Open Space

The beating heart of the conference, where YOU create the content

What is ‘Open Space’?

 Open Space is where the magic happens! It is about harnessing the power of the attendees, people with various expertise, diverse interests & skills and creates space for peer-to-peer learning, collaboration and creativity.


During Open Space, participants, with the help of a facilitator create their own agenda of parallel working sessions around a central theme of strategic importance. Our Theme is:

  • MyData looking ahead to the next year

  • The future of MyData Movement

  • Growing the MyData Movement


Why Open Space?

Based on the feedback of MyData 2017 participants, the un-conference style sessions were really uplifting and insightful to many of the attendees. This year we wish to give even more space for emerging questions and burning topics that are not addressed in the actual programme. Open Space is an opportunity for ANYONE set a topic, gather a group, and work on it!



How will Open Space work?

Open Space is simple.

  1. Go to Agenda setting – you will have the opportunity to name the topic you want to discuss, question you would like answers to, idea you want to organize around.

  2. During lunch time, go to see the agenda wall and decide which topic discussion to join in the afternoon sessions.

  3. Discuss for one hour or as long as you wish (don’t forget to gather inputs!)

  4. End the discussion and return the starting room


Open Space has several core principles that make it work:


  • Whoever comes are the right people

  • Whenever it starts, is the right time

  • When it’s over, it’s over

  • Whatever happens, is the only thing that could have

  • The law of motion and responsibility – if you are not learning or contributing it is your responsibility to respectfully find some place that you are.


Remember there is no complaining at the end of the day that something you wanted to discuss was not covered. It is your responsibility to name it during the agenda creation process and get it on the agenda. You do not need to be an expert to call a session, you just have to have interest and the willingness to convene.


A little bit more about Sessions from How to Prepare for an Unconference


You do not need to do preparation in order to convene a session. If you get an idea the day of the event, call a session.

There is no ‘right way’ to lead a session. However there is a bias towards interaction and discussion.

Choose a format for your session will help you achieve your vision.

Following are a few ideas about different session types to get you thinking about possibilities.


Types of sessions

  • The longer formal presentation – This is tricky, because it’s difficult to make a formal presentation interactive. But if you have a big, well-developed idea you can pull it off.

  • A short presentation to get things started – 5-15 minutes of prepared material/comments by the session leader followed by an interactive discussion

  • Group discussion- Someone identifies a topic they are interested in, others come to join the conversation and an interesting discussion happens

  • My Big (or Little) Question – You have a question you want to know the answer to, and you think others in the group could help you answer it. This format could also just be the seed of a conversation.

  • Show and tell – You have a cool project, a demo, or just something to show and let people play with that is the springboard for all the conversation in the session. Alternatively, you can invite others to bring their own items to show and tell (perhaps with a theme), and everyone takes a turn sharing.

  • Learn how to do X – If you’re inclined to teach, this can be simple and effective. Bring the equipment that you need, and have a plan that will let you teach five, ten, or 15 people how to do something all at the same time.

Do take photos of different elements of your program so you can share them with others either at sessions you lead or in other sessions.


Advice about leading a session…

  • If you convene a session, it is your responsibility to “hold the space” for your session. You hold the space by leading a discussion, by posting a “first question,” or by sharing information about your program. Be the shepherd – stay visible, be as involved as necessary, be a beacon of sanity that guides the group.

  • Ask for help holding the space if you need it. You might, for example, put a session on the board and know that you are so passionate about the topic that it would be better if someone else, someone more objective, facilitates the discussion. Choose someone from your team, or another participant who is interested in the topic.

  • Don’t assume people in the room know more, or less, than you do. You never know who is going to be interested in your session. You might want to start by asking people to hold up their hands if they’ve been involved with the topic for more than five years, for one to five years, or for one year or less.

  • Don’t be upset if only two people show up to your session. Those two people are the ones who share your interest.

  • Don’t feel that you have to “fill” up an hour of time. If what you have to say only takes 15 min and the group has finished interacting–then the session can end. At the start of the conference, we will discuss guidelines for how this can happen.

  • Don’t feel pressure to have everything take “only” an hour. If you start with a short presentation, and then a group conversation gets going, and your discussion needs to continue past an hour – find a way to make this happen. You might be able to keep talking for awhile in the room you are in, or move to another part of the conference area, or post “Part 2” on the agenda  At the start of the conference, we will discuss guidelines for how this can happen.

  • Be Brave! Others are interested in making your session work!

  • Do think about the ideas that you want to cover in your session, and how you want to cover them. But don’t feel as though you need to prepare a great deal. (If you’re over-prepared, your session might lose energy.)

  • Experiment with the kind of sessions you lead. There is no such thing as “failue” an an unconference.