Major downsizing

Birgitt Williams birgitt at
Mon May 14 18:26:04 PDT 2001

the situation you have here is one that is too often the situation in terms
of human pain and sorrow. I think it is commendable that you are exploring
ways to assist people to support each other. And it appears that you are
doing so with the support of the headmaster.

I have been thinking about this situation and about what it is like to be in
the early stages of grieving, particularly the stages of shock and anger and
denial. And I wonder, when something is so traumatic as "becoming the
survivors of downsizing" which includes survivor shock, whether it is the
right moment for OST. And what the passion/responsibility would be that one
would be willing to state. I can see passion for sure. But not
passion/responsibility. I think this is too hard for the human spirit.

On the other hand, I think that something should be offered to create the
conditions for the humans involved to be supported. I think that it would be
more helpful to do something with less structure such as Calling a Circle
(see the book by the same name) and simply seeing what people had to say.
This allows for passion to be expressed but does not immediately require

Respectfully to all the good work you are doing,

Birgitt Williams of Dalar International Consultancy
Mentoring for Organizational Effectiveness
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-----Original Message-----
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2001 7:50 AM
Subject: Major downsizing

Hi list-friends.
A client of mine has planned to hold a 2-day OST with all 170 staff, in
june, the last days before they all go for summervacation. The theme was to
concern the future of their school (working with "adult learning"). They are
in the process of changing from public funding to "free market conditions".
5 public schools will be in a corporation owned by the municipality. Now it
seems that they will loose a lot of the courses they have given before and
face serious downsizing. The circumstances will be made clear the coming
days. The headmaster believes that maybe 50 out of a total 170 persons on
his school will have to leave. It is likely that there will be some
reorganizations between the 5 schools serving different local areas. They
probably all face lay offs.
It seems pretty clear that a OST conference on the future of the school is
not suitable as a lot of the people coming would not be inspired to plan for
something they may not even be part of. But they do have a need to
communicate and support each other though this. I think OST would still be
suitable but I guess the theme should focus on the issue which is everybodys
concern right now. I promised to make some research on experiences in
similair situations. I would very much appreciate if you would like to
Greetings from sunny Sweden (summer is coming over here)
Thomas Herrmann      Phone +46 (0)709-98 97 81
Open Space Consulting
Pensévägen 4
434 46 Kungsbacka, Sweden
Email: thomas.herrmann at
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