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Archive for the ‘OST’ Category

Anything related to Open Space Technology.

Open Discussion or Open Session or Open Space?

Posted by Jai on June 8, 2008

The words (Open Discussion/ Open Session/ Open Space) English literal meaning itself says it a lot but still sometimes people are confused about what they should use for a meet up. Whether it should be called open discussion or open session and where open space stands in. I am going to give it a try to explain it a bit.

Open Discussion:

Allowing people to put there opinion about the matter in a meeting makes it open for discussion. Usually the topics or agenda of such kind of meeting are already planned in advance.

Open Session:

Giving people freedom of attending/joining a meeting depending on their choice or priority is called the open session. The topic for the meeting is decided in advance but it gives the people freedom to change the discussion topic on common consensus. In a way, it implies that people have open discussion about the topic in open session.

Open Space:

Nothing is planned in advance. Everything is decided by the people on the go and like thinking people come together and go for organizing open session. In another way, you will have open sessions in open space.

So, how all this is related? In an open space you will be having open sessions and in open session you will be having open discussion, makes sense.


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How to organize Open Space?

Posted by Jai on June 4, 2008

Different people come out with different ideas to organize Open Space but the basic idea remain the same letting (mind not making) people get self organized. I am putting few things that might help you to get it started (I believe you are familiar with basic terms, if not please go through my previous blog).

Buildup market place:

  • Put the OST concepts like principles, law, roles etc. on big charts and put it on walls or white boards at common place. ( OpenSpace is very much about atmosphere, and constant reminders help this.)
  • Put a chart with the map of the breakout rooms and assign some number/letter to the same.
  • Put a chart for the discussion topics with breakout room number/letter and time slots.
  • For the subject paper use the template.

Kick-Off in common place:

  • Gather everyone in common place.
  • Introduce OpenSpace mechanisms (you can use some presentation slides if there are too many people otherwise I would suggest not to make it very formal, That might help you tell your own story…)
  • Present the theme.
  • put the forms and pens in the middle of the circle, and just walk away.(Really. Just walk away, out of the room if at all possible. It’s really cool to see the surprise, and the understanding that it’s up to the people themselves, and there’s no better way to make the point.)


  • Gather everyone together in the common space.
  • Ask the group to share how they experienced the OpenSpace, then ask if there is something interesting from a session that they would like to share with the group
  • Thank everyone for their participation and declare the OpenSpace closed.

Give it a try and do share your experience.

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Open Space Technology

Posted by Jai on June 4, 2008

Open What?

OpenSpace is a way for people to gather, exchange ideas, learn and contribute in a self-organising way.


Everybody comes together in a central place. The host presents the theme, the rules (not many) and the mechanisms. Then whoever has a subject he or she would like to discuss, he stands in the center of the circle, shortly introduces the subject and chooses a time and a place on a big board called the “marketplace”. People then separate out into breakout locations.The “slots” are only there to provide some structure. It does not matter how long a session takes. It could be ten minutes, it could be all night. It starts when it starts, and it ends when it ends.

The Four Principles

  • Whoever shows up is the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could
  • It starts when it starts
  • It’s over when it’s over

The One Law: The Law of Two Feet

Whenever you are in a place that you feel you are not learning or contributing, go to a place where you can learn or contribute.


Host: Hosts a session, documents the results
Participant: Shows up for a session, supports the host
goes from session to session, cross-pollinator
Butterfly: can not currently find a session to learn or contribute. So just sits and beautifies the Space.

Be prepared to be surprised

Be prepared to be surprised is a statement that asks you to be open to new impressions, opinions: to keep an open mind and try to look for things that surprise and delight you.

Don’t forget to read out Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide by Harrison Owen.

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