Problem or Deficit Focus

Peg Holman pholman at
Wed Oct 6 17:06:58 PDT 1999


While my experience mirrors Birgitts, that whatever "stuff" people need to
deal with very often comes out in the first day, the question or theme that
frames an OS for me is very much like AI's process of Affirmative Topic
Choice.  In other words, the OS's theme is always framed as possibility
focused.  Within that frame, people do the work they need to do to sort
through what has passion and meaning for them.

Peg Holman

-----Original Message-----
From: Birgitt Bolton <birgitt at>
Date: Tuesday, September 28, 1999 8:09 PM
Subject: Re: Problem or Deficit Focus

>Hi David,
>sometimes in an open space, especially if it is more than one day, what you
>call a deficit focus is a good and necessary part of processing. Usually,
>especially in troubled circumstances, on day one, the troubles get spoken
>alot. Interestingly, there is a shift to solution focus on day 2 without
>anyone having had to do anything about it. It just takes care of itself.
>Sometimes, I hold a storytelling session the evening before the open space
>so that the past and present can be honoured. Simple talking stick
>No intervention or "training" from me. Just let it happen. After honouring
>the past and present, people are more ready to be solution focused for the
>future during the open space right from the beginning. In doing the
>honouring of past and present, we experience the movement through the grief
>cycle which Harrison speaks of .
>Warmest regards,
>Birgitt Bolton of Dalar Associates
>55 Ravina Cres., Ancaster, Ontario, Canada
> L9G 2E8
>phone: 905-648-5775  fax: 905-648-2262
>-----Original Message-----
>C. Rupley, Jr., MD
>Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 1999 12:52 PM
>Subject: Problem or Deficit Focus
>In reflecting on the last two days at OSonOS, I have come upon a question -
>new and unvoiced.
>First, a bit of background.  Having inhabited what I might call a "deficit
>space" for all of my professional life(medicine), when I was introduced to
>Appreciative Inquiry by David Cooperrider and Diana Whitney - it was like a
>breath of fresh air after having become acclimated to something far from
>The logic (and feeling) from AI has great appeal and probably has its
>advantages where there is no  or limited sense of urgency.
>OST (consistent with the "advertising") is MUCH LESS WORK.  Aside from my
>devotion to being a PLR (path of least resistance), I really agree with the
>fundamental from HOO that less is more.
>So, is there any particular situation where some kind of preparation is
>necessary to get people to open space in a more positive, less deficit
>Live Well, Think BIG,
>David C. Rupley, Jr., MD
>Spirited Growth
>Work: 520-742-9325
>Fax:  520-742-9385

>From  Wed Oct  6 21:34:08 1999
Message-Id: <WED.6.OCT.1999.213408.0500.>
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 21:34:08 -0500
Reply-To: mherman at
From: Michael Herman <mherman at>
Organization: Michael Herman Associates
Subject: Re: Training Sessions
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; x-mac-type="54455854";
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

hello esther,

why don't you post your lutheran church story at, in just the same format as
already posted here on the listserv?  there is a section in
the 'stories' forum for churches and the like.

the website structure is intentionally open to allow all of
us to post these stories for ourselves, rather than one
person doing all the leg work.  this gives those new to open
space a way to find others who share a passion for and some
expereince with their kind of organiation.   in addition, by
your posting it yourself, you are able to edit it later,
perhaps adding an update of some kind if anything new
develops in this situation.

this means that the whole worldwide open space website is
governed by passion bounded by responsiblity, and anyone who
will take the time to post stories and resources will gain
the exposure and reap the benefits that will flow from their
individual contributions to the site.  your story would be a
great addition to our worldwide collection.

cheers, m


Michael Herman
...inviting results in evolving organizations

Michael Herman Associates
300 West North Avenue #1105
Chicago IL 60610
312-280-7838 voice
312-280-7837 fax
mherman at

The Global Chicago Network

Michael Herman Associates

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