The inviting organization emerges from everything and everywhere we've already been, and indeed still are. The emergence of passion, curiosity, health and well-being at work come not at the expense of excitement, security and achievement. They come as the fruits of it. The excitement comes not from the outside, but from the rush of bringing our own personal art to the outside, at work. The security comes not from knowing this job or organization will last, but from knowing who we are and that we have options beyond this one. And while we still get things done, we do them better than ever because they are the things we see as most important to do.
Similarly, the emergence of strategic invitation and strategic conversation does not come at the expense of the strategic plan, but comes on top of it, animating and detailing it like never before. Every invitation, from the largest, company-wide strategic planning conference to the simplest "Joe and Susie are moving to California, come help us pack them up and send them off" gathering of friends is built on the same information: (1) the news, headlines or theme, (2) the mission, vision, values, and (3) the expectations and plans. In the case of Joe and Susie, the news is that they're moving. The values are love, friendship, community. The plan is for everyone to bring boxes and tape and for Joe and Susie to keep the pizza and beer coming until their stuff is all packed.
The strategic corporate invitation does the same: some news that needs attention, the boundaries, budget, and other known constraints, and the logistical details for where and when the working session will be convened. The invitation includes all the levels of story below it, and transcends them as something smaller, faster, clearer, stronger. They look like soundbites, but move at the speed of the grapevine, with the simplicity of a to-do lisi and the power of the entire strategic plan. And as we move beyond the soundbites, the mission statements and the plans, posting their essences in strategic invitation and hosting our most important work in strategic conversations, we transcend command-and-control, as well.
Command relies on the bartender, pilot, captain or other executive who can be heard over all the others. Control relies on measurement and constant observation. As we move beyond command-and-control into a world of post-and-host, we don't discard these things, we expand them. Over time, the initial cast grows into team, becomes bureaucracy, dissolves into network. When it finally blooms into marketplace, it allows EVERYONE to be heard over the turbulence of the work and demands that EVERYONE be paying attention to maximizing their own learning and contribution. In our most highly evolved organizations, ANYONE can post an invitation and host a working conversation to address business issues AS THEY ARISE and everyone can see all of the invitations, the entire work of their organization.
Finally, as our work evolves, we don't stop making appearances and discovering new and different things, we don't stop making deliveries and making good on commitments, and don't stop expecting a return on investment. But the nature of these things changes and merges. Most notably, as our circles expand and bloom into marketplace, we notice that we benefit from all kinds of unexpected contributions by others. As this happens, we contribute more easily and actively because we don't expect our returns to come as quickly or directly. Our commitments become pledges to stay together, stay present, until the work is done, as long as it takes. And finally, the appearances we begin to invite and be excited by are no longer about our moments to shine, but those moments when spirit appears and shines through others.
The inviting organization emerges and re-emerges out of personal passion and artistry, strategic invitation and conversation, an open community marketplace, and the responsible pursuit of learning and contribution. It is truly extraordinary, and not where most of us live and work everyday. But it does happen -- and happen with regularity. It has appeared in most of the Open Space meetings and events I've facilitated. And when the work of those gatherings closes, the waves of thank yous, amazings and extraordinaries have been heard, I always remind the group that while the inviting organization that emerges in open space IS extraordinary, it need not be rare. Indeed, the passion and responsibility, clarity and quickness that is the inviting organization can be invited easily and often, in Open Space and otherwise, by the intentional practice of invitation at work.