[OSList] Opening Space for Developmentally challenged adults

Harrison Owen hhowen at verizon.net
Sun Mar 30 17:36:44 PDT 2014

Pat ... can’t recall the names. Been a long time ago. But the answer is Yes,
and the results were remarkable. A Canadian group running sheltered
workshops used Open Space for their annual conference. They held the event
in one of their facilities, and when the clients came down in the morning,
they found the main room set up with a circle of chairs. They sat down, and
the staff then had to figure out what to do with them. Wisdom prevailed, and
the clients stayed. Open Space worked as usual with everybody participating.
The CEO of the organization wrote me some months later to say that a most
remarkable thing had happened. When they came to their yearend financials,
they discovered that they had doubled their services for the same cost.
Seems that ½ half of the services offered were neither wanted nor needed,
but nobody had ever bothered to check with the clients. All that happened in
Open Space, and the result was a tad mind blowing. But not the least mind


A year or so later I got another letter from the CEO who said that they had
just finish their biannual client assessment in terms of coping skills. In
the interim they had done a number of Open Spaces always involving the
clients. She told me that the clients involved scored the greatest gains
ever seen. She concluded by saying that she was sure I never had thought of
Open Space as a treatment modality, but that in their experience it was the
most powerful one they had ever seen. 


I can’t prove any of this. Can’t even remember the names of the client or
the institution. But I sure do remember the letters. So I guess, opening
space can do some good for just about anybody.




Harrison Owen

7808 River Falls Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854



189 Beaucaire Ave. (summer)

Camden, Maine 04843


Phone 301-365-2093

(summer)  207-763-3261



www.ho-image.com (Personal Website)

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From: oslist-bounces at lists.openspacetech.org
[mailto:oslist-bounces at lists.openspacetech.org] On Behalf Of Patricia Haines
Sent: Sunday, March 30, 2014 8:04 PM
To: World wide Open Space Technology email list
Subject: Re: [OSList] Open Space and Authority


Has anyone done an OS with developmentally disabled adults? I'm starting to
work with the Self-Advocacy Association, and think such a gathering could be
- Patricia Haines, Ithaca, NY

On Mar 29, 2014 4:57 PM, "Daniel Mezick" <dan at newtechusa.net> 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

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 Mezick, President

New Technology Solutions Inc.

(203) 915 7248 <tel:%28203%29%20915%207248>  (cell)

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

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