Time slots are:

  • Thursday – 16.00
  • Friday – 15.30

Open Space is a powerful tool for engaging people in discussions to explore particular questions or issues. It draws out all those who are really passionate about a subject.

This session will be a small version of the Open Space Technology which was created in the mid-1980s by organizational consultant Harrison Owen. Not that this will happen in our conference(!!) but he discovered that people attending his conferences loved the coffee breaks better than the formal presentations and plenary sessions. Combining that insight with his experience of life in an African village, Owen created a totally new form of conferencing.

Open Space builds on a co-production methodology. Throughout the 2 days delegates will be asked to consider areas that they would like to explore further – these are shared on the conference notice board alongside a room number. People then can sign up and join the whirlwind of activity which is guided from within by a handful of simple Open Space principles.

The most basic principle is that everyone who comes to an Open Space conference must be passionate about the topic and willing to take some responsibility for creating things out of that passion.

Four other key principles are:

  1. Whoever comes is the right people.
  2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
  3. Whenever it starts is the right time.
  4. When it is over it is over.

And the principle of The Law of Two Feet: – “If you find yourself in a situation where you aren’t learning or contributing, go somewhere else.” This law causes flitting from group to group Owen considers this being like bumblebees because they cross-pollinate across the groups. But also the The Law of Two Feet enable people to off and sit by themselves. Owen likens them to butterflies, “because they create quiet centres of non-action for stillness, beauty, novelty or random conversations to be born”.


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