Open Space workshop or conference

What is it?

The ‘Open Space’ method was first developed by Harrison Owen. He had the idea for this method after a conference. He realised that the really important topics were talked about in the coffee breaks and often with more enthusiasm than in the official program.

An Open Space conference is organised according to a given subject and follows a specific scenario. With regards to content it stays open and the general theme is clear. The participants can bring in content themselves or raise questions about the relevant topics. They are free to choose which workshops they attend and also whether they remain as silent observers or quietly leave. This approach helps people to be more active. The participants write up the results of their workshops. As the conference progresses the results are made accessible to all the participants via photos and reports. This ensures that everyone is fully aware of other discussions.

What results can be produced?

  • A quick but good overview of the subject as seen from the viewpoint of the participants in the conference
  • New perspectives
  • More involvement and support from the participants because they have been able to take initiative

When to use the Open Space method?

  • To collect research questions – Dynamo typically uses this approach at the start of a leadership training program. It helps participants to quickly agree on the criteria of good leadership.
  • To highlight as many different perspectives on a topic as possible – Dynamo uses this in client-orientated projects.
  • To discover policy options and ideas for solutions – Dynamo has supervised the members, representatives and supporters of a political party in forming insight into a good program.


Especially suitable for large groups. Can be used for 8 to 1,000 people. It is better to have more process leaders for larger groups.

Open Space in 30 seconds

Open Space Technology

Funny interview in a taxi with Harrison Owen