[OSList] Open Space and Authority
dosborne at change-fusion.com
Sun Mar 30 06:51:40 PDT 2014
Michael and all
Most of what I say on the OS list I have learned through Harrison. I
connect authority with the condition of safety for self-organization. By
authority inviting others and empowering the facilitator to facilitate they
are saying "it's ok" to do.....making it safe. So for me authority is
another lens to view safety through.
The implication of this for me is that having leaders convene conversations
and / or inviting dialogue is a simple pure form of opening space in
What this doesn't explain for me is how self-organization takes root and
accelerates in situations where authority is opposing it such as in the
arab spring and many other conflicts around the world. Perhaps the
oppression of the human spirit has become to great to tolerate and the
alternative status quo is no longer safe.
My thoughts along the way.
On Sun, Mar 30, 2014 at 8:34 AM, Michael M Pannwitz <mmpannwitz at gmail.com>wrote:
> Dear Dan and everyone,
> here are some bits from my experience:
> ---When I get a call or an email from someone asking me to facilitate an
> ost-event I tell them to please arrange a "contact" meeting that needs to
> be attended also by the person that will have the authority to say yes or
> no at the end (usually the person that would pay my fee). The purpose of
> the contact meeting is for the sponsor to find out, whether the
> prerequisites for an OST event are sufficiently in place. This meeting
> takes 60 to 90 minutes, no fee charged.
> This process has nothing to do with OST, its simply what is needed for any
> kind of intervention of any kind of man-made organisation that is embarking
> on such a venture.
> ---Participants in an OST event do not leave the authority bestowed on
> them in the wardrobe, there is no such thing as an equal standing in
> authority terms. What does happen is that folks differently bestowed with
> authority will, in contrast to what they usually do, follow more freely
> their "passion and responsibility" which, it seems, in some way increases
> their non-bestowed authority... the expanded space for the forces of
> selforganisation, the real motor in an OST event, seems to have this
> effect. Everyone, all participants, fully well know the limitations that
> they will have to deal with "back in the asylum" when they follow their
> passion... and very often they are amazingly elegant and cunning in seeing
> their project through (responsible). That is why I encourage the folks in
> charge not to make any kind of promises regarding what they will do to
> encourage projects emerging from the ost event. Participants will get the
> conditions in place to see their projects through.
> ---Yes, again my experience, coercion, control and such do shut down open
> space, not completely though: I have seen the force in a dormant stage and
> becoming quite alive when the conditions are right (prerequisites in
> place)... isn't it our experience that big CONTROL seems to shut down just
> about anything? In OST events I have actually seen efforts of BiG control
> being met by counter-activity (this is sometimes the effect of facilitator
> intervention when a space-invader tries his stuff or, and even more
> effective, the "group" grappling with space invasion/attempts at control...
> these observations I have made when there is a really burning business
> issue and absolutely nobody has the foggiest idea regarding the solution,
> least the folks with "authority".
> I really impress myself with your passion, Daniel. Maybe because I also
> have been trying to refine my understanding, find precise language, get my
> hands onto, etc. what it is that happens in os-events or even in
> os-organisations. In my os-facilitator-career, I have increasingly given up
> trying to understand it and focus more on what I see happening... which has
> increased my faible for stories. By now, I know that stories are fact,
> right, my facts.
> Have a great Sunday,
> On 30.03.2014 13:45, Daniel Mezick wrote:
>> 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?"
>>> "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"
>>> "High level of mandation" (Palines for mandate, have a look at this link
>>> 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
>>> 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
>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
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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/
>> 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/
>> OSList mailing list
>> To post send emails to OSList at lists.openspacetech.org
>> To unsubscribe send an email to OSList-leave at lists.openspacetech.org
>> To subscribe or manage your subscription click below:
> Michael M Pannwitz
> Draisweg 1, 12209 Berlin, Germany
> ++49 - 30-772 8000
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