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Open Space Technology was discovered by Harrison Owen as a better way to unleash the power of self-organization in teams, organizations, and communities. The Open Space Institute of the United States (OSI-US) believes that inspired behavior can be an everyday experience and that humanity is limited by its perceptions of the possible. The OSI-US was created to grow that sense of possibility and make it a reality by focusing on: learning, research and practice.

Opening Space for Peace and High Performance 2015

Opening Space for Peace and High Performance

at Work and in Life:

Navigating Chaos, Confusion and Conflict

International House, New York City

January 16-18, 2015

There are times when we can hardly make sense of the world. We see the issues swirling around us. We sometimes can feel the pain and fear that hovers in plain sight or is hidden from view. With each passing day, there seem to be more distractions, greater complexity and fewer simple solutions. And yet here we all are, still optimistic, hopeful, and no less determined to make a difference.

Whether your passion is the world of work, community, environment, peace in the world or living life to the fullest, we invite you to join an intrepid and diverse group of individuals united in their desire to fully engage in the big questions of life with others.

Each year, for many years, people have gathered, from different sectors and often from very far away. Inevitably when they leave, they comment on the gifts that they gave themselves – especially, a gift of time well-spent. Deeper insights, new learnings, a feeling of peace, more reflective or more energized around the issues that matter most to them!

For some it will be the shift to self-management that will interest them in a world where hierarchy and hero leadership still seem to dominate; for others, it will be the primal force of self-organization.

We believe it is time to recognize that we, our organizations, as indeed the entire cosmos – are all self-organizing systems. And rather than viewing these forces as a threat or something to control, we are already experiencing the greater power of self-organization and learning to leverage that power.

Can we be highly productive and peaceful at the same time? Can organizations produce exhilarating performance in peaceful environments?

The 29-year natural experiment that is Open Space Technology (OST) has demonstrated no less than 300,000 times or more, in 146 countries with groups of 5 to 3500 that it is not only possible but predictable and highly probable. We can be hugely productive. We can be peacefully present.

Some people have viewed the results as counterintuitive, unbelievable, and have even called it magic. The results continue; however, the “magic” is not Open Space Technology. Rather it is the force that underlies it – the power of self-organization.

You are invited to experience and learn to apply this age old force of High Performance and Peace as we engage, explore and deepen our understanding around this question:

Will we Learn to Ride the Creative/Chaotic Waves of Self-Organization, unleashing the power of leadership in ourselves and in others?



The Program will unfold over 3 days. On Day I anyone who cares to learn the fundamentals of OST facilitation or to become more comfortable with facilitating is invited. This first day focuses on the essentials for opening space with any group, including core principles, the planning process, when to use Open Space, action approaches, and role and behavior of the facilitator. Practice during Days II-III will increase your proficiency.

Days II – III: The design for each of the following two days is identical. In the morning, Harrison Owen, the originator of OST, will offer reflections on “Creating the conditions for Peace and High Performance” and on the final day “Opening Space in our Lives, our Organizations and our World”. The balance of each day will be in dialogue with others in open space. We will all be teachers. We will all be learners. At the conclusion you will have a compendium of materials (online) to remind you of your experience and to support you in your new ventures.

If you are specifically interested in the facilitation of OST, the first day of the program is essential, as well as reading Harrison Owen’s Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide and viewing a video of a telephone company, OST at US West, (16 minutes): Other recommendations are Harrison Owen’s TedX talk: and his books The Practice of Peace and The Wave Rider: Leadership for High Performance


  Corporate Nonprofit/Individual
January 16-18 (3 days) $750 $500
January 17-18 (2 days) $500 $335
January 18 (1 day) $250 $170

Fees include lunches, coffee breaks and materials.

Note: Our desire is to include all who wish to participate. If your budget does not fit the stated fees, please contact Karen at 1-212-595-9107 or


Harrison Owen: Harrison is President of H.H.Owen and Co. His academic background and training centered on the nature and function of myth, ritual and culture. In the middle '60s, he left academe to work with a variety of organizations including small West African villages, urban (American and African) community organizations, Peace Corps, Regional Medical Programs, National Institutes of Health, and Veterans Administration. Along the way he discovered that his study of myth, ritual and culture had direct application to these social systems. In 1979 he created H.H.Owen and Company in order to explore the culture of organizations in transformation as a theorist and practicing consultant. Harrison convened the First International Symposium on Organization Transformation, and is the originator of Open Space Technology. He is the author of Spirit: Transformation and Development in Organizations, Leadership Is, Riding the Tiger, Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide, The Millennium Organization, Tales From Open Space, Expanding Our Now: The Story of Open Space Technology, The Spirit of Leadership: Liberating the Leader in Each of Us, The Power of Spirit: How Organizations Transform, The Practice of Peace and Wave Rider: Leadership for High Performance in a Self-Organizing World.

Karen J. Davis: Karen, a consultant with organizations globally, is committed to enhancing the health, effectiveness, and joy of human systems. She is dedicated to building global community through working and learning with colleagues throughout the world. For a decade Karen was graduate faculty in Santiago de Chile. She is part of the leadership of the International Organization Development Association and has been on the board of the Organization Development Network. Karen serves on the boards of Open Space Institute of US, as well as on boards of community and cultural organizations. Karen is a co-author in The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook. She has been involved with Open Space since before its naming. When not traveling or working around the world, she lives in New York City, returning regularly to her native Arizona. Summers, she is on her farm in rural Quebec, Canada. Karen describes herself as a gardener and a world citizen.

Open Space Institute US: OSI-US holds space for Open Space and serves by: providing access to resources on Open Space; connecting individuals and groups to inform, inspire, mentor, and sustain each other in opening and holding space; and being an inclusive learning community. We believe that inspired behavior can be an everyday experience and that humanity is limited by its perceptions of the possible. The OSI was created to grow that sense of possibility and make it a reality by focusing on: learning, research and practice.


Musing from our Membership Meeting

If you want to do a deep dive, the annual membership meeting notes and even the full audio are available. We did not use Open Space Technology, but instead kept to an agenda with wide ranging check-ins followed by two questions: How did OST impact the evolution of your own consciousness? What's happening with world wide open space institutes? And then we closed with check-outs.

What stands out? One board member was not present due to the illness in her family, and two who were present had immanent births upcoming. Several were excited about what was showing up in the Occupy movement, and how it is opening conversations very relevant for Open Space Technology.

For the personal question around consciousness it touched on personal evolution of letting go of control and fixed answers, of opening up to the infinite divine world where prayer, mystics and shamans are comfortable, of synthesizing and going deeper into what we and who we already know, and being a servant leader and a mid-wife. Open Space Technology is life changing, and changes our relationships with ourselves and others. We can see Open Space is, like birth, an event, and yet it is also a philosophy - about taking responsibility for what we love as an act of service. And how Open Space Technology is often a part of a journey that includes and touches on other philosphies and practices, such as Theory U, Appreciative Inquiry, and Transpersonal Psychology, and Gestalt.

Around the question of Open Space Institutes around the world, we had representation for the U.S., U.K., and France. The WOSonOS coming up in 2012 has already been touching on the question of having an Institute in the U.K., but there is no decision to have one as it is unclear what is the purpose and process around these institutes. As a community of practice internationallly, what needs to happen. Should they be called institutes that compare car insurance quotes? The Institute in France dissolved due to power struggles an in part the lack of clarity of the purpose and mission. Yet the OSI-US has managed to succeed by not imposing hiearchy and instead has been a mutually supportive space. And although there is some question about how to do it, it does seem important that we find a way to continue coming together to keep the conversation alive globally and to hold space for open space, despite the legacy we have of divide and conquer that makes it so hard for us to collaborate on coming to solutions that can address what we need.

Open Space 'New Women For New Egypt'

See how Open Space Technology has been used in Egypt after the revolution in the wonderful short video.

Expenses and Activities 2011

Our income in 2011 was $3,350 in donations, $1.19 in interest, and $259.27 in book sales.

Our expenses were $44.64 in PayPal fees, $130.83 in internet domain registration and Skype charges, $10 for the annual filing fee for the non-profit, $1000 for the Access Queen assistance to the World Open Space on Open Space in Chile, $3,250 to Haiti Partners for their Open Space event, and $700 for an in person meeting for the board (all of which was paid for in donations by the board).

If you tallied that up, that was $3,619.46 income, and $5,135.47 expense, with a net $1,525.01 outflow. Our total assets are as of 30 December 2011 equal to $3,771.04.

As for activities this year, we welcomed Barry Owen to the board - bringing our board membership to 10.

Beyond the individual Open Space Technology contributions and involvement of all the board members, which would be interesting but extensive - the board itself has contributed to the maintenance and development of OST with the following activities:

  • Support of world wide Open Space Technology meetings financially through Haiti Partners and Access Queen.
  • Financial support and 501(c)(3) status for free web hosting of the very active world wide OSList's migration from Boise State's ListServ to GNU Mailman.
  • Significant improvements to our web presence at
  • Assistance to the English translation of the beautiful Open Space Learning Map poster.
  • Initial meetings and design of a new logo for the Open Space Institute - U.S.
  • A face to face meeting, with all meal, housing, and travel expenses donated by the board members, held in Sarasota, Florida to connect with each other and renew the mission of the Open Space Institute.

US West Open Space - A True Story

Enjoy this historical video of an Open Space event held at US West in 1995 which helps describe what Open Space is, how it works, and the impact through the lens of some real issues at a real company. Thank you Peggy Holman for making this video available!

U S WEST Open Space from Peggy Holman on Vimeo.

Support Open Space Institute of Haiti

Dear Friends and Colleagues

The purpose of this letter is to invite our Open Space colleagues and OS Institute partners around the world to join us in a show of support for the Open Space Institute of Haiti who will be hosting their 10th Annual Open Space on Open Space June 23-26, 2011.  Their theme will be:  “What tools and practices do Haitians need to become agents of change in their communities?”

For a number of years, the OSI US has donated funds to Haiti to help pay for lodging and meals. In 2010, we contributed a more sizeable sum recognizing the urgent need for OS work in Haiti following the catastrophic hurricane.  

This year, we again received a request for financial assistance in the amount of $3250.  A number of local Haiti sponsors are also contributing.  While we have limited funds, we feel strongly that this work deserves our help - thus the idea of this Matching Fund Campaign.

We will match $dollar for $dollar to a maximum of $1625 to help them achieve their goal of raising $3250 total dollars.  If we raise excess funds from this campaign, it would be the intent of the OSI US Institute to make these funds available to serve other underserved communities through vehicles such as the Access Queen which helps lower-income individuals attend World Open Space on Open Space events or through other initiatives that OSI US is involved in that support access, inclusion and connection to the greater OS community.

As we honor their ten years of facilitating, mentoring, teaching and growing Open Space across Haiti, we are appealing to you - our worldwide OS community of friends and colleagues - to join us with a “pay it forward” matching initiative.  For every dollar you contribute - we will match it as we join together to help enable 25 Haitian participants to attend Haiti's OSonOS this year. This matching donation campaign will end on May 15, 2011.

In 2010, 78 people attended the OSonOS - many of them new to Open Space. Their theme last year was:  “What is the role of leaders and community organizations in the reconstruction of a new Haiti, based on the promotion of progress and social justice?” - which generated topics such as these:

  • What are the needs of community organizations for the reconstruction of Haiti?
  • What is the role of Haitians in Haiti’s reconstruction?
  • What results can we expect from using Open Space in communities?
  • How can we help grassroots organizations in the economic and social development of the communities in which they work?
Open Space has been an important process for transformational change in Haiti for many years. Our Open Space colleagues Fremy Cesar and John Engle - along with many others in the Haitian facilitator and educator community - have been using, teaching and sharing open Space to help Haitians help themselves.

For more information and photos, please visit the website of Haiti Partners, one of the funding agencies.  You will see that Fremy and John are part of this and other similar groups in Haiti involved in this work. Take a look at how Open Space is being used across Haiti. At the second link below, you will also see some photos of Haitian butterflies, bumblebees and the Law of Two Feet !


The comments below by Haitians speak volumes about the benefits of these sponsored Open Space events:

"The experience I had with Open Space has fueled my dream to see Open Space to practice throughout Haiti. It is the only method that can facilitate a true community mobilization, an important factor in the economic and social development in Haiti”.
-- Benaja Antoine
"After participating in the Open Space in June 2010, it inspired me to form an association of twenty-height women, for whom I did training on risks and disasters. I am very motivated to use the Open Space method because it is a method that creates a dynamic of participation.
With Open Space, I learned to cultivate the spirit of tolerance, participation, how to help people to live together cooperatively”.
-- Norestin Nellie
"Open Space is a method which can play an important role in Haitian society.  Haiti has been in slavery for a great number of years; it takes a lot of time for such a nation to become educated in the right way and I think the OS method can do much in helping to achieve that goal."
-- Marie Kerline Janvier

We invite you to join us in celebrating the amazing work that has been done in Open Space in Haiti over this past decade by contributing a small or larger donation to support the upcoming Open Space event which will enable many individuals to progress in new ways on their important projects.

Appreciatively, the OSI US Institute Board Members,


Suzanne DaigleKaren Davis
Douglas D. Germann Sr.Lisa Heft
Peggy HolmanEdward Laboy
Phelim McDermottBarry Owen
Christine Whitney SanchezHarold Shinsato


Girl Scouts National Convention - Large Open Space

Over 1400 convened one of the largest Open Space Technology events in North America when the Girl Scouts 50th National Convention met in 2005. This video documented the experience including interviews with leaders and girl scouts about how self-organizing Open Space Technology enlivened their convention.

Connected - A Nationwide Conversation - Girl Scouts & Open Space Technology from Open Space Institute-US on Vimeo.

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