[OSList] Open Space by the book?

Harrison Owen via OSList oslist at lists.openspacetech.org
Thu Nov 13 10:14:32 PST 2014

Open Space, in its "original" form is sparse simplicity to say the least.
Ten to fifteen minutes introduction, and it is off the races, or in my case,
off to take a nap. The evolution of this format followed a simple dictum:
"Think of one more thing NOT to do." Over time in my practice I simply
removed one more element. The first to go were so called, "warm up
exercises." But it went down from there. My surprise was that the less I
did, the better it got... which seemed to be the exact opposite of many of
my colleagues' experience with the methods and approaches they had created.
Their simple guide books gave way to 400 page Manuals with additions and
extensions. Of course, there were times when people remarked to me that OS
was so simple it couldn't possibly work. But it did. Simply sit in a circle,
create a bulletin board, acknowledge the 5 principles and the Law - and Go
to Work! That's it. That's all.


I confess that I do love elegant simplicity, and so there is a large part of
me that would stick with the "original" for that reason alone. To this may
be added the fact that this "elegant simplicity" apparently violated
essentially all the principles and practices of management that I knew
about. To some extent this was a source of no small amount of embarrassment,
for after all when what you see, do, and think is at odds with the Received
Wisdom there are obvious questions about your grasp of reality. But, the
disparity between what I was witnessing and what  (I was told) I should be
experiencing has led to a marvelous quest into the strange new world of self
organizing systems. Rich and rewarding indeed.


Now it seems that the world is changing (or at least our perception of that
world) such that the strange environment of self organization is no longer
so strange. What appeared odd, counter-intuitive, impossible is now almost
mainstream. Not quite but getting there. And if so, perhaps it is now time
to let go of that old "elegant simplicity" in all of its appealing purity...
and plunge into the marvelous world of combinations and permutations. And
why not? It could be a lot of fun.


I can see the possibilities, but I doubt seriously I would change. Senile
sentimentality for sure, AND I actually have another concern which I think
may be determinative. I suspect that OST (simple version) may be the best
Training Program going when it comes to the introduction of folks to the
High Arts of navigating a self organizing world. And best of all it is
Experiential Learning from the start. Training and Doing are absolutely
united. It is not talking about self organization it is being intentionally
in that mode. And any added complexity/parallel program will tend to obscure
the central mind bending fact - It's happening all by itself. 


We have talked about this " training" function before, usually under the
heading of Chris Corrigan's notion of Training Wheels. That is definitely
good start, but only a start. We can do more, and it could be a real kick. 


So I plan to stick with the original - with the hope and intent that lots of
new people will drop by to experience the incredible, productive freedom of
losing control, and then come to understand that it is actually their
birthright. They only have to claim it.






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Camden, ME 04843






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