valued.

  • Unleashed Creativity: The absence of a rigid structure encourages innovative thinking and solutions.

  • Swift Problem Solving: By focusing on pressing issues, OST accelerates solution-finding.

  • Enhanced Collaboration: OST fosters an environment of mutual respect and collaboration.

  • Empowered Participants: Individuals take ownership of their contributions, driving meaningful outcomes.

When to use

Open Space Technology shines in diverse scenarios:

  1. Strategic Visioning: Harnessing collective intelligence to shape an organization's future direction.

  2. Problem Solving: Addressing complex, multifaceted challenges that benefit from diverse perspectives.

  3. Team Building: Strengthening team cohesion and encouraging collaborative problem-solving.

  4. Product Development: Gleaning insights from cross-functional teams to drive product innovation.

  5. Change Management: Facilitating discussions around organizational changes, ensuring everyone's concerns and ideas are considered.

OD Application

Open Space Technology: Unlocking Pathways to Organizational Well-being and Prosperity

In the realm of collaborative problem-solving and participative decision-making, Open Space Technology (OST) emerges as a groundbreaking approach. Conceived by Harrison Owen in the 1980s, OST is designed to address complex organizational issues in remarkably short amounts of time. Based on the principles of self-organization, this methodology brings together diverse stakeholders, enabling them to discuss, brainstorm, and generate solutions in a democratic and open environment. By harnessing the collective wisdom of participants, OST paves the way for enhanced organizational "Well-being" and sustained "Prosperity".

Cultivating Organizational Well-being with Open Space Technology

Creating an Inclusive Environment:OST thrives on inclusivity. By offering every participant an equal opportunity to voice their opinions, it fosters an environment where individuals feel valued and heard. This inclusivity promotes psychological safety and boosts organizational morale.

Encouraging Authentic Conversations:OST meetings are devoid of predetermined agendas, allowing conversations to flow organically. This approach ensures that discussions are genuine, addressing pressing concerns and unveiling deep-seated organizational issues.

Building Collaborative Bridges:OST brings together participants from diverse backgrounds and hierarchies. By doing so, it promotes cross-functional collaboration, bridging silos, and fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose.

Nurturing Organizational Prosperity with Open Space Technology

Accelerated Problem Solving:OST's unique approach facilitates rapid problem identification and solution generation. By harnessing collective intelligence, organizations can swiftly address challenges, ensuring they remain agile and responsive.

Democratic Decision Making:OST ensures that decisions are not top-down but are instead a product of collective consensus. Such decisions, backed by the broader organizational community, are more likely to succeed, driving sustained prosperity.

Unlocking Hidden Potential:OST meetings often unveil latent talent and innovative ideas. By offering everyone a platform, organizations can discover hidden gems within their ranks, fostering innovation and driving growth.

Discerning the Alignment: Is Open Space Technology the Right Beacon for Your Organization?

The transformative potential of OST is undeniable. However, discerning its alignment with specific organizational contexts is crucial. Here's where OST shines:

  • Complex Problem Solving: For organizations grappling with multifaceted challenges that require diverse perspectives, OST offers a robust platform.

  • Organizational Change Initiatives: When navigating change, OST can be leveraged to gather feedback, address concerns, and co-create the change journey, ensuring collective buy-in.

  • Innovation Drives: Organizations looking to foster innovation can employ OST to brainstorm, share ideas, and co-create innovative solutions.

However, while OST is versatile, it's essential to ensure that the organization is prepared for such an open and democratic approach, ensuring genuine participation and commitment.

Tailoring and Harnessing Open Space Technology

For OST to truly serve as a transformative tool, meticulous tailoring and adept facilitation are paramount. A roadmap for OD consultants:

  • Setting the Stage: Begin by elucidating the principles of OST, emphasizing its significance in collaborative problem solving and decision making.

  • Crafting the Central Theme: While OST doesn't have a predetermined agenda, a central theme or question can act as a guiding beacon, ensuring discussions remain focused.

  • Facilitating with Finesse: The role of a facilitator in OST is crucial. They must create an environment of trust, ensuring genuine participation and guiding discussions without imposing their views.

  • Documenting and Acting: Post the OST session, it's crucial to document the discussions, insights, and decisions. Equally important is to act on them, ensuring that the collective wisdom is translated into actionable strategies.

Sensing the Transformation: Open Space Technology in Action

When OST is deeply integrated into an organization's collaborative framework, its transformative impact is palpable:

  • Individual Level: Individuals feel empowered, valued, and genuinely invested in organizational endeavors. They sense a shift from top-down directives to democratic decision-making.

  • Team Level: Teams function with enhanced collaboration, breaking down silos, and capitalizing on diverse perspectives. There's a palpable sense of shared ownership and purpose.

  • Organizational Level: The organization as a whole becomes more agile, responsive, and innovative. Decisions resonate with the broader organizational pulse, and there's a genuine commitment to collective well-being and prosperity.

Open Space Technology, with its emphasis on democratic participation, collective wisdom, and swift problem-solving, stands as a beacon for organizations navigating the intricate dynamics of collaboration, innovation, and change. By championing the cause of collective intelligence, OST ensures that organizations don't lose sight of their most valuable asset – their people. As organizations embark on their journey of transformation, OST serves as a guiding light, ensuring that the path to well-being and prosperity is paved with inclusivity, authenticity, and collective brilliance.


Tech Titan: Harnessing Collective Genius

Facing a product development roadblock, a leading tech firm turned to OST. By inviting a cross-section of employees, from engineers to marketers, the company unearthed innovative solutions, driving its product to new heights.

Outcome: A groundbreaking product feature, reduced time-to-market, and a bolstered team spirit.

City Council: Crafting a Vision Together

A city, aiming to redefine its 10-year vision, embraced OST. Inviting citizens, council members, and local businesses to the table, they crafted a shared vision for a sustainable, vibrant future.

Outcome: A comprehensive city vision, strong community buy-in, and several community-led initiatives.

Global NGO: Bridging Divides

An international NGO, grappling with regional silos, employed OST. By bringing regional heads together in an open space, they fostered understanding, bridged divides, and crafted a unified global strategy.

Outcome: A cohesive global strategy, enhanced inter-region collaboration, and a surge in global initiatives.

Facilitator Notes

How to Introduce Open Space Technology

Begin with the limitations of traditional meetings and the potential of harnessing collective wisdom. Introduce OST as an avenue where passion meets purpose, and every voice matters.

Sample Introduction Script

"In a world of structured dialogues, what if we dared to venture into the open? Welcome to Open Space Technology, where your passions drive the agenda, and together, we craft solutions that matter."

Helpful Facilitator Questions

  1. What topics or challenges would you passionately contribute to in an open space setting?

  2. How can the principles of OST be integrated into our regular team meetings?

  3. What potential challenges might arise in an OST session, and how can they be addressed?

  4. How does OST's emphasis on passion and responsibility resonate with your personal values?

  5. Can you recall a past situation where OST would have significantly enhanced the outcomes?

Navigating the Open: The Dance of Open Space Technology

As organizations sail the turbulent seas of the modern era, Open Space Technology serves as a guiding star. Its principle-driven approach invites every individual to the helm, navigating challenges with collective wisdom. By embracing the spontaneity and structure of OST, organizations are charting courses to unexplored horizons, driven by the winds of passion, purpose, and participation.

Success Indicators: The OST Effect

A successful OST session manifests in:

  1. Vibrant Participation: Active engagement from all participants, driven by passion.

  2. Tangible Outcomes: Concrete action plans or solutions emerging from the discussions.

  3. Diverse Voices: A multitude of perspectives, ensuring holistic solutions.

  4. Empowered Ownership: Participants taking responsibility for their proposed actions or projects.

  5. Continued Conversations: The ripple effects of OST discussions influencing future organizational dialogues.

Deep Dive

Related Theories

Unconference (Harrison Owen) Field: Facilitation

Emerging alongside OST, the unconference emphasizes participant-driven content, mirroring OST's democratized discussions.

World Café (Juanita Brown & David Isaacs) Field: Community Building

This method fosters open discussions in small groups, akin to OST's breakout sessions, driving collective insights.

Participatory Action Research (Orlando Fals-Borda) Field: Social Research

Focusing on collective problem-solving, this methodology resonates with OST's emphasis on collaborative solutions.


  1. How has your perception of meetings and discussions transformed post-OST?

  2. How can the principles of OST influence our daily interactions and collaborations?

  3. What are the ethical considerations when facilitating OST, especially around inclusivity?

  4. How might OST evolve with virtual workspaces and digital platforms?

  5. How does OST influence long-term organizational culture and team dynamics?


Here are five highly relevant, intellectually stimulating, and practical research questions:

  1. How does the size and diversity of a group influence the outcomes of an OST session?

  2. What are the psychological and social factors that drive active participation in OST?

  3. How can digital platforms be optimized to facilitate virtual OST sessions?

  4. What is the impact of OST on long-term organizational collaboration and innovation?

  5. How does the OST methodology adapt across different cultural and regional contexts?


  1. "Open Space Technology: A User's Guide" by Harrison Owen The foundational guide on OST, offering a deep dive into its principles and practices.

  2. "The Power of Participation: Creating Conferences That Deliver Learning, Connection, Engagement, and Action" by Adrian Segar While not OST-specific, this book delves into participatory conference formats, aligning with OST's ethos.

  3. "Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making" by Sam Kaner A guide on fostering participatory decision-making, resonating with OST's emphasis on inclusive discussions.


Open Space Technology is not just a facilitation technique—it's a revolution in how we converse, collaborate, and create. In the vast open space of possibilities, every voice matters, every idea counts, and passion drives progress. As you step into the world of OST, may you discover the transformative power of open spaces and the magic they hold.

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