[OSList] A Question About Safety
sarah at improbable.co.uk
Thu Aug 23 03:04:40 PDT 2018
The question of “Safe spaces” has come up recently in our regular OST programme, following some incidents where participants felt there was racism and transphobia at our big annual event. There was a request for more rules or guidelines, which we’ve resisted, but it’s a thorny old issue because not everyone feels strong enough to call out bad behaviour when it happens, and the natural reaction is to look to us as organisers to discipline or regulate behaviour. There’s also a tendency for people to report bad behaviour after the event, so we’re unable to support or facilitate a conversation in the moment. I don’t know what to do about this beyond keep on having the conversation with participants. We eventually held an OS specifically on the question of supporting people within Os <https://www.devotedanddisgruntled.com/Event/devoted-disgruntled-allies> and there was considerable disagreement, with some participants calling for rules <https://www.devotedanddisgruntled.com/Blog/does-dd-need-rules> or stronger guidelines on how to hold conversations <https://www.devotedanddisgruntled.com/Blog/i-think-there-is-a-lot-of-assuming-prejudging-and-snap-comments-made-at-d-d-that-have-negative-impac> and others (including me) <https://www.devotedanddisgruntled.com/Blog/dd-producers-ally-to-do-list> feeling that would disempower people rather than support them, and was totally un-OST. The issue remains unresolved, so I’d love to know if anyone has tried anything along the guidelines/participant-led codes of conduct etc and whether there was any success with that..
> On 21 Aug 2018, at 21:31, oslist-request at lists.openspacetech.org wrote:
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> 1. Re: (Rolf F. Katzenberger)
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> Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2018 22:27:04 +0200
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> <oslist at lists.openspacetech.org>, David Osborne via OSList
> <oslist at lists.openspacetech.org>
> Subject: Re: [OSList] A Question About Safety
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> Having read your later explanation of "safe", I feel it's also useful to look a bit closer at "self-organization".
> From a systemic perspective, it is impossible for a complex system (like an org, or a group of people within) to *not* self-organize. It does not matter whether conditions are great, indifferent or lousy, groups of people will self-organize and adapt, as they always have.
> So, while we may be unhappy about the *results* of it, self-organization in itself cannot be stopped by too much safety. It is a capability and power we can always rely on, for better or worse.
> It seems we rather need to focus more on the desired results, i.e. on the words immediately following the word "self-organizing...". Like e.g. "... team". By stressing "self-organization" instead, and e.g. contrasting it to "passiveness" or "complacency" or "too much safety", we might simply be barking up the wrong tree.
> So, coming back to your question, I'd reply with another question: If you're not happy about the current results of self-organization - what different results would you like to see, instead, and how could you modify the conditions so that it becomes more likely for self-organization to work towards the desired results.
> Just my 2 cents,
> Am 21. August 2018 06:49:20 MESZ schrieb David Osborne via OSList <oslist at lists.openspacetech.org>:
>> Greetings all,
>> I have questions about safety related to self-organization I would love
>> others thoughts on.
>> Is it possible for an environment can be too safe to support
>> self-organization? Can safety be at such a high level that it inhibits
>> slows down the self-organizing process?
>> I'm very interested to hear others perspectives.
>> Best to all,
>> *David R. Osborne*
>> Organization and Leadership Development
>> 6402 Arlington Blvd., Suite 1120, Falls Church, VA 22042
>> 703-939-1777 | dosborne at change-fusion.com | change-fusion.com
> ?If it works, it's right.? | ?Richtig ist, was funktioniert.?
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