What is Open Space?
Open Space is a self organising session; quite the opposite of a scheduled Programme. Participants work together to create their own conference schedule, just-in-time, during the event and set up a great environment for peer-learning. We pay attention to feedback and reflections from participants and adapt the schedule as we go. The facilitator sets the scene and introduces the over arching theme for the open space. After the opening, we get started with a marketplace. Anyone with a topic they want to talk about comes up to the front and announces their topic. You don’t need to be an expert to raise a topic, you can raise it even if you know nothing about it but want to find out more.
All you are doing is committing to convening a session about it. After announcing it, you place a piece of paper with your topic on the marketplace wall. You also grab a post-it note which gives you a time and location slot and stick that up next to your topic. After topics have started to emerge, people can gather around the wall, to take a look at which sessions they would like to attend. If 2 sessions seem similar you could ask the conveners to combine them. This is self organisation at it’s best. In an amazingly short period of time, an agenda is decided.
Since the meeting is supposed to be self-organising, the conveners put their energy not in running the meeting but creating a setting that gets everyone’s creative energy flowing.
There are 4 rules of Open Space:
• Whoever comes is the right person;
• Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened;
• Whenever it starts, that is the right time; and
• When it’s over, it’s over
If you’ve never attended an Open Space before, prepare to be surprised!