Issue:Advantages (if any) of OST for business executives.

Convenor:Fr Brian S. Bainbridge

Participants:Dr Christa Fischer, Antti-Juhani Wihari, Eva P. Svensson, Michael Molenaar, Annette Hartvig Larsen, Gail West, Mona Sandberg, Sven Schmidt, Inge Struck Jorgensen, Kerry Napuk, Marei Kiele.

Summary of the meeting:

CHRISTA: Manager, in an Open Space, has to kneel down and write on the floor, to be part of something less-than-professional in presentation, etc. Not a good thing.

Annette: In an OST, I get to see the world as it really is - real. Very hard, as a manager, to be ready for that : e.g. people's non-readiness for change, economy factors not what I had expected, gap between management and people, then get to understand where to start in change so not to be mistaken as I would otherwise be. KNOWING the truth about where the organization is up to, at all levels. It's painful, but truthful. My starting point is vital.

It is also (Antti-Juhani) a tool to really know this data.

Using inside/outside facilitator matters as you see the situation. Outsiders are sometimes a bit easier. Always start with sponsor/manager presentation(Annette). Body language matters hugely in telling people about integrity.

Managers, generally (Antti-Juhani) already know a great deal about chaos, creativity, flatter organisation structure, etc, sort of. There is already some readiness on these topics.

Looking to goals (Christa) is vital, as managers see it. In a way, that makes it harder to embrace OST. There are 2 worlds, not connected. Need to use OST a tool to make the goals interactive. But hard to sell OST to a CEO.

For many professional people, (Christa), they seek certainty, not openness.

In reality (Eva), OST is far more efficient in allowing larger numbers to gather, - it can help work commitment, working processes, and growth - but it takes management courage to undertake same. OST involves leadership skills which every leader needs to make the organization a living organization. (Antti-Juhani)

The hierarchic patterns are very strong in Asia and will change with great hesitance. (Christa) And they must be part of the pre-work phase.

If people exercise the Law of 2 feet, managers need to reflect on the message involved. The culture impacts on this.

(Gail) We never really understand one another. People act for a specific reason - rent, security, job, fear, etc. Space will only open as far as the CEO allows. Facilitator doesn't actually open the space. It has to benefit the executive in some way. Asians are often more open than others. But they have to feel it is authentic for them and for others. Story of people using 2 feet and walking out of session for a while and then deciding to walk back in. Stunning.

(Eva) The theme has to be safe enough for the Manager to cope with. And the invitation has to clear and real.

OST is actually very structured, not just a free-wheeling anarchy. Need to establish this in the Manager's mind.

(Eva) Marketing isn't seen by most OST people as a valid approach - but there is something to be done here. It's really not that consistent with self-managing, perhaps.

We have solutions (Kerry) but corporates look at things a bi differently

Spirit seems OK with Asians.

(Kerry) we can help get silos broken down with a minimum of fuss, and we can help in times of pre-acquisition to get a clear snapshot of how the other organization is going. Results are available, real, and measurable in this field.

Follow up:

Online Comments:

Bumblebeeing between reports, I see relations between this topic and many others that have been discussed today, but mainly with /PreWorkFase, /DoingOSTDifferently and others. From that viewpoint and my own experience I can see a lot of Advantages in OST for Business Executives. The advantage they normally recognize is when their company is in a profound crisis and they have tried many other solutions that didn't work. The one that they are begining to understand more and more is that they are always one step from a profound crisis... This means that many executives have already understood (or are begining to understand) that they must "give up control" and give up "formality" and become more real "leaders" of their businesses, establishing a close and human relationship with all the staff and other stakeholders.

And what if the CEO doesn't understand this yet? First, I would suspect the business will bankrupt in a while. And, second, we are not obliged to work with every CEO... In the first session quoted above, Tova said "OST is like swimming, you don't know what it really is until you have jumped into the water". CEOs that don't understand that they will make a much more human connection with the staff if they are able to swim with the employees in the "company swimming pool", or if they think that it is not "a good think" to "kneel down" and make something "less than professional", I suppose that they are not yet prepared for OST... And also not for the world we are living in... I don't kow no one that can be "elegant" while "riding the tiger"-- ArturSilva

Earlier this year, some of us posted our notes on OST and business at GlobalChicago:OpenSpaceTech/TheBusinessCase


G'day all. I appreciate your posting the topic, Brian, and the sheer wisdom which has emerged from this conversation.

The 'giving up of formality' seems to me to be a key element here. For one of the people with whom I have been working over the past year - who is currently a CEO in a not-for-profit sector but was previously in the corporate world - has noted that 'informal communications' in an organization makes it 'all happen.' My 'take' is to bring this idea to executives' attention by illustrating the notion with relevant stories - and an offer to provide an opportunity to have a dip/swim to experience the process. --AlanStewart