How Does the “Open Space” Process Work?

How Does the “Open Space” Process Work?

Open Space Process

The best way to describe the “Open Space” process is a daylong “coffee break” where participants will create the agenda and work together. Each participant will be able to propose and co‐lead all the conversations they want to have with those participants interested in the same issues for as long as they desire‐‐no lectures, no conference tracks, no speakers, no time limits, no predetermined set of issues, only those issues that matter most to them.

During the “Open Space” process, you and participants from the local community will set the agenda by identifying specific topics and issues that are important to the community and that should be highlighted and addressed in a session or sessions during the summit. Your active participation throughout the entire day is expected to ensure that the “Open Space” process works to the maximum benefit of all participants — including identifying initiatives/issues for community action after the summit.

Your Role During the Open Space Process:

During the open space process, you will be asked to take the lead in proposing/moderating a session or sessions regarding an initiative or topic raised by participants. Bring your programs, initiatives, and priorities to the table that would benefit the community. Be prepared to do some follow‐up, problem solving and listening to concerns, ideas, or projects that you can assist with in the community. Once again, your involvement throughout the conference is absolutely essential.

Principles of the “Open Space” Process

  • Whoever comes are the right people. You don’t need the CEO or hundreds of people, just those that care.
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have. Let go of expectations; could, should, whatever it is, is; work with it.
  • When it starts, it starts. When it’s over, it’s over. Done in 10 minutes? Great, move on to something else.
  • “Law of 2 Feet.” If at any time, you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet and go someplace else. All participants are given both the right and the responsibility to maximize their own learning and contribution.

Open Space Outcomes:

  • The issues that are most important to people will get discussed.
  • The issues raised will be addressed by the participants best capable of getting something done about them.
  • All of the most important ideas, recommendations, discussions, and next steps will be documented.
  • When sufficient time is allowed, content will be prioritized by the group.
  • Participants will feel engaged and energized by the process.

The event is free of charge, but pre-event registration is required because space is limited. Please fill out the online formal request to participate. For more information, please contact Colleen Moore at or 313-993-1047.