Except for the very last one, the invitations
on this page went out by email, mostly inside of business organizations.
I am grateful to my friends and colleagues for sharing these,
though I will leave them unnamed to protect the innocent. You'll
see other deletions and substitutions for the same purpose.
The first of these went out by last-minute
email with little fanfare. The second went out with great fanfare
accompanied by the division chief pictured on Uncle Sam posters
that went up all over the office, in support of the "I WANT
The last one went out in dazzling four-color
text on a single page, neatly folded into a small mailing box.
Their theme was "Acting - not just thinking - out of the
box." They also did a great Top 10 list of reasons to participate
in their event.
Finally, please note that none of the language
here is "right," but some of it may be useful. As on
the other invitation pages, the theme and/or purpose for each
event is highlighted in bold.
From the U.S. Leadership Team of a division
of major multi-national corporation:
Your palms are sweating, everything looks
more and more complex. You are being asked to do more with less
and you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. You feel
like the chaos is catching up with you... Does this sound familiar
A more adaptive focus as opposed to today's
purely operational approach needs to emerge from within [division]
to enable a sustainable performance advantage so that we remain on the edge of chaos, this sweet
spot for productive change where order and disorder flow with
Please join us in investigating together what
this sweet spot would look and feel like at the _______ Hotel,
3000 _____ Road, ___, IL. The meeting will start at 8.00 a.m.
on July 31, 2001 and conclude at 4.00 p.m. on August 2, 2001.
Subject:"I WANT YOU!"
I WANT YOU! - to be proud of our past. I most
certainly am. The xxxxxxxxxx team has created a rich tradition
of excellence through many successes over the years. The combination
of proven performance, exceptional quality, and innovative solutions
is our hallmark.
- We have a very proud history, and an exciting
future awaits us.
I WANT YOU! - to help define that future.
The technology and competitive landscapes are constantly changing,
providing many opportunities for us. It is important to understand
what the future holds, but as a well-known CEO of a multi-billion
dollar global corporation once said, "The best way to predict
the future is to invent it". This is our chance to not only
do that, but to do it together.
- There is no "status quo" in the
marketplace today; it is far too dynamic. The only dangerous
possibility for status quo lies in our approaches to that marketplace.
I WANT YOU! - to challenge the status quo.
There are ways to improve what we currently do: to do the right
things, and to do them better, smarter, faster, cheaper. There
are ways to help make our customers even more successful. There
are also some things we should start doing, and others that we
may be smart to stop doing altogether.
- Don't ever entertain the thought that the
management team has a monopoly on good ideas. We certainly don't!
Also, don't assume that valuable breakthroughs are always the
result of someone else's ideas.
I WANT YOU! - to share YOUR ideas in all areas.
YOU are close to the issues. YOU are close to the problems. And
most importantly, because of this closeness, YOU are the best
source for the solutions!
- Sometimes it's easy to take things for granted.
That is a big mistake, and one we don't wish to make. The xxxxxx
team is an extremely valuable weapon that COMPANY has for waging
war in the marketplace. That is a compliment to each of us.
I WANT YOU! - to know how much we value your
unique skills, talents, and contributions.
- So just what am I getting at with this? During
the first week of November, we will be initiating a mission of
"Charting Our Course for the Future". This is our chance
to help guide and determine our path into the future. We need
your individual and unique insights, your passion, and most importantly,
your involvement in order to unleash the creative energy you
possess. Our focus will carry an action orientation with a strong
reliance on group dynamics and synergy. We will utilize Open
Space meeting technology to facilitate that focus. I am confident
that together we can achieve far, far more than can be imagined
or accomplished individually.
Here are the details:
Who is invited? Please make no mistake here
- YOU are invited.
When will this be held? The afternoon of Tuesday,
11/3, all day Wednesday, 11/4, and the morning of Thursday, 11/5.
You will need to commit to attend the entire three sessions,
as this is an essential element of the Open Space approach to
Where will this be held? Hickory Ridge Conference
What are the specific objectives? We expect
to generate ideas with high potential in at least the following
- New work which would be appropriate for
- Means for increasing revenues
- Means for increasing customer satisfaction
- Means for increasing efficiencies in what
Why should people attend, when they're short
on time? First of all, what else could be more important than
your future? No aspect of any of our jobs is more important than
this. Second, we all have great ideas. Don't let yours go unshared!
If you are willing to challenge yourself by
helping to invent our future, please RSVP to xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
by Friday, October 16.
Thanks for getting on board and helping us
in "Charting Our Course for the Future". And remember,
I WANT YOU!
Respectfully Yours, Joe
Do you want to be part of a high performance
Do you want to try something different to
help us get there?
In the spirit of innovation, a 3-day meeting
process called "Open Space" will be used to bring together
any and all members of our GROUP who have a real passion for
creating a high performance organization. First
developed in 1984, Open Space has been used all over the world.
It allows any number of people to assemble and address complex
issues. At meeting's end the attendees will have produced a documented
result with innovation, ownership, and energy. You will find
it's NOT your typical meeting.
Interested? I am!
For several years, we have had three active
GROUP-level teams working to improve our business: the xxx Team
(formerly the xxx Team,) the xxxx Board and the xxx Team (formerly
the xxxx Team.) We are consolidating these teams and launching
one combined GROUP effort across SITE#1 and SITE#2. For now we'll
call it the xxx, but don't let the name cause you to hit the
The charter of the new xxx Team is to facilitate
the behaviors necessary to fulfill our COMPANY mission of becoming
a "high performance company powered by our people."
This charter encompasses xxx, xxx, xxx xxx, xxx and xxx xxx.
Open Space Technology is a leading edge method to assure we get
If you are looking for a typical meeting this
isn't it. Given the diverse wealth of talent, experience and
resources of participants, you can count on some phenomenal synergy
and creative outcomes. Everyone will receive a copy of our proceedings
ON THE THIRD DAY. We will then create a strategic "blueprint"
for future action. If you want to have real input into co-creating
an exciting future for our organization, please join us.
Monday, March 23, 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 24, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, March 25, 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon
It is important that we all start together
at 10:00 a.m. on Monday.
3003 Corporate West Drive
The Open Space process does not accommodate
"drop-ins," so please plan to arrive on time and stay
for the whole 3-day event. A continental breakfast will be available
one-half hour before start times, and there will be a buffet
luncheon Monday and Tuesday.
Please RSVP by March 16, 1998 to xxx, (630)
Out of town participants should have their
travel agent book rooms at the Hilton Hotel, (630) xxxxxxxx,
and provide the hotel reservation clerk with the name of the
workshop, i.e., "Open Space Technology Workshop". A
block of rooms has been reserved.
See you there,
1997 Strategic Management Activities
2nd Planning Meeting - Environmental Scans
How can we get to the future if we do
not know where we are today?
You are invited to participate in "Environment
Scan"; an activity designed to help COMPANY to get a clear
picture of the internal and external business forces that shape
our current environment. Your participation was recommended because
this meeting requires an open mind. Seeing and comprehending
the diverse facets of our business is the task at hand. Our theme
for this meeting therefore is:
"Knowing what shapes today is a prerequisite
to determine our future"
COMPANY's environment is rapidly changing.
Within the past two years we extended our capabilities by acquiring
CAMAX and Metaphase. Specifically the later moved us into new
challenges regarding markets and the way we see them. We associate
ourselves with CAD/CAM/CAE and PDM; but what does this really
mean ? We need to inquire into the diversity of our environment
by asking questions such as:
- What is COMPANY's market standing in its
markets, industries, and globally? What do we know about our
existing and potential markets? What growth can be expected in
- What innovative behavior do we and our competitors
demonstrate? What competencies do we have today and which will
be required in the future? Which ones will we need to abandon?
Which technologies are "hot" today and will they persist
in the future?
- What is our productivity, in development,
in sales, and in basically all aspects to satisfy our known and
unknown customers' needs? How fast do we bring innovation to
the markets? How well are our competitors doing it? Are we comparing
ourselves to the right set of competitors?
- What is our current and long term liquidity
and cash flow? Do we have the financial breadth and depth to
carry new ideas to the markets without loosing momentum ?
These are just a few of the questions we are
facing. How can we ever make good decision if we lack clarity
about what really shapes us?
The Web taught us a lesson, speed will be
of the essence. How can we tap into an environment that is constantly
changing in faster cycles. How can we align COMPANY with the
trends that will provide long term profitability and technological
leadership. What market standing does it take to create and maintain
And so our theme: What are the issues and
opportunities present in COMPANY's internal and external environments
and how do we create a picture of the diversity of these environments
with enough detail that we can use it as our starting point on
our journey into the future.
The map we will create will provide the needed
clarity of where we are and the challenges we face ahead of us.
Every participant will bring the knowledge required to understand
certain aspects of this map, our collective creativity will weave
these aspects into a map we can use daily to determine our future.
Some reading material to prepare for the meeting
is attached. It includes (1) COMPANY's long term goals as developed
by our executive management, (2) Some background information
about environment scans, (3) Some background information regarding
COMPANY's environment, (4) A brief summary on the technology
we will use, called Open Space, (5) a printout of the computer
template we propose to capture the results of your sessions,
(6) some information on "dialog" which might be helpful
for your break-out sessions.
Chris Armstrong lies awake, again. To this
Information Technology manager for COMPANY, it was the most difficult
but potentially the best of times. It was after all 1999. Besides
the social clamor of the century's turn people converting
cash into gold bullion and the like there was the clamor
of opportunity at the office. While the GOVERNMENT inspected
every aspect of IT's Y2K progress, one of the largest INDUSTRY
mergers of all time rested on the shoulders of managers like
By now there had been countless hours of meetings
to plan the 18-24 month integration that had been promised to
the INDUSTRY analysts. Many, like Chris, had already promised,
"Yes, IT can do that." The consolidation of commitments
was a mind-boggling, complex array of overwhelming. Questions
swarmed. INDUSTRY analysts, the Management Committee, the Lines
of Business, the partners within IT it seemed even facilities
offered mind-bending questions these days. It seemed old ways
weren't providing sufficient answer.
The way Chris felt lately made him think of
a roller coaster. On high-energy days, the end in mind was clear,
and though the path a bit foggy, was paved with the strength
of his co-workers Midwestern ethics, hard working and resourceful.
IT would deliver.
Yet it seemed the slightest set back could
pop the vision balloon: plans not perfectly aligned at first
comparison, a less than supportive partner, a demanding client;
Things that used to be taken in stride, all seemed to instantly
zap energy and with it, patience.
Chris knew IT needed something very different.
Managers across IT needed a whole new level of alignment. They
needed to understand one another's intentions and capabilities
at a totally different level. IT needed to change significantly
to make it through this open space, a space few others have ever
During the session, you'll find processes
and dialogue that are quite different from what you've experienced
before; as you've probably already sensed from what you've read
so far. Our emphasis will be to lay out our concerns, begin to
form answers, and to forge a shared path to IT's success in 1999.
Here are the details:
WHAT: IT Success in 1999 - a 2-day working
session. Within the first few hours, we'll create the agenda
together based on what's important to you.
Summary of WHAT WE WILL DELIVER:
- Expense reductions: $XX by December 31, 1999
and $XX by December 31, 2000
- STATE#1 conversion completed by
- STATE#2 conversion started by ___ and completed
HOW we will deliver - IS UP TO YOU - within
- We will not pursue FUNCTION outsourcing in
- We will pursue end-to-end IT-PROCESS procedures
- We must reduce IT personnel-related expense
by $X over 2 years
- TARGET TECHNOLOGY assumptions...Process assumptions...
WHO: Senior IT community managers and leaders
who know IT has committed to a considerable amount of work, and
are ready and willing to contribute to delivering timely solutions
to the business while we make our numbers. Those who are interested
in creating specific answers to the question, "How in the
heck are we going to do that!?" will definitely want to
RSVP regrets only:
CHANGeING eXPeCTATIONS & NeW BeGINNINGS
ACTING -- NOT JUST THINKING -- OUT OF THE BOX
I know you quickly opened this "box"
because you expected to find something different than a standard
business letter. You thought this must really be very important
-- this must be something new and exciting. While what was "in
the box" is important, we want you to act -- not just think
-- out of the box!
The LOCAL Area Chamber of Commerce began as
the LOCAL Association of Commerce in 1913 and quickly grew to
65 Members in 1918. Today we have passed 2,000 members -- a goal
set in 1996. But, where do we go from here?
"The Chamber is too large" --
"The Chamber is for only for big businesses" -- "The
Chamber is only for small businesses" -- " The Chamber
is for retail business" -- "I don't have the time to
participate in the Chamber" -- "The Chamber offers
too many programs and services" -- "The Chamber doesn't
offer what I really need" -- "I never get a business
lead from the Chamber" -- "The Chamber should be more
involved in politics" --"The Chamber's dues are too
high" -- "I don't know what the Chamber really does"
What does the Chamber really do? Or more
importantly, what should the Chamber do? What should the Chamber
be? What are your hopes and new expectations for the Chamber?
What new beginnings would you like to see? What should the Chamber
be doing for you and your business or organization?
You have been selected to participate in a
process to re-engineer the LOCAL Area Chamber of Commerce. You
are a professional who has a passion, concern and commitment
for the LOCAL Area Chamber of Commerce -- "to provide business
leadership for the benefit of the LOCAL community." Your
opinion and insight is valued. More importantly, we know you
will voice your opinions. This is a "once-in-a-lifetime"
opportunity to shape the Chamber's future. It only requires your
commitment to participate, your candid opinion, and your willingness
to shape the future.
The LOCAL Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting
a full day, professionally facilitated, dynamic, exciting leadership
CHANGeING eXPeCTATIONS & NeW BeGINNINGS
ACTING -- NOT JUST THINKING -- OUT OF THE BOX
(When and Where)
This is not a 'feel good' exercise -- it will
be action-oriented, fast-paced, unconventional and fun. Dress
casually and get ready to work hard. The future of our proud
eighty-eight year old organization is in your hands
Top Ten Reasons To Participate...
You will part of a handpicked team of unique
community and Chamber leadership -- you are someone special and
it is critical for you to participate -- we really want you there!
We need you there!
You will PARTICIPAT -- No one will preach
or lecture. You will not sit and absorb -- you will be engaged.
You will discuss, debate and act. You will drive the agenda.
This is not your "father's Oldsmobile" strategic planning
You will be free to express your ideas --
this is your meeting -- the day belongs to you
You will engage in open, uninhibited, direct
and candid conversations producing new expectations, direction
You will NOT waste your time -- you will go
home with an exciting sense of accomplishment -- you will be
tired but satisfied!
You will decide action items, changes, responsibilities
and who is accountable. This will not be the end -- but the beginning
-- of our collective vision for the future.
You will be encouraged and invited to participate
in action-oriented follow-up meetings and activities
You will learn and grow with an innovative
facilitator known for creating change.
You will enjoy a great facility. Yes, we will
provide breakfast, break refreshments and lunch -- you will not
You will be acting -- not just thinking --
out of the box!
We will be contacting you personally to encourage
your attendance. You can also call XXXXXXX or e-mail, [email protected],
if you would like to save us that telephone call and confirm
Thanks for acting -- not just thinking --
out of the box!!!!
President & CEO