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My last point for your consideration (for the time being) is the following: based on an accepted set of "foundations" and a clarification do the "spirit of OST" can we define some "meta-foundations of OST"? By "Meta-foundations" I want to refer to more general foundations that:


From my experience in the Strategic Planning Business (specially for IS/IT) I have discovered long ago that to observe the operational activities and sometimes even previous "strategic statements" is not enough. One has to question always if the proclaimed (and sometimes even espoused) values correspond, or not, with the "theories in use" that are manifest when we observe other practices on completing different things from the ones that are at stake, and specially when we analyze the "form" and not only the "content", or, on the contrary, apply some "content analysis" to differentiate the superficial message in the "first level" with the more profound "second-level message". And one has to observe "congruencies" and "incongruencies" between those different plans.


Back to OST, and as many of you know, I have recently re-read Harrison Owen's "OST User's Guide" to compare the Brazilian version (that I DID NOT translate) with the American one. And I was struck again by the way HO so clearly states a Vision and Values that afterwords are almots lost in the lists of "principles" and "foundations" (and completelly lost in some sub-groups within the OST community of practitionners), but are, IMHO, the meta-foundations of OST - if not even the most important part of the "spirit of OST".

Based on some quotations from the Preface to the second edition of the User's Guide (UG), I will try to show that:


I will begin quoting, Harrison, immediately from the first words of the Preface:

One thing must be made clear from the outset. Open Space Technology (OST) is not the proprietary product of H.H. Owen and Company. This is not a matter of altruism or as some might suspect, pure madness. Although my name is most closely associated with the approach, its design, and its development, it is a fact that the creation of OST has been a colaborative project involving perhaps thousands of people on four continents over a period of 12 years. Some were participants, some were practionners, and all were contributors. In addition, many of the basic ideas come from a small West Africa village, the traditions of Native Americans, and the wisdom of the East. The list could go on and on, but the point is that OST is a world Product

There are many and very important lessons we can take from here.

The first point is that HO is stating a clear Vision and some very profound ethical Values. He doesn’t want to be the "owner" of something that has many other contributors and reflects the cultures of many peoples. Because of that he is refusing OST to be registered as such, or trade marketed, because it doesn't belong 100% to him. And if OST does not belong to him, for sure, with this name or any other, it does not belong to anyone else!

The second point is that he is clearly "exaggerating" - no one would question his right to trademark OST (and all "derivatives" - as the law states) even if he was only the author of say "95%" of it. If he has decided to exaggerate is perhaps to create conditions so that no one (with much less reason for that) would NEVER do a similar thing. For protecting OST for being copy-righted, trademarked or franchised at any moment.

But this means also an ethical gift to all humanity and especially to all OST practitioners. They are protected from ever being subjected to imposed OST trainings, by "professional bodies" or individuals, that would impose "certification examinations", based on courses that only them could give - hence making a living from exploiting the other professionals, like it is done, for instance, between the professional of "IT Project Management" (I can give details on that if anyone is interested).

And HO continues

There is also the practical matter that a number of people in a number of places are already using OST, without my say-so or sanction - a situation in which I profoundly rejoice.

Presented as a "practical question", this is again an ethical one. HO "profoundly rejoices" that others are using OST without is knowing, because he chose to not trademark it, to not receive fees from their fellow practitioners for "certification training", nor commissions for using a trade marked method.

In conclusion, years before "CopyLeft?" appeared, HO decided to create an "Open Source" methodology, so that anyone that reads the OST User's Guide, if he/she feels to have "a good head and a good heart" may begin to use the method, without having to ask anyone, to follow any pre-requisite courses, to go through any certification programs. And he or she can stay connected with the community, and learn more through the Openspaceworld sites or the OSLIST.

In this conditions, it is useless and inconvenient for someone to state who "trained" him/her. Except maybe for the first practicionners, we all have been trained, directly or indirectly, by Harrison. But some of us have been trained or learned OST including this meta-foundations. Some others have been indoctrinated to reverence their trainers in an unapropriate way as if they were gurus of a religious order or Reiki "masters".

If a methodology is called "Open Space" can you imagine any other way of behaving that is "congruent" with its Open nature? Is it not the "Open Source" nature of OST a fundamental "meta-foundation" from where the other foundations derive?

And also:

The book is simple, and unashamedly, a user's guide, designated do ASSIST those who want to facilitate Open Space. It is filled with trade craft as seen and practicized by myself. Others will see it and do it differently, which is Wonderfull.

This defines that HO is not only detached from outcome in each event he facilitates, but also even in what concerns the methodology he initiated. He is too much interested in truth to be interested in a priori defending "his truth" from the truth of others. He knows very well that the "requisite diversity" is needed not only in biology, or in each OST event, but even in the OST community of practitioners if the method is to progress and adapt instead of being formalized for death in a couple of cook-books, to assure "repeatability"...or anything else...

And the Preface ends with this:

So use this book as seems fitting, and please join me in what has been, and will continue to be, a marvelous co-creative adventure. Of course there is one small responsibility that accompanies this invitation. Please share what you discover and we will all be the richer.

I assume HO intended to say "Please share freely with all of us"...

And he also says that any new facilitators are invited to "join him" DIRECTLY in this adventure and NOT through any intermediates.

Anyhow, this clarifies, IMHO, what are some meta-foundations of OST as well as what is the "spirit of OST".



You can add your comments between the two lines above or you can go back to the "main line" in SpiritofOST.

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