The Art of Hosting

From the AoH emaillist, July 2012:

Hi mates,

A mate has invited me to co-host a short, about 2.5 hrs open space for the alumni of a state leaders program here in Tasmania.

It will be the first of a series of four thinktanks whose purpose is to have critical conversations for a positive future for Tasmania and to build capacity of the alumni. The report that is background reading was written in the 1930s and highlights economic and low morale problems that could be now. We have the highest unemployment, the highest rates of addiction, lowest education rates and highest rates of people on welfare benefits. We seems to get caught in the same ways of thinking and politics.

OST was their decision, as they want to work with a variety of participatory leadership methods, and this is first cab off the rank. It is very exciting with great possibilities for this group to have influence.

The question we are contemplating is " what courageous conversations are we now ready to have, to move towards the state we need?" but it's not quite there. I was most inspired by David's thought about decision discoverers, and wondering about how to hold energy to keep being curious and not sliding into those easy and well known positions.

I'm also thinking about Otto Scharmer's work on journalling, and wonder if instead of being defined by the past we could be sensing the question coming from our best future?

We need a question by Monday. I would also like to have some clarity about how we harvest and pull it together at the end. That will be the end of the meeting, and I would like some energy and direction. It's been good just to write this and to clarify my questions, however if there were some inspiration out there, I would appreciate some wisdom.

This could be so important for this island,
Best wishes,
Jill Currey
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Hmmmm

"what question, if asked, would be a gateway to a new future?"
"what are the possibilities now invisible that wait for us to see them?"
"what is the future within me, waiting to be born?"

Just leaning into the field on a cool summer morning in the beauty of the Inland Northwest...
Bob Stilger
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Haha Bob - I love your first question as it is both a question and the answer in one.

A classic question, delightful in it's simplicity is "What could Tasmania also be?"

Have a great workshop.
Stephen Duns
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Hi Bob, Thanks so much.

Early morning here, mid winter beautiful clear no clouds and so many birds greeting the dawn.
I am excited by your questions. Thank you from my heart.

I am curious also as how you would introduce them in open space. And what is the harvest? In the past I have had groups convene around issues. This has a different sense.

The crows have joined the chorus
Best from my heart
Jill
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Well, since you only have 2.5 hours, I would go slowly!

I'd continue to sense in to the right question with my partners. Then i would begin the session itself with a speaking of the question followed by an invitation into silence, followed perhaps by either some journaling and/or some listening together in pairs and then opening the space...

I say these things, of course, knowing nothing of the culture in which you're working, but it is what springs to my eye....

Cheers,
Bob
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Dear Bob, Stephen and all who responded,
I've spent some hours in the beautiful midland town of Oatlands with my mate Dean, sitting on a bench in warm wintery sun, sheep in a distant paddock, magpies carolling. Thanks for such good thoughts.

This is what we plan: Our introduction to the question will speak to a best future for Tasmania and ask them to imagine that future calling for a question from them that would be a gateway, a question that might open us to possibilities now invisible.... And also speak of Einstein who said if he had an hour to solve a problem and his life depended on it, he'd spend 55 mins working on the questions etc.

The question: what courageous question if asked, would be a gateway to our best future? Then 2 mins silence to listen deeply within themselves for a question that stirs for them. Then OST The report will have host, question, participants, discussion points, and conclude with what is our Einstein question? 2 rounds and then a gallery walk. We have 15 mins for a concluding session in which we will ask each of them to answer in 7 words: what learnings have I experienced in our conversations here, that have shifted my thinking and the way I will step towards the future?

Any reflections would be appreciated. And thank you for your help, it has contributed significantly to our design and thinking,

Best wishes,
Jill
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This sounds lovely. As I sit with "best" future, I feel a bit of dissidence. It calls for a conclusion. And I wonder about other phrasing...
A future that works for all...
Healthy and resilient future
Unimaginable future
Invisible future
Unseen future
Illusive Future
Unforgettable future
Stunning future

Wondering about words on a stunning morning!
Bob
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Great thoughts Bob,

If I could add another phrasing . . .

"the future that is wanting to emerge", or "our future we want to emerge"? Have a great session.

Kindest
Stephen
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Wondering together with you all

What is the future that is calling to be birthed for the common good

Have loved this thread, on a beautiful Melbourne day

Jenny Werbeloff
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Great ideas Bob, Stephen and Jenny,
Such kindness, thank you. We have shifted the 'best' and I so appreciate that understanding.

Best wishes,
Jill
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...the most promising future we can dream for us all?

Mary Alice
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Jill...

Sounds like you have a good design...please give some thought to how the harvest will be used as well...where is it going?  Who needs to know about it?  Who can help to share it out to the wider world...if the meeting is to have impact and if it is to be joined with four other gatherings as well, these are important questions.
And if you find yourself working alone on any aspect of the harvesting question or process, be sure you enlist folks from the planning team and the meeting itself to step into some leadership around the harvest.
2.5 hours is a very short time for an Open Space...my advice is to be simple in the phrasing of the question and quick to get out of the way and let the people get to work on the conversations that they cam to have.
Best!
Chris Corrigan
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Dear Chris,
This is so helpful. Thank you. So Chris would you give any teaching on how to form a good question? I noted Heather's list and thought the comment on questions that invite possibilities rather than fix-it might be useful.
How to say the gratitude for the generous and kind sharing?
So many mates at our back,
Jill

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