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Open Space is a meeting format used to create opportunities for people to engage deeply and creatively around issues of concern to them. It is a simple and powerful way to catalyze effective working conversations in times of change. Open Space can be used in almost any context and with groups of 10 to 1,000. 


  1. The group convenes in a circle and is welcomed by the sponsor. 
  2. The facilitator provides an overview of the process and explains how it works. 
  3. The facilitator then invites people with issues of concern to come into the circle, write the issue on a piece of paper, and announce it to the group. These people are conveners.
  4. The convener places their paper on the wall and chooses a time and a place to meet. This process continues until there are no more agenda items. The group then breaks up and heads to the agenda wall, by now covered with a variety of sessions. Participants take note of the time and place for sessions they want to be involved in.  
  5. Dialogue sessions convene for the remainder of the meeting. Recorders determined by each group capture the important points and post the reports on the news wall. 
  6. Following a closing or a break, the group might move into convergence, taking the issues that have been discussed and attaching action plans to them to “get them out of the room.”
  7. The group then finishes the meeting with a closing circle where people are invited to share comments, insights, and commitments arising from the process.


  • It’s important to give enough time and space for several sessions to occur. The amount of time will vary and there isn’t an exact science to it – generally allow 20, 40, 0r 60 minutes per session depending on the depth of the topics and the group.
  • Conveners and folks setting the agenda should be the people with the power and desire to see their topics through. 
  • Consider what you hope for the attendees to leave with as a way to shape up the approach to documentation.   
  • The lasting power of this approach is in the documentation methods that are used, from personal structured note taking to detailed proceedings of the event. 


Downloads & Links

Open Space PDF
Open Space Example: Stakeholder Engagement
Open Space: Example Book of Reports (compiled for participants)
Art of Hosting: Open Space