The best part of Harrison Owen's first
Organization Transformation symposium was the coffee breaks.
So the next time around, he intentionally invited his participants
to nothing more than one big coffee break -- and Open Space
Technology was born. Intentional evolution, too, is all about
seeing what's best in what we're already doing and working toward,
naming it in a simple invitation, and opening the space for our
colleagues, customers, suppliers, neighbors and friends, to work
together, to create more and more of it.
This story is how I've come to understand
and pursue what's best in organization: passion, vision, movement,
effectiveness. This is the best I can do for now and I'm happy
with how it's taken shape. At the same time, however, I know
that this story -- and every other invitation, plan and map --
In every moment here, I choose but one word,
where in fact, it would take many to tell the whole truth. I've
tried to not write this story for more than a year, but
I find that it won't go away, won't leave me in peace. Even so,
every time I sit to write, I come face-to-face with the unfathomable
odds against my getting it right -- getting it squeezed into
the words that will allow you to understand what I'm understanding,
in a way that you can use it in your life.
Fact is, there are plenty of days when I can't
even explain it to myself in the words I need,
to know just what to do, at just the moment that I need
to do it. Sometimes it happens anyway. I'd like to think it's
a result of all the 'practicing' I do, in my mind, in those moments
right after I should or could have done something very
right. Perhaps the catch is that the moment of doing doesn't
really need to be separate from the moment of seeing? But to
not pull them apart is an awesome challenge, and who knows what
might happen if my trust, my patience, my wisdom and compassion
actually succeeded in leaving them together!
So, this is a story that I could not not
write -- a call I could not refuse -- and yet, one that I
know is seeking a level of clarity and certainty that this written
world just doesn't allow us humans; seeking a power that can
only come when I sit with you and really listen to your story
-- as you help me know it and then I tell you mine -- the two
of us working together to find the words that lead us to us.
And when it really works, writing this story
of ours feels like a slow version of stepping up onto the top
of a mountain, breathing the light of a sunrise, or inviting
the smile of a little kid -- and saying "wow!" to nobody
but myself -- before I can even really think it. It's a time
of not doing anything and unavoidably doing something. It's about
being powerfully connected to the whole and hopelessly alone
in the details of my own understanding of it all; being driven
to write even as I see what we really need is conversation you
and me, us and them, more and more... about the things we care
about most, are afraid we won't get or can't have, and yet must
And all shall be well, as we post invitations
and host conversations, marrying the personal and the strategic.
It really does work! NOT because of our planning and efforting
-- but because the world really is waiting for us, really is
calling for us, to invite it into these conversations. The world
is ever ready to create more of what works, more of what is best
for all of us.
And when we answer this call for simplicity,
(costing not less than everything), we become inviting leaders
inviting leadership. Evolution is now and open space. And the
invitation and the organization are one. Please join us...