Create a Welcoming Inviting Space

I am a bit stunned at the aggressive nature of ‘the rules of bar camp‘ that have been put forward. I guess I am not surprised because they are parodied from ‘the rules of fight club.’

Going back up to the ‘unparodied’ real rules. I think that mandating participation makes people feel intimidated to come. I know at Ruby on Rails Camp last week there were guys who came and said as they announced their session in the mic that they had not planned on presenting until getting there. There were also guys who combined their session because of the agenda co-creation process at the beginning.

Self-worth is a huge issue in the society at large. Just showing up may be a big deal for someone (yes they should volunteer and contribute in some way to help make the space). FooCamp originated out of OpenSpace ideas and roots and history are important. This process is over 20 years old and is practiced by 1000s around the world.

It started from this question that Harrison Owen asked himself:

My question was a simple one. Was it possible to combine the level of synergy and excitement present in a good coffee break, with the substantive activity and results characteristic of a good meeting?

It is a deep question in a way- How do we combine two interesting phenomena together so that people are involved and feel alive an energized? If it is done right – then people will be participating. It does not have to be mandated.

Here are some more inspiring quotes from Working in Open Space about invitation and intentionality.

The invitation itself was very simple, probably just a page or two, maybe a short email or postcard, or even something posted on a bulletin board. It spoke plainly about what’s working, what’s possible, and/or what’s needed now in some area of real importance. It was clearly not an invitation to complain or even “solve problems,” but rather to co-create some dimension of the organization, the community, or the world that we all really want to be a part of. This doesn’t mean that it denied or in any way minimized the importance of existing problems, only that it really focused attention on our strengths and assets — and invited people to work together to create more of them.

The simple, clear, broad and open invitation process assures that the people who show up have real passion for the issue AND signals to them that the best outcomes are theirs to create. A good invitation lets everyone know, even those who can’t or won’t actually attend, that this meeting is intended to go beyond suggestions, beyond recommendations, beyond rubber-stamping, beyond past expectations. This meeting is for real responsibility, real learning, real action on the issue(s) at hand.

Open Space creates a co-created space in a shared space/time of agenda creation. It is a wonderful moment at the beginning before the wall is full.

At this moment, the facilitator is, quite possibly, the only one in the room who has absolutely no doubt whatsoever that this group of 12, 120 or 1200 is on the brink of filling that large, suspiciously empty wall with a detailed agenda that will keep everyone working, playing, and learning for the duration of the conference — on the brink of what most (at this point) would call the impossible. The sense of anticipation and energy is so high in the room that even the sponsors and planners of the event are a little edgy, and eager for the agenda to appear.

The power of Open Space:

Hailed for its utter simplicity — and it’s power, Open Space starts with open-minded leadership, an issue that really matters, and an invitation to co-create something new and amazing. What happens in the meetings is high learning, high play and high productivity, but is never pre-determined. And what emerges, over time, is a truly inviting organization, that will thrive in times of swirling change.

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