The Open Space Fishbowl – A new way to an energised conversation

Posted by  Andrew Rixon —December 7, 2006
Filed in Anecdotes

A few months ago Larry Peterson and I discovered and tested a great way to apply the Principles and Law of Open Space Technology to a “fishbowl” to create a dynamic, energized conversation with a whole room of almost 200 people in a short time frame.

Some of the participants said:

“I really enjoyed the openness of the fishbowl, next time I will be in there swimming.”

“We were pleasantly surprised with the number of participants willing to brave the fishbowl, and even more so with the conversation that followed. This was a format that engaged those within the fishbowl to offer the type of forthright commentary that may not have surfaced in another meeting format”.

Thanks to Larry we have put pen to paper and written about our experience, including the approach we have named the Open Space Fishbowl.

Download a copy of: The Open Space Fishbowl

About  Andrew Rixon


  1. Hi Andrew: Hey, that sounds an excellent experiment, and thanks for a clear write up. I’m not quite clear about the role of the 5 minute chair in the hybrid version – is there any other reference on that ?

  2. Andrew Rixon says:

    Hi Johnnie,
    Great to hear from you.
    Unlike all the other chairs in the OS fishbowl, where those that come are the right people, whenever it starts is the right time, when its over its over and where those that do come choose to leave it when they feel they are not learning or contributing, the 5 minute chair allows for only 5 minutes at a time in the OS fishbowl.
    Larry’s thinking for the 5 minute chair was to keep a freshness to the OS fishbowl. It was an adaptation from the normal fishbowl where often it is more like a 15 minute chair.
    I hope that helps!
    Have a very merry christmas and fabulous new 2007!
    Warm regards,

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