Michael Herman
Opening Space for Business Agility

 
 
 

an invitation-writing story, originally posted in the old practice notes bulletin board

ChrisCorrigan? posted 09-06-2001 06:20 PM

Today I was working with a steering committee of nearly 15 people on a conference call setting a theme for a national Aboriginal youth conference in Open Space. Most of the participants were government workers, and a few were Aboriginal youth.

It is damn near impossible to get across the idea that a theme must be visceral when you can't gaze into people's eyes, but we came up with another litmus test. When I asked how one draft of the theme grabbed people, comeone said "grabbed me where?" to which I replied "well....where DID it grab you." She replied that it grabbed her around the ankles. I asked what it would take to make it grab her in the gut.

From that point on we checked in with the theme by referring to anatomy. Whe we got something I would ask where it grabbed people, and the replies would tell us about how close we were.

After a time an Inuit youth blurted out the line that would become the theme and there was silence. I suggested that her contribution grabbed me in the gut and everyone else agreed. We dwelled on the moment for a second. What does it feel like to be grabbed in the gut like that? How is it dnifferent from where we were being grabbed earlier?

The process worked well, as it got people in touch with the little spark of passion that we are going to be fanning into flames in a month or so. I think that I would say that this is a taste of OST, for those who haven't experienced it: you will be invited to be grabbed in the gut.

I'll return to this little tool when I'm next working with bureaucrats on a conference call...trying to re-introduce the concept of feeling into work.

MichaelHerman posted 09-10-2001 11:52 AM

hee hee hee... am so glad to see some visceral shtuff showing up here, especially after being on retreat last week practicing the connections between pelvis, heart and brain... more guts, more caring, more clarity, all touching and moving together. simple enough, but now easy, being powerful, generous and smart all at once!

have often been aware of invitations and themes and ideas in general coming from brain-clarity, and also from heart-caring... but coming from guts, power, deep creative urges... not so often for me. so really like the guts part of this.

the "grabbing" is not so on target for me though. wondering if we could ask about what is "bubbling" out of brain, heart and guts... what would we do if we were really knowing? what if we really cared? and what if we had *real* guts to *move* forward, not grabbing from arms/heart, but really moving on strong legs.

ChrisCorrigan? -- posted 09-11-2001 12:19 AM

About grabbing....I have this image that something in a good invitation literally lifts people out of thei chairs in a motion that seems as if they are being drawn up from the solar plexus. That's really the spot at which I strive for themes to grab someone. It's a litmus test, to gauge how successful we have been at identifying the authentic bubbling that has happened within the conversation about the theme.

I love the questions...formulating questions is my favourite part of facilitating, especially the questions that go to soliciting the theme.

And I have to say lately Michael, that I have been seeing the world as a swirling mass of invitation. And my practice since OSonOS? has been, like you, to pay special attention to those invitations and see where they take me. Lately they have taken me into a Evensong choir at the little United Church here on Bowen Island, where, for a half hour every two weeks, we sing chants and meditative music fr the benefit of those Islanders who want to spend some time with their thoughts/Spirit?. Part of the service includes a time when people can come forward and light a small votive candle. It looks and feels like an Open space meeting: the small choir chanting away and various people becoming moved enough to walk to the front of the sanctuary and light a candle.Invitation leading to invitation leading to...

MichaelHerman -- posted feb 01, 2004

yes to the lifting us out of our chairs... but that's not the invitation doing the lifting... it's our legs and pelvis doing the lifting... because heart is aroused and wanting to move in this new direction pointed out by the invitation. invitations should stir our hearts, and hearts will find the legs we need to move forward together. brains, and the extrusions of brain that we call eyes, will keep us from bumping into things.