Michael Herman
Opening Space for Business Agility

 
 
 
OpenSpaceTechnology/InvitingOrganizationAddendum is an ongoing record of "real world" stories that seem to fit nicely into the map borrowed from Ken Wilber and re-spun in organization terms as InvitingOrganizationEmerges.

Collected Weblog Entries: Connecting and Aligning Power, Passion (Kindness?) and Vision (Brilliance?) in Organizations and Communities


Friday, August 08, 2003

Opening on Bowen Island

Technically, I am (at this very moment) in the middle of facilitating a community gathering here on Bowen Island, 18 minutes (by ferry) west of Vancouver BC Canada. Our gathering question and purpose is "How Can We Make Snug Cove an Inviting Place to Live, Work and Play?" We are using OpenSpaceTechnology and the participants are all off working now, so I've plenty of time make this entry. Today is the first day of a two day meeting. Here are the invitation for this event and the Institute that we've created to be one of the sponsors and official spaceholders for this work. As local organizer Chris Corrigan says, the Institute started as a joke, but then it got serious. And when it gets too serious, it gets to be a joke again. In the meantime, there are a bunch of people here talking about things that they care about, listening to each other's ideas, and coming up with new ways to address ongoing community challenges together.


Saturday, August 09, 2003

Day Two, Bowen Island and Beyond

Just finished another opening here on Bowen. Participants all out now in conversation. This is the second of two days on "How Can We Make Snug Cove an Inviting Place to Live Work and Play?" It's mostly a new group of people today, and still we seem to be going deeper. Amazing to watch meaning move through community.

What we are doing here is community dialogue. AND some high tech mapping and modelling. AND some municipal decision-making on key issues that have a tremendous impact on the feel and the future of a very special little cove, the cozy little entrance to this island home for about 3000 people. We are beginning to establish the dialogue/inviting and the mapping/visualization processes as long-term practices, to add caring embrace and clear vision to the usual financial/political power of ongoing municipal government. We think this active and conscious connecting of power, caring and vision is fairly unique in communities. We think it will have quite a positive effect here on Bowen Island.

We are also excited to have friends and colleagues from Jerusalem here taking notes, so that what we are doing might add something to positive there as well. There is also some talk of our working there together next year. The key, as our visiting friend Avner Haramati points out, is to do our little works and not think any of it is too important. Little by little, peace and community do and will arrive.


Thursday, August 14, 2003

Embodying Community

Had an interesting conversation with Murray Journeay and Penny Scott on the ferry on the way out of town... a chance to work a bit more on this notion of wholeness in community, a chance to talk through this view of community as being and body.

Looking at our three dimensional process of community development there, we considered Municipal Government as power, finance, and pelvis. It is the underlying power structure that can move things forward and can support/hold a space for our Community Dialogues. Those conversations, which we just held in OpenSpaceTechnology, are where we invite contribution, caring, and connection in an inclusive, embracing sort of way. This is the heart of community, which needs the power and funding support of the Municipal Council and out of which bubbles up visions and stories and ideas. The most compelling of these bubbles feed the brain of the place, the Community Viz mapping and visualization process. It's that process that looks around and ahead so that the community grows in smart ways.

If we notice that the Municipal movement is guided directly by what comes out of the Mapping brain, then we see that the energy of the community moves in a circular, up-and-down way very similar to energy moving through individual human bodies. The route to well-being can be the similar too, aligning, nesting, resting down, easing together, trusting the different and essential contributions of each, letting each one touch and inform the others.

Want to work more on how people, groups and processes do this. Also, how does this translate into organizational terms. This seems to offer the possibility of an organic, human approach to organization and community working that transcends and includes specific methods, tools and techniques. This springs directly from my work with Julie Henderson and Zapchen Somatics.


Saturday, August 23, 2003

Purpose and Practice

Am in the middle of two months of being away from home, at work on several projects, immersed in local practice communities, and still wired to the world online, all at the same time. Purpose seems to clarify itself in such times. This morning I described my work as Inviting, Encouraging, Informing People and Organizations that Work.

Also noticing practices like OpenSpaceTechnology, ZapchenSomatics?, NonViolent? Communication, PatternLanguage, Toxin Handling (Managing w/ Compassion) and WritingOnline? as core. If I can just keep extending and expanding my understanding and capacity to practice forms and languages and languages like these, it seems that everything else will work and flow for the best. The right sidebar has links to most of these.


Friday, August 29, 2003

Gathering Charge

Many conversations this week have revolved around Power. Municipal decision-making, funding issues, the business case for compassion, and preparations for leading a Zapchen day here on Bowen Island tomorrow.

This all has me sensing into Power, Movement, Base, Support. Noticing that pelvis isn't the actual power, but rather holds a space for the power that radiates from an Open Heart. Pelvis is the seat of Power. So too with government and business executives, their offices are the seats of Power, not the Power itself. Leaders hold a space for that Power which is all of us working together.

Peter Frost, author of Toxic Emotions at Work, reminded me this week that it's not just Heart, but also liver, kidneys, etc that are needed to pump and process the stuff that moves through us and keeps us going. The healing/cleaning, embracing/radiating and moving/working are not separate. Peter, ChrisCorrigan? and I have started working on an invitation for ToxicHandlers? to gather in OpenSpaceTechnology to see what we can create together, for ourselves, our organizations, and our many other worlds. Conference dates will be late May, 2004.

In the meantime, we'll do the first Zapchen workshop here on Bowen tomorrow... introducing some simple practices that, as Julie Henderson says, help us feel as good as we can in spite of everything. One participant called this week to sign up: "...wanting to get some of those ZappyBits," she says, quoting the only thing she could remember from our invitation. As the calls come in, and we laugh here about "ZappyBits," the Zapchen story is gathering charge -- power for the practice that will be all of us moving together tomorrow.


Sunday, September 7, 2003

Aligning Bigger Bodies

Continuing to play with this notion of organizations and communities as (bigger) bodies: pelvis as base and seat of power, OpenSpaceTechnology community or strategic dialogues as heart, and mapping, planning and visualization as brain. Thinking about how the shape of government, community and development on Bowen Island can rest and move more easily as a whole body, rather than divided into council discussions, private he-said, she-said conversations, and a coterie of local experts and visionaries each nurturing individually brilliant visions for the future of the Island.

Thinking too about what Anne Ironside is telling me about the visionary work of Frithjof Bergmann needing to be grounded locally, her own work in developing the UBC Women's Employment Center on the ground here in Vancouver needing vision, and both of those needing something in between wherein the brilliance and the action can mix. Anne tells me that she thinks my work in OpenSpaceTechnology, practice groups, community dialogue and organic organization can help make these connections. In body terms again, this makes OpenSpaceTechnology and community dialogues the Heart, resting into the bowl of Anne's local programming and informed by the vision of Bergmann.

Sitting in group meditation Sunday morning with Lisa Barrett, Bowen Island mayor, my mind returns again and again the question she and I and others have been rolling around with for the last several weeks here: How does the formality of the municipal council, the passion and openness of community dialogue, and the vision of the mapping process here all fit together in a whole (healthy) Island community body? What would normally be a distraction from the meditation work becomes fodder for it, expands it, transcends it, includes it. Early in the session, I decide that it's only through the pulsation between awareness of individual body and awareness of community body can this question be answered.

Here is what happened next...

Rocking on my cushion, resting my own heart and organic body down into the bowl of pelvis, I noticed that the formal Council structure, noted earlier as essential suppport for the heart of community dialogues in OpenSpace, has a rhythm to it. As my heart rests into pelvis, learns to relax and trust that support, I notice that the Community Dialogues need to rest into the rhythm of Council meetings. The dialogues have their own rhythm, their own pulse, the pulse of the whole community, like the heart in body. And the proceedings from those events need to come whole and be reported into the formal record at Council, in the normal structure, format and rhythm of Council. In those reporting sessions, Council can respond with questions and comment AND community folks who are present can have public comment, as well.

Notice that this public comment is the public commenting on their own work, in Community Dialogue, rather than pushing on or berating Council on it's own work. The presence of this separate but supported Community Dialogue heart also gives Council a place to refer those who would make impassioned speeches and demands of Council on various issues. Council could simply say, "Thank you for your passion, why don't you raise that in the Community Dialogues and bring us what you work out: what you can do, what others have agreed to do, what must be done by Council and your understanding of the implications of all of that."

As the questions taken up in Community Dialogue get more complex, some form of mapping, analysis and visualization becomes useful. Brain takes its visionary perch above the Heart, sorting out the options and implications and reporting back in the flow of Dialogues and minutes of Council meetings.

Each way of being supports and is supported by the others, informs and is informed by the others. Each has its own rhythm and movement. Each makes a unique and valuable (essential) contribution to the Whole body. In this way, visionary ideas that arise in the Heart of Community Dialogue can be brought to Visualization/Planning? for analysis and to formal consideration and action by Council. Notions that arise in the course of analysis can be dropped into the Heart of the Dialogue where they can be dropped or embraced. If embraced they can be brought formally to Council for action steps forward. Meanwhile, Council can refer any issue or person for holding and massaging in Dialogue and/or analysis by the Strategic/Visualization? Brain.

Almost all of this is actually happening already, on Bowen and in many other communities and organizations, large and small. Bowen actually has a thing they call the "Committee of the Whole" that meets and works in lieu of the usual fragmented committee structure. What seems to be missing is the support connections between the pelvic power base in Council and the OpenSpace Heart of Community Dialogues. But before this can happen, Council (or any other formal seat of power) needs to know itself as that seat, as a Whole. The seat of the Whole needs to be aware of itself as a Whole. Without this wholeness in the seat, leadership dissolves into so many legs hopping lamely in so many different, unstable and ultimately unproductive directions.

This is where OpenSpaceTechnology can help leaders come together in ways that support and can be supported by larger and larger groups of people coming together. So the really big issues can be dealt with in equally big and whole ways.


Furthermore, this ought to work the same way in organization. Power, Processing, Strategy. Pelvis, Heart, Brain. Moving Leadership, Passionate Responsibility, Visionary Analysis. Executive Administration, Getting the Job Done, Looking out into the Future. Need to detail how these things can support and be supported by each other, how organization can literally embody a truly functional wholeness.


Seems that these practices or their equivalent would be essential, but could never be mandated directly, in any such organization:


Funny how I keep coming up with five levels... individual bodies, organization body, information communication, open space marketplaces, global working culture ...and four quadrants... brain vision, heart wholeness, pelvis support, legs that move us forward. All stacked and swirled together, holarchy and order without and beyond dominance. And since there is no dominance, we can literally start practicing anywhere -- any quadrant, any level, any practice, any issue -- and quickly come to embody the Whole.


Need to add notes from and links to Donnella Meadows article on Points of Leverage for Intervening in Systems. Also Dave Pollard's summary of same. Then a note that what Meadows leaves out is that as we go up her ladder of leverage points, it does get harder to make changes happen, but less changing is necessary... as we go up it's more and more about gathering awareness and noticing, and less and less about doing or changing anything. Until we notice that we already are all together and whole.

Then we can get on with toxin handling work and the ToxinHandlerConferenceInvitation work.


Sept 23...

talking with ChrisCorrigan? about implications of marrying ZappyBits (Zapchen Somatics http://www.zapchen.com) and OpenSpaceTechnology into SomaticOrganization... brain/nervous system, heart/liver circulatory system, muscle/bone skeletal system based on legs and pelvis... toxin handler bit gets rolled in when liver is married into heart/circ system...

then got talking about 'results in open space' and noticed that they are illusory... empty... as in what actually constitutes a result has no boundary, no edge... corporate groups have long meetings where nothing is accomplished short of a lot of powerpoint yammering and then demand ost produce 'results' and not just talking... no results, no edges, no causation reminded me of no eye, no ear, no tongue of the heart sutra, and dzogchen teaching that points out the emptiness of all forms, including our bodies... so this opened the possibility of a 'heart of organization sutra' or if OpenSpaceTechnology is the functional heart of organization, then it would be the 'Open Space Sutra' as translation of classic HeartSutra.

Sept 30...

when we start translating literally a bit, just for fun, we say of organization, no this, no that, no meeting starting time, no meeting ending time, no results, no work... and with no work it seems we come close to naming the 20 hours of weekly non-working that Frithjof Bergmann has been suggesting that we will all have to learn to manage, as productivity and other major shifts reduces the time we will be directly engaged in paid employment. open space then also seems to have a lot to offer in terms of practicing 'freedom', about which he has written (but which i have yet to really explore).

so it's all fitting together.


some other bits noticed in the last week or so...


Some related books...