Leahy Associates, Inc.


The explanation you’ve been waiting for...

Open Space is an incredible meeting technology developed by Harrison Owens in the 1970's. Harrison observed the tendency for people to self-organize into groups so he created a process that facilitates a high degree of spontaneity, choice and personal responsibility.

Open Space works like this:

We are challenging participants to come prepared to present on topics of their expertise or to be ready to request sessions from others who may have a skill or experience that they need.

On Monday morning we will surface potential session topics, expertise and questions. Tom will cover the necessary details and boundaries that make this technology work.

There are (4) four types of sessions:

Presentation: A session by a person with expertise who has come prepared to do a session, perhaps even including handouts, overheads, videos, props, etc...

Workshop: A session by a person with expertise who may be responding to a request by another participant. While this type of session may not be as polished as the "presentation" above, these tend to be passionate and frank opportunities for the sharing of information.

Discussion: This type of session is much more free form. The convener agrees to facilitate a discussion by a group of participants who have chosen to meet to share their experiences or voice their concerns on a particular topic.

Fun Stuff: Games, activities, ice breakers, new stuff, old stuff, with or without props, etc...The only requirement here is that it's active and fun.

The (4) four types of sessions allow participants to attend the topic and type of session that best fits their needs. Once in a session, participants are encouraged to choose to move to a different session if the one they selected is not meeting their needs. The permission to leave a session and then create a new offering through Open Space to meet a more specific learning goal gives "personal responsibility" a whole new meaning in this conference setting. If at the end of the scheduled session, the participants and the presenter wish to continue with the topic, they have several choices:

  1. They can ask for an open room and simply move the session and keep going.
  2. They can schedule a "Part 2" for the topic when we meet for Open Space the next morning.

Tuesday and Wednesday we meet again at 8:00 am as a large group and things get really exciting! New sessions are created! Part 2 sessions are added! Initiatives and games sessions are added! We negotiate with presenters to repeat a session or we rework a time block on the schedule to ensure that interest conflicts get resolved. The most amazing part of this process is that participants learn that they can create what they need!

A Call for Presenters!

Clear your mind and ask yourself these questions...

  1. What burning questions or topics do I want addressed?
  2. What areas of expertise can I offer to my peers?
  3. Do I have a presentation or workshop that I would be willing to offer?

It really works!

Leahy & Associates, Inc. • 7013 Roaring Fork Trail • Boulder, Colorado 80301 USA
phone: 303-673-9832 • fax: 303-604-1901      © 2018 Leahy & Associates, Inc.
Photo credits: Michael Peterson, Jeff Chow, Rick Thompson, Paul Cummings, and Tom Leahy.