[OSList] Open Space and Authority

Daniel Mezick 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

Kind Regards,


Daniel Mezick, President

New Technology Solutions Inc.

(203) 915 7248 (cell)

Bio <http://newtechusa.net/dan-mezick/>. Blog 
<http://newtechusa.net/blog/>. Twitter <http://twitter.com/#%21/danmezick/>.

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<http://newtechusa.net/about/the-culture-game-book/>: Tools for the 
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