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About Open Space

Page history last edited by Hillary Johnson 13 years, 5 months ago

Bring together a group of folks, empower them to blaze their own trail, create just enough structure to ensure progress, and hit the Start button – that’s Open Space Technology, a style of self-organized “un-conference” that reflects the spirit and ethos of Agile.


Organizational consultant Harrison Owen originated Open Space in the mid-80s, after he observed--during a conference he had organized--that most of the really meaningful conversations and active learning seemed to take place outside of the formal presentations. Since then, groups of 5 to 2000 members across a host of disciplines have used Open Space meetings to address complex and varied themes from how to build a software product to how to deliver aid to Africa.


In the practice of Open Space, participants gather together with only a stated “Theme” and a minimal framework. Their goal is to build the conference they want to attend: Individuals propose sessions they’d like to lead, or sessions they’d like to see someone else step up and lead. Through the alchemy of self-organization, a schedule emerges, composed of sessions people feel passionate about pursuing.


Like Agile itself, Open Space Technology is built on a set of guiding principles and can appear deceptively simple at first glance — a phenomenon familiar to any scrum practitioner. As noted in Open Space World, “…while Open Space is known for its apparent lack of structure and welcoming of surprises, it turns out that the Open Space is actually very structured – but that structure is so perfectly fit to the people and the work at hand, that it goes unnoticed in its proper role of supporting (not impeding) best work.”


To learn more about the history and practice of Open Space Technology, see:


Open Space World - http://www.openspaceworld.org/

Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide by Harrison Owen


The Agile Open California Organizing Team

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