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Supporting leaders, organizations and communities to serve their higher purpose

Flow of Open Space

Before the Event

Invitation to participate in the Open Space  

Describe purpose of the event, such as the opportunity to participate in shaping the future of your organization by creatively taking initiative and to be inspired by the dynamics of self-organization and the diversity of sessions proposed by participants.

If timing is right, disclose organizing question, such as, "What are the issues and opportunities for increasing the capacity of our organization or community?"

Dedicated volunteer team organizes a seamless flow of logistics.

During the Event

Opening the Space

Participants sit in concentric circles with a large open space in the middle.  Paper, markers and one microphone are the only items in the center

Real-time documenters capture in photos, graphics and captions, the action throughout the OST event.

Facilitator walks the circle while welcoming participants and introducing Open Space by describing the process, principles, and convening question.  Basic tenets: Individual and group creativity, freedom to choose level and scope of involvement, responsibility and accountability bound by caring and belonging to the "whole", as represented in the group.

Participants write topics that are most meaningful to them in the context of the convening question on large pieces of paper and then use the mike to announce their breakout session.  150 to 200 topics might be announced in an event with up to 2,500 participants.


After all topics have been announced, hosts may choose to combine their sessions to accommodate the number of spaces available for meeting.

Participants review the discussion sessions to choose which breakout groups they will attend

Breakout Sessions

Hosts convene their sessions in the breakout space they have chosen at the time they have chosen. 

Hosts or reporters hand write their summaries on report forms or enter their notes in the computer templates.

Two to six breakout sessions can be held each day depending on time available

Data Documentation

Each session host completes their real-time documentation. by entering their session notes in the computer template.

As the session notes are completed, copies are printed and posted on the walls.

A "Book of Proceedings" is distributed to all participants for review.


If time and intention permit, the space can be re-opened for action after participants have read the Book of Proceedings.

For shorter events, participants gather in the closing circle.


Large group reconvenes in concentric circles to share their key learnings and next steps.

After the Event 

If desired, we can work with documenters to prepare whole event summaries to be disseminated to event participants.



    Christine Whitney Sanchez - Principal - IPI Southwest

    © 2017 Christine Whitney Sanchez 

    Innovation Partners International of the Southwest LLC (IPI Southwest) is a proud member of Innovation Partners International, a social enterprise network.

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