[OSList] Open Space and Authority
dan at newtechusa.net
Sat Mar 29 13:57:39 PDT 2014
I am asking for help. Will you help me clarify my thinking?
I'm wondering if 100% equivalence in authorization for all participants
is actually a key/defining characteristic of any genuine and authentic
Open Space event...
First things first. Definitions:
Authority: The right to do specific work
Authorization: The conferring of authority
Formal Authority: Authorization conferred from the formal organization
to a person. Example: "the CEO".
Informal Authority: Authorization conferred from peers, colleagues and
co-workers. Example: "emergent leadership".
Now let's get into it. I currently think, and believe, that:
1. For an Open Space event inside an organization, the Sponsor must
occupy a role with substantial formal authorization, definitely more
than enough to actually authorize that OST event. The higher the level
of formal authorization of the Sponsor, the better it is for the event
2. The Sponsor authorizes the participants- the "invitees"-- to meet
together, and do the specific work of exploring and investigating the
Theme. This "authorized work" is done in "authorized space"...in that
specific place, for a specific period of time. The Sponsor explicitly
authorizes all of the above and conveys this message after they stand
up, and before they sit down, at the opening.
2. The Facilitator is formally authorized by the Sponsor to do the
specific work of OST event. Absent this authorization, the Facilitator
has no standing.
3. This is the big one: Everyone else, Sponsor included, has 100%
equivalent authorization (100% equivalent "right to do work") as of the
moment of opening of the Bulletin Board and/or the opening of the
4. As the event progresses, authorization dynamics are in play. These
"informal authorization" dynamics occur continuously throughout the day
in real time, moment by moment. Those who experience net increases in
levels of informal authorization as of the end of the meeting have
membership in the "emergent leadership" group.
I am very interested in what experienced folks think about the validity
of the assertion in (3) above.
Ex the Facilitator, does everyone else actually have 100% equivalent
authorization in an OST meeting? Why or why not?
Is this 100% equivalence of authorization actually a key/defining
characteristic of any genuine and authentic Open Space event?
Thanks for any insight you may be able to provide, and
Daniel Mezick, President
New Technology Solutions Inc.
(203) 915 7248 (cell)
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