Open Space Technology – an ‘operating system’ for complexity


March 25th, 2009

If I didn’t know about Open Space, I reckon I’d have to invent it! Barely a day goes by when I don’t use what I know about Open Space – sometimes directly by actually using Open Space Technology as a meeting process, or more often, as a way of understanding and relating to whatever is going on, especially in groups. And even when I can’t use the full-blown open space process, I can often use parts of the process to enable groups to become more connected to what they are passionate about and how they might take responsibility. imgp32801

On the surface, Open Space is a simple process: seat people in a circle, introduce the theme, open the space, allow self-organisation, write some reports, develop some actions, close the circle. Yet it sits on a foundation of deep awareness of how people relate to each other, their passions and their responsibilities. It approaches who is present, and why, when and where they work based on complexity and self-organising systems. It is, indeed, an ‘operating system’ for these tricky, sometimes chaotic, times.

I find myself using Open Space, and it’s complementary processes such as World Cafe and Solutions-Focus, most of the time. 

And there’s also a great bonus in using Open Space. The people. The Open Space tribe is a diverse, fascinating and generous bunch. One of the reasons I try and get to Open Space on Open Space gatherings is simply to be in conversation with some of these people. (This year the World OSonOS is in Taiwan in October) In a world where we are all multi-tasking with limited capacity to focus on each other, let alone ideas, the prospect of deep and challenging conversations is very appealing.

Many of us around the world provide training in Open Space Technology. I’m lucky to partner with Brian Bainbridge to deliver training in Melbourne, usually one or twice a year. If you’re interested in our next public training, there’s some info here.

2 Comments so far

  1. What I’ve Noticed on other Blogs | Yes and Space on April 6, 2009 10:43 am

    […] Viv McWaters writes about ‘Open Space Technology as an Operating System for Complexity’ “On the surface, Open Space is a simple process: seat people in a circle, introduce the theme, open the space, allow self-organisation, write some reports, develop some actions, close the circle. Yet it sits on a foundation of deep awareness of how people relate to each other, their passions and their responsibilities. It approaches who is present, and why, when and where they work based on complexity and self-organising systems. It is, indeed, an ‘operating system’ for these tricky, sometimes chaotic, times.” […]

  2. Improv in Facilitating and Parenting | Yes and Space on May 8, 2009 10:36 am

    […] Systems’ … like a lens that everything else in life runs through. Viv describes Open Space as an Operating System here in this […]

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