[OSList] Open Space and Authority

Rosa Zubizarreta rosa at diapraxis.com
Mon Mar 31 18:35:52 PDT 2014

Ok, plunging in here... deep waters!

One thing I'm noticing, is how words "sound" different, within different

some of the posts above, seem to assume that "authorization" is about the
"standard" world view...
and sometimes, some parts of me resonate with that... it's a word that
initially felt very strange and "foreign" to me,
 not at all "organic"...

and then, after some Tavi experiences, I've come to hear it in a much more
creative vein...
as in, who is the "author" of this story that I am experiencing?  Who is
it, who is really giving power to those, who I see as "powerful"?

and so I've come to experience the whole notion of "authorship", within
that particular community, in a very creative way...

yet still, the word at times has older echoes of "authoritarian", and
which don't resonate so well with these other, newer-to-me, usages...

So, here is what I am hearing Dan say, and Harold clarifying further:
Within an Open Space event , we are all equally invited to play (er, work...
same thing, in my book!)

What I am hearing a few others say (I see no contradiction here): Just by
virtue of stepping into an OS event, this does not alter the internalized
external authority structure that people are bringing in with them (at
least not immediately! ;-)

my own experience echoes Peggy's and others: three consecutive days at an
Open Space event, certainly affected my own sense of creative

thanks for the conversation, all...

best wishes,


*Rosa Zubizarreta*

*Diapraxis: Facilitating Creative Collaboration http://www.diapraxis.com

*Celebrating my new book, "From Conflict to Creative Collaboration: A
user's guide to Dynamic Facilitation"

On Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 5:39 PM, Harold Shinsato <harold at shinsato.com>wrote:

>  Dan, Peggy, Michael, David, Kári, Paul,
> Such a rich topic.
> I don't think Dan is "barking up the wrong tree at all".
> Perhaps this is just my own experience, sensitivity, and upbringing - but
> I deeply resonate with the changing sense of authorization that happens in
> a good Open Space conference, and actually in most circle based processes,
> compared to the other more hierarchy based ones. And the spatial setup is
> critical here.
> This was almost ridiculously confirmed in my experience of a Group
> Relations (GR) conference. We started in a theater style - the hosts and
> administration of our temporary institution - sitting like the judges and
> jury of our assembly. They claimed we the assembly had no rules, but when
> the group tried to rearrange the chairs in a circle, the leader
> de-authorized the conversation. No one dared again challenge the chair
> settings again. Also in my GR experience, there was another large group
> process - where we sat in a double spiral. It was fascinating to see the
> dynamic nature of authorization happening as people moved in and out of
> greater and lesser levels of authority (as granted by the assembly). My own
> experience of the OSList is we're more in a Spiral dynamic than in a
> circle. Just my experience. Since we're not in visual contact, it's a
> little harder to tell who is closer to the center as we speak/write on the
> OSList. But it's not that hard to tell.
> A circle is inherently equalizing. Think of the Knights of the Round Table
> here. Maybe it doesn't make everyone equally authorized - but it does give
> a sense that we're all in it together, and that everyone matters, everyone
> counts. It's certainly harder to hide in a circle - but where does a circle
> start? Where does it end?
> Obviously, OST is a lot more subtle than just the circle, the bulletin
> board that everyone is authorized to write on, the law of two feet, and the
> five principles. There's so much more to say. I hope the group doesn't
> deauthorize the importance of this topic.
> A couple more points.
> 1) Using GR vocabulary- I join with Paul Levy. I think Open Space is more
> about "moral authority". To me that is about enabling self-authorization.
> Maybe another possible term - intrinsic authorization. I love some of the
> thinking of the Rights described in the American Declaration of
> Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people]
> are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
> unalienable Rights." Authority comes from the Creator - or you could say -
> it's already built in :-)
> 2) I love the safety theme around authority, and I also join with David
> and Kári on that theme. This is all about the container. A good facilitator
> helps establish and hold a strong container. It's hard for the container to
> hold without a blessing from the kings and queens of the community - the
> Sponsor. This container needs rules of play that equalize the authority to
> "do work", which in an Open Space is to host and attend sessions, be a
> bumble bee or a butterfly. It doesn't matter how great the title someone
> has - once the container is set - it should be safe and without
> repercussions for someone to take hold of the center of the circle and
> announce their topic, not announce a topic, attend or not attend sessions.
> Those rules are not usually in play for most meetings. For example, at a
> Board meeting most people in an organization aren't even allowed to be
> there, let alone speak.
>     Cheers,
>     Harold
> On 3/31/14 9:00 AM, Peggy Holman wrote:
> Dan,
>  You ask great questions!
>  My take: like most of life, authorization is more nuanced than your
> statement below.
>  Like you, I believe everyone has 100% equivalent authorization AND they
> also carry the imprinting of habits, context, self-talk, existing
> relationships, and more that influence how they show up. Some will
> experience themselves as having 100% authorization, some will test that
> assumption, others will observe and reserve judgment, and every other
> flavor in between.
>  I have observed that with repeated use, people seem to experience an
> increasing sense of self-authorization. More take responsibility for what
> they love not just in Open Space but in life.
>  I know of no practice that lays the groundwork better for increasing
> self-authorization in social systems.
>  from sunny (at last) Seattle,
> Peggy
> --
> Harold Shinsato
> harold at shinsato.com
> http://shinsato.com
> twitter: @hajush <http://twitter.com/hajush>
> _______________________________________________
> 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:
> http://lists.openspacetech.org/listinfo.cgi/oslist-openspacetech.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.openspacetech.org/pipermail/oslist-openspacetech.org/attachments/20140331/e8ac9948/attachment-0008.htm>

More information about the OSList mailing list