Wow - thank you Peggy and Birgitt - very valuable.

I'm curious about two things. What is the difference between focus on welcoming, and a focus on safety - and how can the sponsor help make the space welcoming?


The second - the reason safety has become much more important to me is the story of the Aluminum Company of America as told in the book "The Power of Habit", the company was turned around by making safety the priority. The CEO said, "If you want to understand how Alcoa is doing, you need to look at our workplace safety figures." He was saying that profits were less an indication of the health and future prospects of the company than safety. And as a result, the end result was much more profits as well as growth.

One of the pioneers of Agile Software development, Joshua Kerievsky, made this one of the four pillars of "Modern Agile". You can look that up, but part of what it says is "Make Safety a Prerequisite: Safety is both a basic human need and a key to unlocking high performance. We actively make safety a prerequisite by establishing safety before engaging in any hazardous work."

I notice some of the prior OSList posts about safety was that Open Space helped grow safety. But it's probably not helpful to "make safety a prerequisite" before convening an open space event. But perhaps that's really just a given. An unstated prerequisite of any welcoming invitation. Will you help me resolve my discomfort around letting this question go?

    Thanks!
    Harold

On 9/21/16 11:40 AM, Birgitt Williams via OSList wrote:
Hi Harold,
I believe that the greatest issues about safety come about when a facilitator attempts to reassure people that 'this is safe space'. We can never know if the space for conversations is actually safe, despite the safeguards built in by the four principles and the one law of OST. Those who choose to enact their leadership into the unknown, taking risks, being vulnerable, will do so....maybe now, maybe at a subsequent meeting. Those who for whatever reason need to hold back will do so.

Even to assure people that they have some responsibility for safety in themselves assumes too much. People take risks, they may know or not know the consequences that might come about, the collateral damage that might ensue. People cannot be responsible for even personal safety as it is not within their control.

And so I agree with what Peggy has offered as an alternative. The concept of welcoming space. This takes me to my concept that the facilitator doesn't open the welcoming space for the meeting....it must be the sponsor who does so.

Great question Harold!
Birgitt

On Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 2:32 PM Peggy Holman via OSList <oslist@lists.openspacetech.org <mailto:oslist@lists.openspacetech.org>> wrote:

    Great question Harold! I always wince when people say the space
    needs to be safe. If you make space so safe that it leaves the
    opportunity for messiness out, nothing happens. Sometimes I’ve
    said "safe enough”. Ultimately, as you said, a sense of safety
    comes from within.

    Rather than safety, I have come to focus on welcoming space. (With
    a nod to Juanita Brown, who helped me to understand the value of
    welcoming.) A spirit of welcome creates conditions for who and
    what shows up. And if you start cultivating a culture of welcome,
    then there’s room for all voices — and those who come discover
    they belong.

    Peggy




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    On Sep 21, 2016, at 11:16 AM, Harold Shinsato via OSList
    <oslist@lists.openspacetech.org
    <mailto:oslist@lists.openspacetech.org>> wrote:

    Dear People(s) of Open Space,

    What is the importance of safety? What, if any, work is needed in
    the "pre-work" to help ensure safety?

    It seems that safety is doomed if the "givens" are that the
    people in the organization must either be silent or agree with
    the "powers that be" on everything.

    I'm seeing two aspects to this. At one level, systemic oppression
    (such as explicitly killing, imprisoning, or otherwise
    effectively punishing dissent) clearly would shut down any
    opening in an open space.

    And at another level, safety is something we can be responsible
    in ourselves. With enough passion and courage, we can take
    responsibility for own safety. And also, it can be easy just to
    stay silent, or not to look beyond the smallness of our comfort
    zone because of the lenses we look through. And then we won't
    even try something out of fear, when something powerful could
    have been a result of us taking a small step (or a small series
    of steps to the center of the circle).

    What do you all think about safety, and helping to encourage
    people to source their own safety, as well as working with the
    "powers that be" to help ensure some level of safety?

        Thanks!
        Harold

    P.S. I did find one interesting post about this in the archives
    from the late Father Brian Bainbridge.
    http://www.mail-archive.com/oslist@lists.openspacetech.org/msg01333.html


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