What is "Open Space Facilitation"?
Open Space Technology is meeting or conference format, and is an incredible tool for drawing knowledge from groups of people, developing action plans, and creating space for the conversations that need to occur. Its flexibility means it can be used for small groups or large conferences. Based on the principle of self-organizing systems, the facilitator helps the group develop and organize the session topics, and individuals who suggest topics agree to host the conversations. In a fluid process, the group creates a conference meeting agenda - complete with "streams" - and individuals select which conversations they will attend.
Open Space promotes innovation, problem solving, networking and collaboration.
If you're tired of attending meetings or conferences with a "talking head", this highly interactive meeting format could change the way you think about conferences! If you've ever experienced the "amazing conversation in the hallway" at a conference, and come home thinking how glad you were to meet an individual and have a chance to learn from his/her experience, imagine the power of involving all the knowledge in the room in the conversations!
The Power of the Circle. I first learned about Open Space in 2006, when I was coordinating a conference on FASD. When we were discussing session topics, a member of the Advisory Group suggested we consider using an Open Space format for the conference. The concept intrigued me, so I read "Open Space Technology - A User's Guide" by Harrison Owen. The magic of google brought me to the Open Space World website, which has a wealth of information and resources on Open Space. This in turn led me to the Open Space Institute of Canada, which has a listing of Open Space facilitators in Canada, as well as other resources.
The conference came together as an Open Space event, and on March 8 & 9, 2006, almost 200 people from around northern BC congregated in Prince George to attend, "Working Together: A Round Table on FASD Prevention and Intervention for Northern BC". Chris Corrigan facilitated the event, along with Chris Robertson. I left that conference convinced that I wanted to add Open Space facilitation to my toolkit. In 2008, I attended the "Art of Hosting", a four day workshop on Open Space Facilitation. This workshop/retreat was hosted by Chris Corrigan, Tenneson Woolf, Monica Nissen, Caitlin Frost, and David Stevenson. I've never looked back.