"rules" and self-organization
peggy at opencirclecompany.com
Thu May 31 12:24:41 PDT 2007
Yes! I think Kaliya has the right of it ...it is the work of creating a nest - a rich, nutrient environment and it is vital work. Having been to several gatherings with all seasoned practitioners, who know how it all works, we still found it an important discipline to pay attention to the space. It can be done by one, by a few or by everyone, but the quality of the gathering is vastly improved by the mindfulness of caring for the space. It is a light holding, to be sure, and a service to the group, but there is a HUGE difference between no attention and a light touch.
I remember reading years ago about Ron Lippitt's experiments with boys clubs. They thought they were testing two models of leadership - autocratic and democratic. In practice, they found there were actually three styles. They called the third laissez-faire. I think this has some relevance to this discussion about the nature of the leadership role in the calling to and holding of space. I equate Ralph's experiment idea to the laissez-faire example. Here's an excerpt from Marv Weisbord's Productive Workplaces:
Lippitt and teacher Ralph White designed experiements with volunteer boys' clubs doing typical activities like arts and crafts [note from Peggy: notice no girls were part of these experiments...I wonder how that might have affected things?] . Each researcher led a group democratically for several sessions, then autocratically for several more, observing the impact of different styles on the group climate and output. Acting as authoritarians, White or Lippitt dominated, set goals, issued instructions, interrupted, made all decisions, and criticized the work. Their followers argued more, showed more hostility, fought, damaged play material, lost initiative, became restless, showed no concern for group goals or others' interests. They scapegoated the weaker members (an analogue to Hitler's Germany not lost on the researchers). Then, as democratic leaders, the researchers encouraged groups to set goals, make decisions, and mutually critique one another's work. These groups stuck to the task and developed more friendliness, group spirit, and cooperation.
Lewin, running a movie camera behind a screen, soon observed White, an inexperienced group leader, using a third variation: letting the boys do what they wanted. the team called this style "laissez-faire" and made it part of the experiment (Marrow, 1969). Groups led in laissez-faire style showed less task focus than either of the others. Lack of direction frustrated the boys, who felt vaguely inadequate and blamed their unhappiness on less able members.
Climate and results followed style, no matter which leader exhibited it. The extraordinary thing was how fast group behavior changed when leaders changed their styles.
Watching Lewin's film in my office recently (you can rent it for a few dollars), I was struck by the marked differences in behavior when the leader left the room (a deliberate act). In the autocratic group, the boys picked on weaker members, goofed off, even destroyed their work. In the democratic group, the boys hardly noticed the leader' absence and kept right on working. In laissez-fare, boredom quickly surfaced. Some boys quit doing anything and wandered around the room.
A personal experience on laissez-faire. I was at a wonderful gathering of mostly seasoned practitioners at a place called Hazelwood in England. The hosts were of the Art of Hosting community. They took us through the opening day and then asked for someone(s) to take responsibility for hosting on the next day. No one stepped forward (I think we were all looking for a break from this role!). Well, it turned into an aimless, meandering mess of too many people trying to figure out how to manage themselves. I, as a good OS practitioner, excised the law of two feet and left what I knew would be a frustrating and not particularly productive conversation. (Reports from those who stayed confirmed this to me later.) That evening, a group of us agreed to host - to open the space the next morning because the time was too precious to stay in such a laissez-faire state. We did, and the rest flowed on in juicy, productive work.
here's to democracy, not laissez-faire-ocracy,
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----- Original Message -----
From: Kaliya Hamlin
To: OSLIST at LISTSERV.BOISESTATE.EDU
Sent: Wednesday, May 30, 2007 5:57 PM
Subject: Re: [OSLIST] "rules" and self-organization
It is nice you all want to be so 'free form' about things and 'believe' that humans just 'self-organize'.
My experience has taught me that leaning to far in this direction actually creates a lot ofÂ dissonance for people and leads to spaces with negative energy.
Having a person or better a group of people taking responsiblity for holding the space creating a nest if you will... within which people feel safe to 'open up' and explore with each other possibilities.... out of this space this nest is born new action and activity.
At this time on our planet we need to be as intentional and catalytic as possible in creating space for new possibilities of our civilization to emerge....being passive and hoping that people conditioned the way they are in our current culture will some how 'magically' 'awake' and 'self-organize' is to meÂ hopelesslyÂ naive.Â
Diffusing the simple tools and 'rules'Â or principles and practices is one of the things that could make theÂ most difference at this time on our planet.Â
My experience is that professionalÂ communities (that is people coming together to use this methodology in peer-to-peer professional network (outside 'AN' organization) settings) seeking to take action together learn the way OST works and take to it....it becomes the new norm -the shared way of doing things together that they work on.Â It lets all the passion talent and energy come forward and the people who are interested find each other because there is enough structure ... just enough that it is functional and effective for them to spend their time in the space together.Â Â THIS IS important. I somethings think people undervalue peoples time and energy by all this 'it just happens' talk....well if you help it happen and you follow some simple steps it is like 10x better.Â THAT MATTERS for the state of the world and to respect peoples time and energy for showing up.
On May 30, 2007, at 4:19 PM, openspacekorea wrote:
great! i agree with your point 100%.
Love and Peace,
From: OSLIST [mailto:OSLIST at LISTSERV.BOISESTATE.EDU] On Behalf Of Ralph Copleman
Sent: Wednesday, May 30, 2007 10:12 PM
To: OSLIST at LISTSERV.BOISESTATE.EDU
Subject: "rules" and self-organization
One way to test what is essential (what Artur termed "micro") and what is not would be to open some space without mentioning either the four principles or the law of two feet. Â Or anything else.
If self-organization occurs in os, would not the "space" still "open" without things we have come to believe are essential? Â I'm betting it would, or at least could. Â Perhaps all we need is a room and a theme and a wall. Â Maybe some tea and coffee. Â How free are we? Â
Picture it. Â You're invited, so you show up because the theme interests you or you know the inviter. Â You get there, see the theme statement on the wall, and nothing but a circle of chairs. Â Nothing. Â Not even a facilitator. Â Others arrive. Â The only things you share at this point are your presence and your presumed interest in the theme.
If self-organization is real, is not the space already open? Â It may take longer, but might relevant, useful conversations begin?
I think the facilitator meets our need for an authority figure (a perfectly natural, good thing, most of the time), and the ideas about feet, insects, etc. a minimal unifying structure (think of it perhaps as curbs to a boulevard?) that steer us into an opening, a place we have agreed, by showing up, we want to be. Â OS in action resembles self-organization, but it isn't the pure thing. Â (Not that it really matters. Â I love it simply because itâ€™s the best way I know to show people what evolution on Earth is really like. Â And it produces great results for my clients.)
One more rumpled notion occurs this morning... Â What about the storytelling role, the thing we do as facilitators to connect people entering an open space to a greater whole? Â I know this is important, but is not the facilitator simply reminding people of a story they already know, deep down? Â If self-organization/evolution is real, itâ€™s been working far longer than humans have even Â been around. Â Might we not trust this process? Â How far can we go?
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Kaliya - Identity Woman
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