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Open Space

Open Space is an exercise which promotes discussion, idea development and development of organizations. It is practised by companies and organizations all around the world.

It works with groups from 10 – 1000 people and because there are no unnecessary rules, it works very well with young people.

It is chaotic, productive and fun.

Every single participant contributes in Open Space with their competence and creativity and everybody has a direct influence on the result of the process.

Open Space was created in the 1980 by Harrison Owen, when he realized that people participating in his conferences loved the coffee breaks more than the lessons and workshops.

In the breaks the participants discussed the really important issues and where often more enthusiastic than during the workshops.

So why not create a meeting inspired by the structure of the coffee break?

The expected learning outcomes for youth workers:
Explain the creative process : identify the creative challenge clearly.
Working with others: listening to each other, Co-operating with others on activities.
Leadership: organize the team.
Motivation: Show commitment to the team, encourage others.
Awareness of other people: show empathy and compassion, can question and challenge others positively.
Negotiation: respect other points of view and opinions; be clear about your goal.
Social skills: be comfortable and relaxed in groups of people, respect cultural differences between people.
Building relationships: collaborate and co-operating with others, work with others towards shared goals and aims, be effective in small and large groups.

The expected learning outcomes for young people :
Self confidence : develop, express and share clear ideas and views, capable of presenting ideas effectively to others.
Positive thinking: understand the importance of positive thinking and positive language, always think “success”.
Adaptability: adapt easily when things change, see new opportunity in change.
Risk taking: be open to try new things.
Setting goals: set short, medium and long term goals, take responsibility for own choices and future.
Decision-making: identify relevant information, weigh up the options available, decide on an outcome, make that outcome happen
Motivation: being inspired to take action, show commitment to the team, encourage others, show commitment to the team, encourage others, personal responsibility
Working with others: participate co-operatively with others, actively collaborate on developing ideas, and engage in creative group work and activities.
Speaking and listening: debate and discuss ideas in small/large groups, explain own ideas and listen to others’ ideas/views, effectively share/present small group ideas to large group.
Experiment with ideas: devise new ideas from stimulus, engage in new techniques for creative thinking, and see more than one option or solution, experiment with ideas in different ways.
Basic mind-mapping of ideas: understand how to map out ideas and thinking, understand how to make connections between ideas, ability to see and understand the “bigger picture”.
Brainstorming and word association: Participate in small/large group brainstorming activities; understand how to use association to generate idea.
Explain the creative process: identify the creative challenge clearly, generate new ideas and/or adapt old ones, apply selection criteria to select best options, develop idea to conclusion
Working with others: listen to each other, co-operating with others on activities, making decisions together, tolerating and respecting others, supporting the team
Verbal communication/reasoning: justify own opinions, be honest and open, critically assess ideas and contributions, engage in meaningful discussion, reach team agreement, ask questions to clarify things

Resumé of exercise

Open Space is an exercise which helps the idea development process when working with large groups of people.
It gives the participants the opportunity to organize themselves within a simple and clear frame, and to contribute to idea development or the solving of complex problems.
Open Space is based on the philosophy that participants will contribute enthusiastically to solve relevant problems or give ideas when they have the chance to organize the work themselves in a simple structure.




"Developed with the support of the European Community, within the framework of the Leonardo da Vinci Programme. The opinions expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Community, nor does it involve any responsibility on its part."