The Illusion of Successful change requires the top person

Chris Weaver chris at
Thu Feb 22 22:40:41 PST 2001

I am truly astounded at the subtle wisdom moving in these threads we have
going.  There are times when the oslist makes this plastic box plugged into
the wall better than any university.

Laurel, thanks for your comments about emergent leadership.  (For
outstanding academic treatment of this idea applied to educational settings,
see Linda Lambert's book The Constructivist Leader, especially chapters 2
and 10.)

I build on your comments to say:  I believe that perhaps the most
radicalizing effect of OST for people is the experience of an authentic
dance of emergent leadership.  Participants begin as followers in the
opening, step forward as leaders/convenors, move back into followership in
other sessions, and re-configure freely again during convergence.  The fact
that we already know how to do this dance is astonishing to people.

Jeff's articulate story makes sense to me in this way too.  As facilitators,
we are most often not leaders but space-holders.  But in the case where Jeff
had passion for the content, and convened a session on the second day, he
was simply participating in the emergent-leadership dance...because he
sensed that he was not explicitly needed to hold the space at that time.
And OST trainings, as he mentions, invite their own peculiar dance.

When I think about the InterActive or Open Space Organization, this question
is at the heart of it:  How can an organization and its structures sustain
the dance of emergent leadership/followership?

So I am beginning to see leadership, followership, and space-holding as
three distinct responsibilities.  They are all needed, they overlap, and
people dance between the roles as consciously as possible...?


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Opening the Space for Inspired Collaboration
P.O. Box 8234 / Asheville, NC 28814 / USA
Phone: 828 225-0007 / Fax: 828 225-0303 / chris at

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