Open space technology

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Open space technology is a participation method aiming to provide an event which is relevant, timely, and participatory. Its relevance is determined by the participants, who determine the agenda, the length of the event, and the outcomes.


  • Determine whether the open space technology process is the most appropriate technique for your situation, considering the people who are likely to take part and their preferences and attitudes, and the venues available to you.
  • Select venue, facilitators and prepare information (open space technology can be successfully used in conjunction with other techniques such as conferences and workshops).
  • Publicise the event.
  • Describe process and rules to the participants, as outlined below:
  • Principles: Whoever comes are the right people: Whatever happens is the only thing that could have: Whenever it starts is the right time: When it’s over, it’s over.
  • Law of two feet: people are honour bound to walk away from proceedings and sessions which they believe are irrelevant.
  • Follow due process.
  • One by one, each person who wishes to, steps into the centre of the circle and announces their name and topics they feel passionate enough about to be willing to lead a break out session on that topic.
  • Each passionate person writes the topic on a piece of paper along with time and venue for a discussion.
  • Following announcements of topics by passionate people, the market place becomes open. The marketplace is a wall where all the topics, times and venues are posted to allow participants to decide which session to sign up to.
  • Those who announced the topics facilitate the individual discussions and appoint people to record minutes on provided computers.
  • Reconvene into the larger group and report back, or combine reports into one document and ensure widespread dissemination to all those who took part, and all those likely to make a decision.


The Brisbane (Australia) Social forum (2002 and 2003) and the World Social Forum (2002 and 2003) in Brazil are two cases where OST was successfully applied. These example highlights the capability of the this participatory method to be easily applicable for few participants (20 persons) up to thousands of people.


Open space technology guide

The author of this article is UNIVE team
The article has been reviewed by Plan Bleu and PAP/RAC
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.