Some Non-Profit Organizations have a particular affinity for Open Space. The meeting approach often mirrors many of the values articulated by the organization. I have learned that it is especially important to be clear about the theme and the expected outcomes in these organizations. Volunteers have their sense of meaning at stake when things are opened up, so it is important to develop a clear theme. Some successful uses of Open Space are the following:

Orchestrating Partnerships:

This workshop was initiated by the ALS Society of Canada to engage similar organizations in exploring how to improve their partnerships. Teams from the Allergy & Asthma Information Association, Canadian Best Cancer Network, Canadian Hemophilia Society, Canadian Institute of Health Research, La Leche League of Canada, Lupus Canada, Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association of Canada, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Foundation and the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada in addition to ALS Society all gathered for the weekend conference.  The central component was a day in Open Space.  The reports of those discussions were then used by the teams to chart how they would better orchestrate partnerships.  In fact some new partnerships were formed at the event.

Engaged Strategic Planning:

The board of the United Church of Canada's Observer magazine held a stakeholder's gathering in Open Space to explore options for its future. The event led to new actions on computer technology, clearer funding efforts and active board involvement is setting and monitoring strategic directions.

Engaging “Residents”:

Mainstream Access, serving the differently-abled with housing and support used Open Space Technology for client involvement. With a little extra help, clients eagerly created the agenda and discovered ways to improve the services. They now do this regularly to give direction to services and staffing. One of the residents had not spoken in 5 years until he put up his topic in Open Space.

Consummating Mergers: 

When multiple units of the Anglican Church of Canada were combined into one to cut costs, the frustration and anger of volunteers were turned into possibility thinking and effective action in an Open Space meeting.

Community Economic Development:

Our Local Economy sponsored a three-day Open Space to discover community economic opportunities in Toronto. New business ventures were created and marketing improved for those wanting to do more than listen to speeches.

Networks and Alliances:

Children’s Services from Metropolitan Toronto developed combined training efforts and a computer link at “Better Training Together”, a 1.5 day Open Space. Foster Care providers recently explored cooperation at a similar event.

Spirited Team Work:

The Canadian Cooperative Association of Ontario staff team met for two days in Open Space and discovered a clearer focus and momentum for their work. The then enabled a new mission statement and directions for the Association. The Canadian Cancer Society and National Cancer Research Institute of Canada staff included Open Space in their staff retreat to discover better ways of working together.

Organizational Priorities and Culture: 

Canada Health Infoway: Executive Planning Retreat and a Directors Forum in Open Space

Canadian Institute for Health Information: Executive Planning Retreat, Managers Forum in Open Space, Canadian Population Health Institute Obesity Think Tank in Open Space, CIHI-CPHI Executive Strategy

Canadian Institute of Health Research: Colorectal Cancer Research Initiative -: Open Space & Strategic Planning