"Mandatory" Open Space, Power & Control

Larry Peterson lpasoc at inforamp.net
Tue Sep 8 16:48:38 PDT 1998

Great conversation folks:

I think Chris is right in naming the power dynamics as critical. I have led
Open Space events that were clearly "mandatory" and even then some did not
come. One where people were taken off-site by bus to be sure all were
there. However, that was a powerfully positive event. That Open Space is
still working four months later in the teams back on the shop floor. I
prefer "invitation" but it means different things in different
organizational cultures. Some employees believe they have the freedom to
choose, most do not. After experiencing Open Space, more tend to believe
they have that freedom.

Ester, I agree that all of the list can contribute to events that are less
powerful. I think the last one is critical. If the sponsors or formal
leaders neither give a clear focus nor establish the givens and parameters
for action coming out of the event, it is most likely not to be seen as
positive afterwards. Even when they do all of the above, they can still
kill it afterwards.

Inadequate meeting or wall space can be a downer or it can create a lot of
good stories afterwards, depending on the group. I just led an event for a
group that had booked an Algonquin kids camp. There were no blank walls, so
we put tables up on end. The circle became the dining room and visa versa.
 People slept on bunk beds and met on bunk beds when it rained. They had a
wonderful time and Open Space got high marks in the evaluation. Maybe it
could have been more powerful, but the camp setting was just what those
folks needed.


Larry Peterson
Associates in Transformation
41 Appleton Ave., Toronto, ON,
Canada, M6E 3A4
Tel:/Fax: 416-653-4829

lpasoc at inforamp.net

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