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Open Space Technology

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Open Space Technology

A User's Guide, 2nd Edition


15 min read
9 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Here’s a radical management idea: Take your best people, sit them in a circle, give them a problem, and let them solve it.

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable
  • Well Structured


Harrison Owen presents a hands-on, step-by-step manual for putting on an open space technology workshop. In OST workshops, participants basically set and facilitate the agenda with some guidance from a facilitator. Here, the book’s examples are particularly handy. Owen suggests conference duration, agenda and techniques including how to set up a meeting, invite participants, prepare the logistics and meeting site, facilitate activities and more. While these workshops generally involve hundreds of people, you can also put on an OST event with as few as five. If you want to read gripping business philosophy, look elsewhere - this is a practical how-to manual, a task it accomplishes quite wellgetAbstract.comrecommends this informative guided tour of the OST process to those who want to know how, because they already know why.


What Is Open Space Technology

Open space technology or OST depends on four basic components: meeting in a circle; having open, free, and enthusiastic communication; using a bulletin board to identify interests, and creating a marketplace where people can share their interests in an orderly way. These four components are "a circle, breath, a bulletin board and a marketplace."

The OST approach, which can be adapted to any setting, has been used in a variety of conferences, from a National Education Association gathering for 400 teachers to small management teams of five to 20 people.

An international conference held in 1983 took a full year to organize. When it was over, the organizer (author Harrison Owen) realized that everyone felt that - while the event had gone well - the program’s most useful element had been the coffee breaks. This led him to wonder if he could combine the "level of synergy and excitement" in a good coffee break with the "substantive activity and results" that make a good meeting.

The organizer later came to work in an African village, Balamah, where he observed the excitement of a celebration in the center of the village. The event...

About the Author

Harrison Owen, the President of H.H. Owen and Company, originated open space technology. He has worked with a variety of organizations in putting on OST events, including small West African villages, urban community organizations in the U.S. and Africa, the Peace Corps, regional medical programs, the National Institute of Health, and the Veterans Administration. His other books include: Our Now: The Story of Open Space Technology, Spirit: Transformation and Development in Organization; Leadership Is; Riding the Tiger; The Millennium Organization and Tales from Outer Space.

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