self organizing systems

ralphsc ralphsc at
Mon Aug 23 20:33:20 PDT 1999


I don't believe I've ever done a modified open space.  I have done, on
rare occasions, things that aren't open space and for which I have
borowed from OS a few tools or ideas, but then, it's clear to me, it is
not open space.

If I modify open space, then the space is not fully open, and what would
be the point of "partially open space" anyway!?

And why are the exclamation point and the question mark at opposite
points on the keyboard when I use them together so much!?

When open space goes wrong for me, it's perhaps because I have not
executed some other part of my consulting responsibility as well as I
might.  Usually it means there is a question or two I have failed to ask
my client about his/her/their intentions.  For example, last summer I did
a big (200 folks) day-and-a-half OS gig for a large group that had
gathered from around the country (US) in Kansas City.  I did everything
as I pretty much usually do and though it mostly went well, the energy
was kind of flat the whole time.  Later I found out that the planning
committee had an agenda they cared about that reflected one set of views
that was quite different than the majority of folks there, i.e. they
chose a theme few folks really cared about.

Now, one could say they coulda/shoulda done something about that in the
open space, but if they choose not to, is that anyone's fault?  I don't
think so, and OS certainly isn't to blame.  And the fact that I did not
probe the event-planners with a question like: how comfortable are you
that the theme you're choosing will be the one people would most like to
kick around, is also not an OS deficit.

There's no rule that says a system in potential *must* self-correct or
self-organize.  I think this is consistent with the theory of evolution,
but don't tell them that in Kansas.

By the way, has anyone else here ever wondered, as I do, about the
similarities or parallels  between OS and evolutionary theory?

Ralph Copleman

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