The Open Space Technology is an innovative methodology, effective and highly participatory, based on conferences and meetings, where participants divided into groups of 5 to a maximum of 2000 people can be free to offer arguments, to propose and discuss between them during these meetings.
This methodology was developed by the American expert in organizational science, Harrison Owen, in the mid ‘80s. From his vast experience in organizing conferences, he noted that people face each other with much enthusiasm during the coffee breaks rather than in working phases. From this reflection he proposes a series of meetings that can last one, two or even three days, organized into three phases:
1. The first part requires an informal discussion, trying to create a friendly atmosphere where you can share different points of view can be shared;
2. In the second part, the theme of the first phase is discussed in depth;
3. In the third and final part, decisions are made and the report is written, on the work done by the groups.
At the end of the meeting days a summary document called “instant report” is produced, to clearly state the commitments made and conclusions are reached. The Open Space Technology is based on 4 principles and one law. The principles are:
1. Whoever comes is the right people
2. Whenever it starts, it is the right time
3. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened
4. When it’s over, it’s over
The only law that regulates the Open Space Technology is the “law of two feet“: if at any time during the time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet, go someplace else. This way when one of the participants is not interested in some topic or does not believe in it, they can be useful in another group where their presence will be more appreciated and interesting. This method provides a better quality and work efficiency.