Open space

Open space

Picture for Open space

Image by Pandiyan (Access: 30.09.2009)

Short description

Open Space is a method for large groups where 20 to 1000 people collaborate to work on a topic or find a solution for a problem.

Process description

  1. At the beginning all participants are sitting in a circle. The facilitator “opens the space” and introduces the procedure.

  2. Content and organisation emerge from the interests and topics of the participants. Everybody can make a contribution. It should be a topic or task with some urgency. Someone should be willing to take the responsibility.

  3. Issues are assigned to the available work rooms and time slots on a large paper-covered wall.

  4. During the market phase, starting times and rooms are negotiated and participants sign up to rooms according to their interest in the topics.

  5. Group work: Participants self-organise their work, guided by the law of two feet (see below). The group organisers are asked to document the results of the group work in order to make it available to other participants.

  6. Morning and evening news

  7. Evaluation and implementation planning

  8. Final round (often with a ritual where the speaker holds up a rod)

  9. „Closing the room“

Required resources

Space for documentation


The success of an open space conference depends on the implementation of the ideas that were generated. Often the participants are highly motivated such that a powerful momentum is generated and numerous activities initiated. However, the implementation should be supported and supervised. The facilitators are responsible for that. They need to circulate and determine which project needs which form of support.

The law of two feet: If at any time during our time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet. Go to some other place where you may learn and contribute.


  1. Do we have one headline at the beginning or what is the reason to come together?

  2. Are the processes limited in time or participants?

  3. Is the duration limited: possible over serveral days, weeks, month?

  4. Should one use templates for the results and their documentation?

(Margit Scholl)