Michael Herman
Inviting Agility

 
 
 

snipped from the global chicago weblog...

Monday, June 09, 2003

inviting leadership - Penny Scott phoned from the BowenIsland/Vancouver? ferry last week to share this from fellow Chicagoan John McKnight?, a leader in the development of Asset-Based Community Development...

Service systems can never be reformed so they will produce care. Care is the consenting commitment of citizens to one another. Care cannot be produced, privileged, managed, organized, administered or commodified. Care is the only thing a system cannot produce. Every institutional effort to replace the real thing is a counterfeit.

Care is, indeed, the manifestation of a community. The community is the site for the relationships of citizens. And it is at this site that the primary work of a caring society must occur. If that site is invaded, co-opted, overwhelmed, and dominated by service-producing institutions, then the work of the community will fail. And the failure is manifest in families collapsing, schools failing, violence spreading, medical systems spinning out of control, justice systems becoming overwhelmed, prisons burgeoning, and human services degenerating.Notice, too, that as systems degrade, the results show up as complexity of issues, real or potential conflict, increasing urgency and a real diversity of people and perspectives needed for resolution -- exactly the conditions wherein Open Space Technology works best! It doesn't cause the chaos, it merely acknowledges the truth of it -- and gives us room to deal with it peacefully and productively.

Having just posted an updated version of my own paper, InvitingOrganizationEmerges, I will hasten to add that while really open space and genuine care cannot ever be produced by a system, they always be invited by anyone of us who already really cares. This, it seems, is the real work of leadership today... to invite care. And the only way to invite it is to be it... and be willing to be caught in the act.

posted by MichaelHerman at 10:42 AM | comments(0)


June 10th...

inviting leadership continued - Coming back to the John McKnight? quote posted yesterday...

Care is, indeed, the manifestation of a community. The community is the site for the relationships of citizens. And it is at this site that the primary work of a caring society must occur. If that site is invaded, co-opted, overwhelmed, and dominated by service-producing institutions, then the work of the community will fail.

Much of "management" and other forms of organizational leadership will rightly fall into this category of "service-producing" that invades and degrades our community living and working space. When management attempts to do thinking, caring, deciding, energizing, learning and other things FOR people that people can, in fact, do for themselves, the work of the organization eventually fails. On the other hand, when leaders invite passion and responsibility in Open Space, the work of the organization eventually flourishes. And so it becomes a question of time. If you're in it for the long haul, best to aim for eventual success!

...and on the subject of being "caught in the act of caring" at work, i say this not unfamiliar with the dangers inherent in such a willingness. so i will add a plug here for an excellent shield. Peter Frost's new book Toxic Emotions at Work: How Compassionate Managers Handle Pain and Conflict is based on research done at two major business schools and is published by Harvard Business Press. It does an excellent job of laying out the current needs, real dangers and practical options for caring at work.

posted by MichaelHerman at 8:39 AM | comments(0) Comment