Book review: Open Space Technology

If you want to read about open Space Technology, this book is the only place to start. Harrison Owen who came up with the concept, explains the practicalities and the history of Open Space meetings in his usual clear, engaging and entertaining way.

Open Space meetings are characterized by their ability to consistently create the right background for incredible achievements. They are amazingly efficient and they also create enthusiasm, stimulate the open exchange of ideas and avert most conflicts. To me, Open Space is the meeting form that most acknowledges us as independent, self-reliant humans capable of taking responsility for ourselves and others.

This book explains every detail needed to hold your own Open Space meetings. Invitations, the place, the pace, the people and the little tibetan temple bells. I know is sounds weird but they work, you can get 200 peoples attention (in a nice way) with two small bells.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in better meetings, which ought to include many people. What the book cannot tell you (no book could) is what it’s like to be a part of an OS meeting. The amazing energy. The buzz. Seeing people take leadership and ownership. The deep and honest exchange of ideas. The amazing results. For this, you need to try an OS meeting yourself. Here’s one.

Owen ends the book with a nonconclusion, from which the following quote is taken:
In another time and another place, it might have been well to heed the voice of caution and wait until all the results were in. But my natural impatience, combined with a growing conviction that Open Space Technology does work and does do some good in our crazy fragmented world, drives me to the conclusion that action research is the only way. Do it. Think about it. Do it again ? better. Please join me.

I couldn’t agree more.

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