Use Open Space Strategies to Build Strong Company Culture

How do you maintain a strong company culture? One way is to have all the people in your company contribute to building it. Sharing is at the heart of the Open Space strategy used by culture expert and keynote speaker Robert Richman. Instead of ideas coming from the top down, they come from the bottom up.

Richman is a former Zappos veteran who co-created Zappos Insights, a program to educate companies on the secrets behind Zappos’ amazing employee culture. Under his direction, Zappos Insights grew to a multi-million dollar business reaching over 25,000 students per year.

Since leaving Zappos, Richman has continued to help improve employee culture at hundreds of companies like Google, Toyota, Eli Lilly, and Inuit and turned his insights into The Culture Blueprint, a systematic guide to building a company culture of committed and enthusiastic employees.

How Open Space strategy works

No Agenda: Unlike other workshops where the agenda comes from leadership, Open Space strategy has employees decide the topics of discussion. Employees come up with the topics (which are put in the form of a question) and lead the sessions they are most passionate about.

Marketplace of topics: All employee topics are placed in an open marketplace for sessions. For each session, multiple topics are discussed all over the conference room(s). Once a session is done, people return to the marketplace to begin a second session chosen from the employee topics.

Multiple Participant Roles: Employees have the freedom to choose from four roles or not to participate at all. For any given session, an employee can be a leader, participant, observer, or drop in on lots of sessions.

Employee Reports: Employees takes notes on each session and come up with a report to deliver to the company leadership, so action can be taken on the issues of employee concern.

According to Richman, the advantage of this system is that employees bring up the topics most important to them. In the end, the right people end up discussing the right topic because it’s what they are passionate about. Employees like it because it empowers them to find solutions, engages them in problem-solving, and bonds them with their teammates.

Watch more in this Open Space strategy video.


Kyle Crocco is the Content Marketing Coordinator at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau, a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, and the lead singer of Duh Professors. He regularly publishes business book reviews and thought articles on MediumBusiness 2 Community, and Born 2 Invest.