talking last week with a small group, that included josh kerievsky as a
participant and modern agile (especially safety) as the subject, several
points stood out and might be relevant here.

one is the importance of suspending assumptions.  in dialogue practice it
relates to holding assumptions separate from oneself, so that they might be
examined by ourselves and others without risk to ourselves.  in open space,
the work with leaders and givens seems akin to this, clarifying what can be
held out for consideration during the meeting.  the suggestion to be
prepared to be surprised leans in this direction too, i think.

second is the quality of listening.  in dialogue circles, the invitation is
to listen to oneself, listen to others, listen to the group (patterns,
whole), and listen up for what is coming in from above or just beyond the
group.  some of what i hear in brian's archived message relates to the
space into which people can speak and move and be heard and seen and part
of what is emerging.

third, josh brought a story about the importance of assuming positive
intent.  we invite this in open space via the law of two feet, where we
invite and assume everyone into learning and contributing as much as they
can, and also when we look around the circle at the opening and notice that
everyone in the big circle is there because they care, and then everyone
who shows up in a breakout is again there because of caring.  in open space
we assume and invite caring.

finally, there is invitation itself.  safe and welcome are subjective, but
inviting can be more objective.  it's something we can do as well as be.
 true invitation gives people a choice.  when space invaders pop up, the
facilitator's aim is to maintain room for people to make choices for
themselves, even if only by modeling that one can always get up and take a
break, take a walk, opt out.  when people show up by their own choice, and
then move and speak and lead and follow, all by their own choice, this
seems the bedrock of safety, what we used to call "challenge by choice" in
teambuilding programs.

in these ways, and probably others, we don't hardly have to do or add
anything to the essence of what we already know as open space.  and then
it's up to each participant to decide if their space, in any moment, is
safe or scary space.  and then decide what to do about that.


Michael Herman
Michael Herman Associates
312-280-7838 (mobile)

On Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 5:09 PM, Michael M Pannwitz via OSList <> wrote:

> Dear Chris,
> to me it was the concept of
> "A nutrient-rich, relatively protected environment"
> as one of the conditions under which the force of self-organisation could
> thrive.
> (If you look into the "Power of Spirit - How Organizations Transform" you
> can see the other 4 on page 42.)
> "A relatively protected environment" is something quite different from a
> safe space if there even could be such a space.
> "A nutrient-rich, relatively protected environment" looks like one of the
> components that would contribute to a welcoming space.
> As I read your post I kept looking for the concrete situation you had in
> mind. Is there one?
> In the more practical aspect of a "relatively protected environment",
> there are some things in planning an open space that do matter. In Germany
> there are safety regulations regarding the number of chairs allowed in a
> room and the allowed patterns in which they are arranged and their
> proximity to emergency exits(fire department) and the use of materials that
> could catch fire (paper, pinwalls made of cardboard, gas filled balloons,
> cushions on the floor, etc) and the requirements on smoke detectors... and
> if your meeting space is in certain high risk buildings security guards
> and/or police are required to be present...
> Systemic oppression, forced silence and the more frightening givens you
> are mentioning probably do not jive with a "relatively protected
> environment"...
> Greetings from Berlin
> mmp
> On 21.09.2016 20:16, Harold Shinsato via OSList 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.
>> --
>> Harold Shinsato
>> <>
>> twitter: @hajush <>
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> --
> Michael M Pannwitz
> Draisweg 1, 12209 Berlin, Germany
> ++49 - 30-772 8000
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