Friday, 27 August 2010

2012 WOSONOS London: Breaking News! ~ UPDATE

I attended the World Open Space on Open Space in Berlin earlier this year (the book of proceedings is here - warning this is a large pdf file) and it was decided there that London would host the 2012 annual WOSONOS. (Next year's event is in Santiago, Chile).

The Improbable Theatre Company, with support from Romy Shovelton and myself, are making the invitation. We are now at the point where we are inviting others to get involved in planning for the event. Here is the letter from Matilda at Improbable describing what is happening next:


Opening space in the UK for WOSONOS 2012 London
How will we make it happen? Do you want to be part of it?

Dear All,

In May of this year, at the close of the Berlin WOSONOS, we made an invitation, which was accepted for WOSONOS 2012 to take place in London, for the first time. It will be the 20th World Open Space on Open Space since they first started in the States back in 1982.

While it was Matilda that made the actual invite, it came on behalf of the whole of Improbable, and with the support of the other U.K. facilitators present – Romy Shovelton and Jon Harvey.

First a brief bit about Improbable, for those of you that don’t know:

Improbable create theatre, opera, site-specific work and since 2005, Open Space events for the arts community and others, both in the UK and throughout Europe and the States. The company’s research into and application of Open Space has broadened our reach and purpose, developing an approach to grappling with complex issues that has not only caught the imagination of the arts community but has also had a huge and very significant influence on Improbable’s working practices as a whole. We now use Open Space to run our company meetings and to create our theatre shows. You can look at other Improbable things at

After the Berlin WOSONOS, Matilda and Phelim (from Improbable) met with Jon and Romy, and together we decided we wanted to use Open Space to help us facilitate the coming together of a UK WOSONOS 2012 host team. We want to ensure that anyone in the UK that wants to participate is able to do so. We see this is as a fantastic opportunity for UK OS facilitators, practitioners and participants to meet one another and connect.

There are many different areas to be considered in hosting a WOSONOS and so numerous different kinds of skills and roles are required: websites to be designed and run; venues and accommodation to be found; food to be planned; social events to be cooked up, and more…Please come and contribute your ideas, passions, thoughts, concerns, dreams, questions. All are welcome.

We will meet on the weekend of November 6th and 7th to open space for a day and a half on our question: WOSONOS 2012 London UK: How will we make it happen? Do you want to be part of it?

As yet we do not have a venue confirmed but please save the date and the full details of place, time and Saturday night social will follow ASAP. On Saturday the day will run from 11am till 6pm, and on Sunday from 10am to 1pm.

We very much look forward to seeing you there.

From all at Improbable together with Jon and Romy


So - would you like to come along and take part? For the moment, all you need to do is make the date in your diary. More information will be forthcoming soon. If you wish, you can email me and I will send you further information when it is available. See you there...?


Full details with venue and evening entertainment have now been posted by the Improbable team here. Hope you can make it!!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Who are the 'ultra shrinking violets' in your organisation?

There is a great discussion on the IDeA website (do subscribe if you have not already done so: about what are the characteristics of a 'systems thinker'. Robert Park of Edinburgh City Council introduced the idea of the 'shrinking violets' who often get marginalised, an idea which was picked up by various people deeper into the discussion. My last contribution to the thread included:
I prefer to think not in terms of training people to be systems thinkers but instead of helping people to reconnect and widen their systems thinking capabilities. The question for me is how come we have created organisations / society / politics where systems thinking is beaten out of people. I suspect that has far more to do with greed and power. On this basis, I think the systems thinkers that we see (as opposed to the people who have the unseen inner potential &/or quietly working in the background in a systems thinking "ultra shrinking violet" way (?)) tend to be people who are centred, grounded and inwardly powerful - to the degree that they have no need or desire to have power over others... The ultra shrinking violets are probably very centred too!
So my questions to you: are you an ultra shrinking violet working undercover, as it were, quietly trying to subvert the organisation you are in towards one that takes greater account of whole systems? Or indeed are you a leader who supports these people or do you overlook them? Or worse do you banish them?

Who are the ultra shrinking violets in your organisation?

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Change alchemy: using pictures & photographs

Leaders create strategy. Or rather, perhaps, they create the conditions whereby good strategies are generated and followed through into actions and results.

A good strategy says not only what will be done but also what will be achieved. 

Pictures can help to motivate change and also create a vision of the future.

It is said that when Turner painted “Slavers Throwing overboard the Dead and Dying — Typhon coming on" he was assisting the abolitionist cause.

What pictures are helping you implement your strategies? What other pictures might help more?