[OSList] Who Opens the Space?

Michael M Pannwitz mmpannwitz at gmail.com
Thu May 9 01:25:40 PDT 2019

Dear Alan,

some time ago when I was still employed and had the joy of working with 
a grand colleague employed in the same outfit we did a lot of odd stuff. 
What we did usually worked, in fact, it was stunning how well it worked.

Other folks working in the same organisation but in different parts of 
Berlin, hearing of what we were doing would say: "Oh well, of course, 
you guys in Steglitz (one of the districts of the city)!" (Similar, it 
appears to me, to someone saying: "From Fremantle, no wonder!")

We felt they accepted what we were doing and pointed out that we were in 
a different space (geographically and perhaps in other ways). What they 
did not know and we ourselves were also unaware of, this was long before 
we ran into OST, was our way of dealing with control. This is what I say 
in hindsight.
We had some principles such as: Never offer people ways of doing stuff 
or giving them advice, even though we were "consultants" or maybe 
because we were consultants. We turned up here and there to watch and 
listen. And then folks came and asked us, we had plenty of time, and 
some kind of relationship began out of which or through which stuff 
unfolded that had been there but was folded.

 From my present point of view, I also assume that space is. Sometimes 
it is widely opened and other times it is less opened and sometimes it 
is shrunk to almost zero. I also assume that if it is completely closed 
it has the character of stuff in which all thermal motion ceases, that 
is at O Kelvin, or at -273.15 C / -459.67 F, and stuff just turns into 
dust when you touch it. This is what also happens to groups, 
organizations and systems of our own making when space has shrunk to 
zero. They simply disappear.

Then OST came to me and I tried it. It worked and I kept with it. It 
working was what I liked. As I got practice I appreciated the 5 or 6 
prerequisites for selforganisation and some details about the various 
roles and their functions in the process.

Presently, I feel it works very well if the prerequisites are in place, 
no shortcuts are taken, the sponsor opens the event in such a way that 
it widens the space just a bit and the facilitator introduces the 
approach (kiss, of course). In this process the persons and functions 
change: the sponsor becomes participant, the facilitator disappears and 
the participants lead, structure, connive, manage and act.
Instead of setting up a container, space is expanded (control reduced) 
and the needed structure, call it what you like, is created, maintained, 
adjusted, changed, etc. by those that can best decide what they need, 
the participants in selfcontrol. They are the ones that take or leave 
the invitation to attend, offer or do not offer issues... if those 
things dont happen, the event is over (for some reason I have never 
experienced this but someone among us probably has... what I did 
experience in one case, however, is that after an OST-event, a well 
established and seemingly thriving organisation folded a week after the 
event, hmmm!).

In real events stuff happens such as the sponsor (in this example the 
CEO) turning up in polished shoes, fine thread and perfect tie... and 
after his opening taking off his polished shoes, fine thread and tie and 
slipping into sneakers, jeans and a T-shirt to sit in the circle of 
participants. The facilitator disappearing into the background when all 
the issues have unfolded and have found their place on the bulletin 
board. The participants taking over everything that needs to happen.

What I also discovered is that Action Planning after all issues have 
been dealt with is very successful when done as a "second" open space 
(some call it Action Space). It is superior to statistical methods such 
as voting or weighing with dots because it has at its base not that 
which is important but which folks will act on with passion. This arose 
from the observation that often those proposals with the most dots did 
not find a single actor.

As far as my own role as facilitator is concerned I have no better way 
of describing than the mantra "is totally present and completely 
invisible". This sounds impossible and probaby is. Of course, many feel 
that OST is impossible when the first hear of it. When they engage in 
one they are usually surprised but no longer feel its anything special 
but it puzzles and tickles and you want more. I think it is a natural 
process that continues to be remembered and it is for free. Anybody with 
a clear head and a good heart can do it and most of us have a clear head 
and a good heart. Perhaps practically everybody. At times,
my wife does wonder about my clear head and then I ask for her advice.

Who do you have near you that you ask for advice?

Greetings from Berlin

Am 08.05.2019 um 17:21 schrieb Alan Halford via OSList:
> It is becoming abundantly clear to me that every time  I have the privilege to facilitate an Open Space that the space is already open and my responsibility is to set up the container and hold the space for those participating. In saying that I am from Fremantle in Western Australia and we are possibly considered a bit odd!
> Alan
> Alan Halford & Associates
> Open Space Technology Aficionados
> Mediation and Conflict Transformation
> Facilitators
> www.alanhalford.com.au
> www.conflictcompany.com.au
> 0421 475 252
> skype: alanhalford
> On 8 May 2019, at 11:11 pm, Birgitt Williams via OSList <oslist at lists.openspacetech.org> wrote:
> Dear friends and colleagues,
>   "Who Opens the Space"
> I believe that I open the space for myself. I show up. I make a conscious choice about how much space I choose to open for myself, for myself as a whole person to participate. Sometimes the space feels safer to me than other times. Regardless, it is my choice for me of how much space I open for myself in every situation, how much I choose to participate within that self created open space, and for how long I choose to keep the space for myself open.
> I appreciate the effort and love of the facilitator of the Open Space Technology meeting. The role is important, assuming it is carried out with care and love and clarity, to make visible that a bigger space is open and ready for participation. This is a valuable role. Yet, it is still me, that opens the space for myself...no one can do this for me.
> I appreciate the role of the sponsor is opening the space within the organization for a conscious opening of space for a particular theme to be explored. Sometimes the sponsor chooses to open a big space, sometimes it is a smaller space...Both are fine so long as there is honesty about the amount of space being opened. Yet, it is still me that opens the space for myself to consciously choose my participation.
> Now, I am wondering about the importance of providing the people who attend the OST meeting with the concept that the amount of space that they are opening for themselves is their responsibility. Your thoughts?
> in genuine contact,
> Birgitt
> Birgitt Williams
> Supporting Next Level Leadership "Leading So People Will Lead"
> Author, Senior Consultant, President Dalar International Consultancy, Inc
> Founder Genuine Contact Program
> Co-owner Genuine Contact Group, LLC
> Founder Extraordinary Leadership Network
> Learn with us for your growth and development for the new leadership paradigm
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Michael M Pannwitz
Draisweg 1, 12209 Berlin, Germany
++49 - 30-772 8000
mmpannwitz at gmail.com

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