FOFO and it's story

Chris Corrigan chris at
Wed Sep 26 20:57:37 PDT 2007

Louise...your question of "do we know how to behave and work in Open Space?"
is a good one, but maybe I can suggest a more generative wording?

"What are the challenges we have experienced in living in Open Space and how
did we overcome them?"

For me, my experience of Open Space was a grand opening and a flash of
recognition that I was at home.  The first OS I experienced in 1995
(facilitated by Anne Stadler with Angeles Arrien and others) was mind
blowing in it's simplicity and power.  I realized that there was something
here that was going to challenge everything I knew about facilitation,
collaboration and planning.

I have later come to think of the shorthand of these from moving from a
management worldview to a leadership worldview, to an Open Space worldview.
In general, it has seemed to me that folks who are heavily invested in
"management" have the hardest time operating in Open Space.  Management is
thought to be a core capacity for being in business and organizations and so
people tend to buy into and operate out of that worldview.

I have found that folks who begin to discover that leadership and management
are different things generally get on better in Open Space because
leadership demands that we place more accountability on ourselves rather on
the mechanics of an operation.  And the transition from a leadership
worldview to an Open Space worldview, in the which the principles of Open
Space are alive in everything we do, is not something I have experienced in
very many people, but it thrills me when I do see it.

My experience is not that these worldviews are visited like one visits
stations on a train trip.  IN other words you don't leave one behind in
order to get to the next one.  Rather, those folks I know who live
skillfully out of an Open Space worldview seem do to so by stringing
together the two other approaches and taking them along.  There is a time
and a place for "management" in Open Space, a time and a place for
"leadership" and a time and a place for "open space."  If one is afraid that
taking on another worldview meant abandoning everything one knew about
management for example, it would be hard to embrace the new.

So the hardest challenge has been learning that these things are not
progressions up some kind of evolutionary ladder that puts me above anyone
else.  Rather, I try to include all of these worldviews AND find the
transcendent world view that takes me into living in Open Space as well.
Making the mindshift is a big investment, with big rewards.

I wonder what other experiences are?  I wonder what your own experience was
in the FOFO story?


On 9/26/07, louise brissette <louisebrissette at> wrote:
> For the story of the FOFO.
> In 2006, under the recommendation of Harrison, I contacted Jean-Pierre
> Beaulieu and we had lunch around *How come OST doesn't take off in Québec*.
> Jean-Pierre gave me some precious insights, such as there is no cultural
> references and french speaking lexicon, no stories too. Following this
> lunch,  I organized the first Stammtisch in Montreal for a starter. There,
> I met with Marquis Bureau. Later I called him for a breakfast toying around
> the idea of a forum with business people of all walks and consultants and
> Osniks in Val-David in the Laurentians. Marquis and I had a theme with a
> blank sheet. We invited Osniks to join the organization of such a forum. 8
> people answered and 2 left early.
> Then I moved to Val-David. While I was exploring for a venue, and found a
> little miracle called Auberge Premashanti (everything you would dream of for
> Open Space), and negociating and singing the contract, opened a bank
> account, working hard and sometimes fighting to keep the vision of the
> original proposal  alive ( a fight I lost) and the proper format in the
> invitation. Uploading the invitation on my web site, answering info
> requests, communicating with the Canadian Open Space Institute for support
> and grants, communicating with other international actors, while I was doing
> all this, some members of the organizing group were hijacking the purpose
> for their own agenga, being disrespefull and nasty, and mainly playing
> politics and working in a hierarchical spirit, Out the window the business
> people of all walks and consultants, the format was getting rigid and not
> serving the vision anymore, I really worked hard to keep the proper format .
> Plainly, no more fun and pretty painfull. So I left. Funny enough, I left
> my own proposal, my own vision. It had been hijacked..
> But anyway, I left for my own sake, but also for the sake of the FOFO.
> Since we all know that Open Space is deeply about spirit, open spirit, I
> knew that to make it happen and not jeopardize the climate, it had to be
> saved. Since I seemed to be the threat to the hijackers and that they would
> not let go, and were politically supported, I left. And so, my contribution
> is not mentionned anywhere.
> But my spirit was still with the project, silent presence. I am happy that
> the OS seems to have gathered energy for its take off in French during the
> FOFO..
> I am not writing this to whine, (yes I was very pissed off and I don't
> like being SO invisible) but to question a few things. While many of us are
> training or facilitating Open Space Technology, do we really know how to
> work and behave in Open Space ? Also, how about emphasizing on the Spirit of
> OS, and the work style it demands ?  OST is NOT just another technique. I
> have worked with American Indians (Mohawks Wendats and Ojibwe), have
> eperienced sacred rituals and participated in Pow-Wows. I have reckognized
> the same native Spirit  in Open Space Technology.This is what attracted me
> to it. This is not what I have experienced  with the organization of the
> FOFO. I have experienced the same old narrative, command and control, we
> find in the hierarchical and politics we know so well in a Polis
> understanding of the World, while OST is about Cosmos understanding of the
> World.
> Yeah, I know, I'm not supposed to hit the fan like this but, is there
> anything to be learned from this experience ?
> And yes, just for you to know, I had something to do with the first FOFO.
> Louise Brissette
> +1.819.322.1489
> louisebrissette at
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