Responses to Peggy's email

gail west icataiw at
Thu Sep 20 21:04:37 PDT 2007

>Well done, Peggy! Definitely deserving of a 
>profound "Atta-Girl!!" Every time I find myself 
>in a conversation such as this a simple 
>(minded?) question comes to the fore. If 
>everybody knew precisely where they were going, 
>why would they bother to come in the first place?
>Somewhere along the line you say something to 
>the effect that orderly precision is to be 
>applauded in the manufacture of autos, planes, 
>etcŠ True, I guess - but in those situations we 
>know, or at least think we know, what we are 
>doing. So it makes sense just to get it done. 
>However, at a deeper level, the manufacturing 
>process of those critters is just as chaotic as 
>all the rest of life (LOTS OF MYSTERY) at least 
>for those who are actively engaged in the 
>process. And if you don't believe that just 
>listen to the engineers and technicians as they 
>do their job. Lots of chaos, confusion and 
>conflict, although people try real hard to keep 
>the knowledge of those realities from the 
>It is also true that innovation and improvement 
>come precisely at the points of chaos (at the 
>edge of mystery). And when a system gets (or 
>thinks it has gotten) all the answers, 
>innovation is dead - and it won't be too long 
>before the system itself is moribund. Your 
>friend seemingly feels that we actually have a 
>choice - to engage/not to engage the question. 
>To avoid or not to avoid the fundamental 
>churning of life (chaos). Seen in this light, 
>what happens in Open Space (what happened in 
>your Open Space) is not some un-natural 
>aberration. It is just what is. (Whatever 
>happens is the only thing that could have.) When 
>things get really wild, I can certainly 
>understand the desire to hide under a rock and 
>get out of the way. And every so often you just 
>have to do that, but I fail to see that this 
>withdrawal changes the essential nature of this 
>wonderful chaordic stuff we call life and 
>living.  We didn't create it, and we can't 
>really change it - but we can certainly learn 
>how to live it better.

Peggy...thank you for sharing this learning and 
clear thinking for us. The work of "fieldworking" 
cannot be a linear process. I have often thought 
of it as a similar process to what happens when 
an atmosphere loads up with humidity which 
eventually precipitates into rain. It takes time 
for conditions to arise, and when things 
precipitate, it is always the right time. To be 
sure, there is still some moisture that remains 
in the atmosphere, but the gift of this is that 
it seeds the next cycle.

My hope for your correspondent - if indeed he is 
truly invested in the invitation you and Tom and 
others issued - is for him to remain suspended in 
the field of inquiry and not knowing and by doing 
so to keep dropping questions and learning into 
the field so that something powerful may yet 
precipitate for him and others who respond to his 
invitation. It's about passion bounded by 
responsibility. There is clearly passion here, 
and I hope that he can see the benefit of taking 
the responsibility to stay in the crunchy zone of 
confusion and not-knowing, as an act of 
leadership and invitation to the world he wants 
to see birthed. We men don't do too well with 
labour pains. ( :-) )

Congrats on a great conference.


Kaliya wrote: "At the same time when I ran a 
'datasharing summit' for techies and opened the 
morning circle with please share your name and 
one word about how you are feeling this morning. 
One of the guys who works for a large internet 
company on the east coast shared with me at the 
end of the day that that was slightly 
unconfortable for him (he was not saying we 
should not have done it just that it had nudged 
on his edge a bit). I think you underestimate 
where people's edges are for this kind of stuff."

For whatever it is worth, I share the gentleman's 
sentiments. Perhaps it is our common East Coast 
Heritage, or possibly something deeper and 
darker? J But truth to tell every time I find 
myself in one of those "community building, 
people comforting, getting to know you sorts of 
things at the start of a gathering I find myself 
looking wistfully at the coffee pot and wishing 
that I had extended my stay out in the hall way.

As you might gather, I never "do" something like 
that at the commencement of an Open Space. In 
addition to whatever personal preferences I might 
have, there are quite practical reasons. The 
first is that my attention span is so 
ridiculously short that by the time the 3rd 
person has uttered the magic formula (name and 
feeling) I have already forgotten the 1st two 
people. And truth to tell I don't really care how 
everybody is feeling at that moment (they know 
and that is sufficient), I just want to get to 
work. Well, I guess that is personal too, and 
doubtless part of that up-tight, buttoned down, 
East Coast Syndrome. But there really is a 
practical reason here (I hope!)

The real thrust and focus of an Open Space is (so 
far as I am concerned) Doing the Business - 
whatever that might be. And the quicker you get 
to that "business" the better. So when it comes 
to the "opening" keep it short, and simple. This 
is not about doing a process, having "face time" 
- or anything else. It is all about opening some 
space so folks can go to work. And when that has 
happened, get out of the way.

It really isn't about YOU! It is all about the 
people and their "business."  And anything that 
stands in the way of doing business is 
questionable. I think.

And now about the "Circle."   ("Yes AND it 
doesn't mean that circles are the answer to 
'everything'.") Well, maybe not everything!  But 
for a lot of things! The simple fact of people 
sitting (coming together) in a circle randomizes 
everything. People sit where they have the space 
- and not according to some predetermined view of 
how thing ought to be. Strangers meet strangers, 
out of which grows strange new conversations - 
which never would have happened with the old 
crowd sitting in a bunch. No assigned seating -- 
something new. And in the newness comes 
innovation. Not pre-designed, programmed - all 
emergent. Works just about every time.


Gail West, ICA
3F, No. 12, Lane 5, Tien Mou West Road
Taipei, Taiwan 111
8862) 2871-3150
icataiw at
skype:   gwestica

To subscribe, unsubscribe, change your options,
view the archives of oslist at

To learn about OpenSpaceEmailLists and OSLIST FAQs:
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the OSList mailing list