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  • Writer's picturePJ Stevens

Open Space Technology – smarter, creative meetings.


"Unlock collective brilliance with Open Space Technology (OST), a participant-led

meeting format. Bridging knowledge gaps, OST empowers groups to self-organise,

fostering creativity, collaboration and problem solving. Developed in the 1980s, this

proven approach connects, engages, and captures the untapped wealth of

knowledge within individuals. Elevate your team's potential and improve business

with OST."

Open Space Technology (OST) stands as an invaluable, collaborative and participatory meeting approach that empowers groups to self-organise and tackle complex issues collectively. This participant-led format encourages engagement, fostering a sense of ownership in meetings, conversations and outcomes.

An embodiment of the adage "give people problems to solve, not jobs to do" OST serves as a conduit to harness the collective brilliance of individuals or networks. It facilitates connections, problem solving, and the exploration of opportunities, making it an ideal choice to tap into the wealth of knowledge and creativity existing within individuals in the room.

In the current era of remote work, where knowledge often remains isolated or siloed, OST emerges as a potent tool for connecting people and ideas. Originating in the 1980s by Harrison Owen, OST was designed to facilitate inclusive and productive discussions within groups, accommodating varying group sizes from 25-100 participants or even larger.

At its core, OST believes that participants possess the knowledge, expertise and energy to find solutions to their challenges. Providing a structured framework, it enables participants to shape their agenda and engage in meaningful discussions about topics they find relevant or necessary.

Here's a concise overview of how OST functions, including some key terms commonly used in an OST session:

Opening Circle: The session begins with a circle where the facilitator introduces the meeting's purpose and the principles of OST. Participants suggest topics they want to discuss, often starting with a broad question, opportunity or theme.

Marketplace or Scheduling Board: The facilitator creates a scheduling board with time slots and locations or group numbers. Participants write down their proposed topics on sticky notes, placing them on the board for discussion. Grouping similar themes helps form clear discussion groups.

Participant Choices: Participants review the marketplace and choose which discussions to attend, allowing them to freely move between topics throughout the session, following the "two feet" law. Participants go to the groups where are can learn or contribute usefully, if not, they are free to move on.

Small Group Discussions: Participants gather in small groups to discuss chosen topics, facilitating open dialogue, knowledge sharing and idea exploration. They own the conversation which greatly increases engagement and value.

Note-Taking: Each group is responsible for note-taking, capturing key ideas, which can be shared and documented for future reference.

Closing Circle: The session concludes with a closing circle, where participants reflect on discussions, share insights and identify next steps.

OST stands out for fostering creativity, collaboration, and engagement, proven to bridge knowledge gaps in businesses and promote self-organisation. Widely used in conferences, organisations, community gatherings and team meetings, OST has proven effective in tackling complex problems, generating innovative ideas, and building trust among participants.

If you're interested in hosting an Open Space meeting for your team, employees or business

network, feel free to get in touch. The Business Improvement Network offers experienced

facilitators who can collaborate with you to deliver a successful OST event.

"We find that Open Space suits us, our culture, and needs really well. OST meetings help us live our values and behaviours, meet our EDI agenda, and, importantly, close the knowledge gap between new and old employees, greatly improving problem solving."

- Chief of Staff.

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