No, there really isn't an agenda

2nd January 2004 at 00:00
A new year, and a new age is dawning. Prepare to free your mind from all the conformity of the conference circuit.

There's a new hassle-free kind of conference in town, man, and it ain't got no rules.

The North West Post-16 Network is offering "Open Space Technology" conferences, where there are no agendas, no top platform, and no rules about who can attend. Delegates sit in circles.

One of the key principles of each conference, according to the blurb sent out by Arthur Cross, the network's chairperson, is that "Whoever comes is the right people (sic)".

Also, apparently, "When it starts is the right time" and "when it is over it is over".

Then there is the "law of two feet" which causes people to "flit from activity to activity" like "bumblebees". And, if all this laid-back activity is still a bit too heavy, Arthur is okay with people who walk off and sit on their own.

Such people are like "butterflies", he explains, because "they create quiet corners of non-action for stillness, beauty, novelty or random conversations to be born." Can I bring my guitar?

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today