Help for David

John Dicus jdicus at
Sat Sep 5 08:29:18 PDT 1998

Hello all,

I've been listening to the good advice from everyone.  I thought I'd add
from a set of experiences with a client.  The client hires us to do a
one-day Open Space as an introductory phase of IS/IT shop restructuring.
We do a number of these each year.  Sometimes we do two single day events
back to back for the same organization.  There are a number of reasons we
jointly chose a one day process, but that's not the focus of this message.
We also decided to limit the attendance to 200-225 per session.  The ones
we've done fall into the range of 60-245.

The Senior Manager of the department, often the CIO, issues the invitation.
The invitation states that attendance is voluntary.  If you'd like to know
the percentage that decides to come, it always seems to fall in the 55-65%
range regardless how eager or reluctant the managers perceive their people
to be.

But....   of the 55-65% that decide to come, a fair percentage of them feel
that they did not really have a choice in the matter.

Knowing that we have both volunteers and prisoners, we address the issue as
we open the space.  We say that "for this whole day, freedom of choice
prevails."  "This is your day -- make it what you will."  We talk about
choices, responsibility, and consequences.  We talk about there not being
blame in a system, but shared responsibility to change what needs to be
changed.  We talk about staying in the "learner's story."

After a bunch of these (and we've had good days and "challenging" days) ,
the overall experience is that the prisoners feel validated and make the
choice to contribute freely.

I guess my advice would be...  you can't do much about some of the
circumstances leading up to the event, but you can open and gracefully (and
lovingly) hold open the space for all who enter the room.

Warm regards,



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