Leslie Zucker (Creative/DC)
LeslieZ at CreativeDC.com
Mon Jan 14 06:19:34 PST 2013
I’m loving this particular thread. I find myself nodding my head and agreeing whole-heartedly as I read Harrison’s email to his client. The letter brings the responsibility back to humans. The responsibility to choose a perspective and to believe your own “self talk”. The only words that I would change in the whole letter if I were to send it to my clients would be… instead of “What are you doing, by way of doing business, that creates an environment in which good people appear as dysfunctional, with morale at snake belly low, and incapable of meaningful communication?” I would say “Who are you being that creates an environment in which good people appear as dysfunctional, with morale at snake belly low, and incapable of meaningful communication?
As I am doing my certification in Life Coaching, I am struck – everyday- by the power of the question... “Who are you being in XY or Z situation?” Maybe clients such as the one Harrison describes would do a deeper dive into self-reflection with that kind of question?
This all leads me to wonder who of you fabulous Open Space folks are also Life Coaches? I don’t even ask “IF”, but who? Would any of you like to do a little exploring about the intersection of Open Space and Coaching? Have any of you already written about this?
Looking forward to any and all thoughts about this.
With smiles from Washington, DC – one week before Inauguration 2013!
Leslie S. Zucker
Training Manager, Human Resources Division
Creative Associates International
Life Coach for Life's Dancers
From: oslist-bounces at lists.openspacetech.org [mailto:oslist-bounces at lists.openspacetech.org] On Behalf Of Chris Corrigan
Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2013 11:51 PM
To: World wide Open Space Technology email list
Cc: World wide Open Space Technology email list
Subject: Re: [OSList] Afterwards...
That is a good fierce question to host your client in. And your observation that it is about the people and not the process is spot on. Anywhere there is dysfunction or success it is down to the people.
Harvest Moon Consultants
Art of Hosting - Participatory Leadership and Social Collaboration, Bowen Island, BC<http://aohrivendell.withtank.com/> November 11-14,2013
On 2013-01-12, at 5:08 PM, "Harrison Owen" <hhowen at verizon.net<mailto:hhowen at verizon.net>> wrote:
Well, the Open Space, previously noted, is over. For the client it was a raging success, or so they said. For myself it was indeed marvelous, albeit just another day in Open Space. But I also noted a sense of sadness, maybe even tragedy. I have felt such feelings before, but never quite so strongly. I had been told that the participants constituted a dysfunctional organization, low on morale, and lacking in communication abilities. But when we opened space, you surely couldn’t see any of that. Charged up, charging on – with purpose, clarity, respect, and humor. What’s not to like about that? But more to the point, how could the client been so wrong? The client in this case is a duo (Chief and Deputy). Both are competent, sensitive, energetic, bright – truly good folks. But the fact remains that the very same people (“the employees”) who had been described as dysfunctional, dis-spirited, and un-communicative… simply took fire! I believe this raises some questions that we need to ask ourselves, and most especially our clients. In what follows, you will see my attempt, appropriately redacted to cover the innocent. I guess you could call this “After-work.”
(An Afterwards email to my client)
Given your initial description of the situation, it appears that some good things may have happened. As I recall, the organization was described as “dysfunctional with serious morale and communications issues.” Those may not have been precisely the words, but pretty close. I heard what was said, and was prepared for the worst, but to be perfectly honest with you, there was nothing that I saw during our two days together that would lead me to such a judgment. What I did see was a committed group of professionals deeply and passionately engaged in their mission and with each other. To be sure there were arguments and disagreements, but so far as I could see all of that took place in a respectful manner. Above everything else they were genuine, warm, people. Nice folks. With the exception of a few moments of trepidation at the very start, which seemed to pass quickly (20 min?), it all flowed as a marvelous tapestry of human endeavor.
Assuming that my natural (and doubtless prejudiced) optimism didn’t get the better of me, it is reasonable to ask, What happened? One might suspect “The magic of Open Space,” but I think that would be a false conclusion. A more accurate one would be, The Magic of the People. And that magic seemed to appear almost instantaneously – well, after 20 minutes or so. All of which could lead to a deeper and more interesting conclusion: The people didn’t actually change at all, they simply showed up as they really were. And a follow-on question: What was different? Same people, same issues, same general constraints ( Washington is still Washington, and Africa remains its enchanting, maddening self). To be sure, we were in an “offsite conference center,” but I can tell you that had the space been available in the office, the results would have been comparable. What was different?
As you wander on down the road, there will be a natural tendency to assess the impact of our two days together in terms of the number of projects/fixes/changes that are followed up on, and implemented. Natural, but superficial, I think. Some proposals will be dealt with, some won’t be, some never should be. Indeed the world may radically change tomorrow so that just about everything we talked about, thought about, and planned is irrelevant. The question then will be, can The People demonstrate the same level of professional competence, commitment, passion and responsibility as they did over the past two days, and effectively deal with that new world? I believe you have now set a new high bar for yourselves, and based on the demonstrated performance, I believe the odds are really good. No guarantees, of course, but one thing is very clear, The XXXX Bureau is NOT essentially a tattered collection of dysfunctional people, out of steam, and out of spirit.
And now we come to a really hard question – the pointy end of the stick, as it were. What are you doing, by way of doing business, that creates an environment in which good people appear as dysfunctional, with morale at snake belly low, and incapable of meaningful communication? I don’t think for a moment that the original assessment was wrong, but I do think there are alternatives. Short take: Keep your space open. I do think you can apply some of the lessons learned from Open Space so that good people can effectively maneuver in tight quarters.
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