Open Space (also known as Open Space Technology or OST) is a method for convening groups around a specific question or task or importance and giving them responsibility for creating both their own agenda and experience. It is best used when at least a half to two full days are available. The facilitator's key task is to identify the question that brings people together, offer the simple process, then stand back and let participants do the work. The process is admirably described in a number of languages at http://www.openspaceworld.org .
“Open Space works best when the work do be done is complex, the people and ideas involved are diverse, the passion for resolution (and potential for conflict) are high, and the time to get it done was yesterday. It's been called passion bounded by responsibility, the energy of a good coffee break, intentional self-organization, spirit at work, chaos and creativity, evolution in organization, and a simple, powerful way to get people and organizations moving – when and where it's needed most.
And, while Open Space is known for its apparent lack of structure and welcoming of surprises, it turns out that the Open Space meeting or organization 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 blocking) best work. In fact, the stories and workplans woven in Open Space are generally more complex, more robust, more durable – and can move a great deal faster than expert- or management-driven designs.”
From Openspace World:
What will happen?
We never know exactly what will happen when we open the space for people to do their most important work, but we can guarantee these results when any group gets into Open Space: