Two things that aren’t as easy as they sound

I often use Open Space working with groups. I suspect that we often choose approaches that have something to teach us… a bit like the saying We all teach what we most need to learn.

Or as I say the cobbler’s children may well have holes in their shoes.. but that doesn’t make him a bad cobbler.

Anyhow as with all processes, Open Space has its fans and its detractors. But one of the things I find exciting about it is that it asks people – including me – to do two things that sound simple, but in practice can be quite difficult.

First, it asks: what is it we really want? That sounds simple but I know I often lose track of what I really want, and end up sucked into routines and habits that aren’t very enlivening. And like other human beings, when I get to this place I often get frustrated and start demanding things that I probably don’t really want at all.

Second, it then suggests that we ask for what we want in a reasonably direct way. And that’s also harder than it sounds. We live in a culture that often seems to prize indirectness, hinting and manipulation. Being clear about what we want increases the risk of rejection, and it makes us stand out. In some organisations, it can be quite unrealistic to expect people to take this risk.

In my subjective experience, the best offers in open space are the unadorned and the rough edged. I suspect we have a good ear for other people’s inauthenticity, even if not our own.

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