The trouble with stuff

Often at the end of a lively open space, there are participants who say things would have been better with more structure, and/or express anxiety that things may have happened in conversations that they don’t know about. Both these thoughts strike me as related to a scarcity world view where ideas are hard to come by, and need to be nailed down rapidly so as not to be scattered to the winds.

With this goes a desire for reporting which often turns out to be about proving to an absent boss that the day was not a waste of time.

I wonder if we could call it Golden Egg Thinking… the obsession with knowledge “capture”, intellectual “property”, identifying “deliverables”.

In the fairytale, they kill the golden goose, but in organisations I think we often don’t actually think about where the goose is… because we’re so anxious/overexcited about the eggs.

What people seem to like about Open Space is the freedom it gives them to spend time as they please, and they’re often pleasantly suprised how productive they find the conversations they join. I sometimes think it’s this abundance that triggers the anxiety for structure: this energy is so unaccustomed that surely we must balance it out with some bureaucracy to keep it in check? I’m even tempted to suggest the call for “action points” is a kind of neurotic desire to deny the alarming amount of energy and action that is manifesting…

Anyhow, I was very pleased to find this delightful 10 minute Youtube of my mate Roland Harwood saying stuff that feels closely related. Asked to talk about “Objects of Desire” he declined to pick an object at all, in favour of the importance of waves. Here’s a little of how he describes his thinking:

I’ve never been a big fan of owning ‘stuff’. I prefer to live and travel light. I’d much prefer to have access to things I want, when I want them, rather than owning stuff which is why I love services like Streetcar (the pay as you go car) and Spotify (allows access, not ownership, of tonnes of music). And I get the feeling I’m increasingly not alone… And yet most businesses and organisations I speak to are overly dominated by product/object based thinking; a legacy of the 20th Century rise of mass industrialised business models pioneered by Henry Ford et al.

I had a great chat with Roland the other day where we shared our experiences of meditation, and I think we share a fascination with how the idea of the the unmanifested and the paradoxes involved in its relationship to the manifest.

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