Blog > Open Space Learning

May 24, 2010

We are not inviting our clients to engage in risky behavior. Quite the opposite, we are opening a space in which they can really be themselves. And the real risk is to continue with the non-productive, guilt inducing, dependant behavior.Harrison Owen

Anyone confronted with an Open Space meeting for the first time is often thrust in to what I call ‘open space shock’. We are so used to being told what to do, where to go, and when, that when faced with a self-organising system, we sometimes doubt our own ability to respond.

I see this in all sort of ways: people asking for guidance, grumbling about the ‘lack of organisation’ and fears that no-one would ever come to a meeting or conference where they are responsible for creating the agenda. There’s a fear that we all seem to carry that we’re not good enough – our thoughts, our ideas, our experiences – so we default to relying on others. Open Space puts us all right back in the centre.

One of the many reasons I continue to use open space and explore its effects on people and organisations, is because of the reactions of people and the changes that emerge once they are involved in open space. Experiences are often good, sometimes not – all are legitimate. Why is it that a process like open space can engender so many reactions?

Harrison Owen again – It is not about doing something new, or internalizing some new truth — but rather remembering what we already knew and doing what we should/could have been doing in the first place.

If you’d like to join us on the journey – and also learn the basics of facilitating open space – Andrew Rixon and I will be leading a two-day learning event in Melbourne on June 16 & 17. There’s more information here.

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