Drop Off in Numbers

Harrison Owen owen at tmn.com
Mon Dec 20 06:20:46 PST 1999

At 08:26 AM 12/20/99 -0500, you wrote:
>I understand "overload".  I often have to go and process what I have gotten
>by myself for a while. For some, leaving may just be the need to get away
>and deal with what has happened to date.  It might also be the realization
>that you don't want to be an on going part of what is emerging.
I think Barbara has a real point here -- especially if the Open Space has
been the "kick-off" for a new venture. This is not a matter of personal
experience, but if the Open Space was the initial gathering of all those
who might care about a particular new business/service/system, I can
imagine a number of people coming just because they care about the general
idea, but are not so sure about the specifics. Over the course of the Open
Space, the specifics become clearer, and some of the original attendees
find it not be their particular cup of tea. So they exercise the law of two

I can see their departure being a matter of concern, but it may not be
ultimate disaster, even a little bit. For a start-up, the important thing
is to find those folks who will really be committed. All the rest are
wonderful people, but not this time. Frankly, and as painful as it might
be, I would infinitely rather learn that my great idea didn't the
horsepower to really move early on -- than learn the same thing down the
road after a lot on energy and other resources had been expended.

On the few occasions when I have witnessed a radical drop off in numbers at
the end (but never in a start-up situation) I have been rather more
impressed with the Spirit present than with the Spirit departed. And I
rather think it was a good learning experience for all those who stayed.
Typically, they acknowledged the fact that some of their number had left --
and simultaneously re-committed themselves to the pursuit of what they
really cared about. After all it is the nature of organizations that people
come and go, and this truism seems to be come truer with each passing day.
But what comes home is the validity of the 1st Principle: Whoever comes is
the right people. At the beginning and at the end.

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