Are you going to pull it together at the end?

This is question I get asked a lot in meetings especially those with more conversational and participatory formats like Open Space.

It’s what’s expected of a facilitator isn’t it?

Increasingly my answer is a form or words that boils down to: No.

I think it’s often more useful for diverse groups of people within the meeting to pull themselves together around the subjects that interest them. If we try to get a diverse bunch of people to all agree on something at the end we’re likely to go for something bland, or get a kind of fake assent that really means, “I’ll agree to this so that we can all go home.”

Organisations of any size are remarkably complex. They achieve what they do not by everyone following the exact same rules, but by a less predictable series of partly co-ordinated behaviours.

It’s a network, and it has multiple, changing connections. Trying to stand at the end as if we’re all mean to connect around a central person, picture, list of ideas seems a bit flawed to me.

For endings, I like processes that allow everyone, on reasonably equal terms, to share their excitement, concern, ideas, desires for action. Without a big pressure to coalesce around abstractions. I’m struck that what often results is a less precise, but still tangible sense, that we can all carry on together…

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