[OSList] Open Space and Authority

Daniel Mezick dan at newtechusa.net
Sun Mar 30 04:45:28 PDT 2014

Hi Michael, Everyone,

I'm sorry there are coercive mandates happening in Berlin, and that you 
have to experience them.

Regarding the Sponsor for an OST meeting,
I am saying that I believe this person must have enough formal authority 
("sufficient+1") to be able to actually arrange, budget and convene the 
meeting. And that the authority that the Sponsor holds is conferred to 
him or her by the organization. Is this true in OST?

Regarding the Participants,
I am saying that I believe that after the Marketplace opens, the 
intention and in fact the reality of OST is that everyone has an equal 
standing in authority terms. At the start, no one person or group has 
any more authorization to act than any other person, regardless of their 
formally authorized role in the organization. Is this true in OST?

For the record, I am not at all in favor of mandates. I am allergic to 
them. I believe mandates and other forms of coercion strongly discourage 
self-organization by the imposition of external authority over the 
person or group. Self-organization is impossible in scenarios where 
individuals and groups are not free to choose. Is this true in OST?

This places out routinely EVERY SINGLE DAY in Agile adoptions. Formally 
authorized leadership imposes Agile practices on teams while at the same 
time encouraging teams to "self-organize". I for one have seldom if ever 
seen it actually work that way.

And so I have my questions about authority in Open Space.

I'm not being cute here: I'm hoping someone can help me break/refine my 
model of OST as it pertains to formal and informal authority, in the 
Open Space. I'm trying to use more precise language to explain what I 
think is going on in OST. In my view, the 1 Law and the 5 Principles 
make it clear everyone has equal informal authorization in OST, 
regardless of their formal title. I some ways the formal titles are 
suspended, as the space is held open for inquiry and dialogue.

This is my current belief. I asking for help in determining if this 
belief is close to truth.

Related Links:


On 3/30/14 5:23 AM, Michael M Pannwitz wrote:
> Dear Dan, Jamie and Paul,
> is there a new (5th or 6th) principle emerging?
> Such as:
> "Whoever is authorized is the right people?"
> Or
> "Whoever is mandated is the right people?"
> Or is there a new prerequisite for the unfolding of the forces of 
> selforganisation in sight?
> In addition to the 4,5 or 6 that we are often concerned about?
> Such as:
> "High level of authorisation"
> or
> "High level of mandation" (Palines for mandate, have a look at this link
>> http://de.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Mandation
> Or are these thoughts simply a manifestation of "old-paradigm", 
> remnants of the realm of control?
> Control? Wasn't that the effort to shut down selforganisation towards 
> zero?
> Heavy stuff for a sundrenched Sunday morning in Berlin where I and the 
> entire population (including dogs and cats and other pets kept in 
> human housing) are suffering from having been robbed of an hours time 
> by authorities that are mandated to do such stuff.
> Oh yes, before I forget, there was the notion that "passion and 
> responsibility" is all that is needed for "authorisation" (with the 
> nagging suspicion that folks driven by passion and responsibility and 
> even taking action under those influences walk through the walls and 
> obstacles set up by those authorized to raise them as if they were 
> thin air).
> Greetings from Berlin
> mmp
> On 29.03.2014 21:57, Daniel Mezick wrote:
>> 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
>> overall.
>> 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
>> Marketplace.
>> 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
>> -- 
>> 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/>.
>> Examine my new book:The Culture Game
>> <http://newtechusa.net/about/the-culture-game-book/>: Tools for the
>> Agile Manager.
>> Explore Agile Team Training
>> <http://newtechusa.net/services/agile-scrum-training/> and Coaching.
>> <http://newtechusa.net/services/agile-scrum-coaching/>
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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/>.

Examine my new book:The Culture Game 
<http://newtechusa.net/about/the-culture-game-book/>: Tools for the 
Agile Manager.

Explore Agile Team Training 
<http://newtechusa.net/services/agile-scrum-training/> and Coaching. 

Explore the Agile Boston <http://newtechusa.net//user-groups/ma/>Community.

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