at Work:

A Personal
and Public
Invitation to
Open Space

Michael Herman

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Where and Why to Open Space


Open Space IS APPROPRIATE for:

  • Planning and completing special projects, with or without formally organizing a special project team;
  • Resolving cross-functional questions, with or without formally organizing a cross-functional team or task force;
  • Design and development projects, related to new products, services, processes, customers, standards, or other strategic change or improvement projects;
  • Exploring and addressing a range of cultural issues, including diversity, learning, support, orientation, quality, and the like;
  • Rapid response to business surprises, whether to seize an opportunity or pick up the pieces and get back on track;
  • Creating strategic plans that everybody understands and cares about accomplishing and...
  • Staying on track with strategic check-ins that ensure that the details of the plan are still appropriate and still moving toward successful execution.


Open Space yields IMMEDIATE BENEFITS, including:

  • Experiential, Breakthrough Learning
  • Appropriate Structure and Control
  • Open Communication and a Genuine Sense of Community
  • High Play, High Creativity, High Efficiency, High Productivity
  • Shared Leadership and Personal Responsibility
  • Inspired Performance and Growth from Within
  • Elimination of barriers that get in the way of doing work quickly, with excellence and pride


Open Space IS NOT MAGIC, benefits can evaporate when:

  • Leader(s) believe they already know the answer(s) and are looking for ways to sell or impose those ideas on the rest of the organization;
  • Leader(s) believe that they are the only ones responsible for, or really necessary for, the organization to do its best work;
  • Leader(s) are seeking the appearance of participation, but are unwilling or unable to deal openly and directly with high passion or concern, increasing complexity, real diversity of people or opinions, and/or the urgent need to make decisions and take action.

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Evolution at Work: A Personal Journey and Public Invitation to Open Space, by Michael Herman (www.michaelherman.com)
© Copyright 1998-2000 Michael Herman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reprint or distribute without permission and full attribution, including web address and copyright notice. Permission will be granted gladly if you'll just say what you'd like to copy and where you'd like to share it. [email protected]