I’ve just opened space at a conference here with Viv McWaters, Geoff Brown, Anne Pattillo and Johnnie Moore. We’ve got a two day, full on participatory conference on evaluation with 179 people. 40 topics have gone up for our day and a half OS.
It’s sweet for me being here in Melbourne, which for me is the spiritual home of Open Space in Australia (would you agree Brendan? :-)). Of course for me that impression largely comes from the fact that this was Father Brian Banibridge’s home, and I regret that I never made it here while he was alive, only able to meet him over the years at various OSonOS gatherings or when he stopped by our place on retreat or en route to elsewhere.
Brian of course was such a stalwart member of our community…he and Viv have hosted trainings in Australia for years and of course they took the mantle of hosting OSonOS X in 2002 after Laurel Doersam and I co-hosted it in Vancouver. It’s such a pleasure to be here working with Viv and our team in this place, with Brian’s presence very much in our mind.
And so as way of honouring Brian in our own little way today we took the unprecedented step of officially adding a fifth principle to the Open Space canon. Of course the four principles are very important and probably all we need, but Brian always posted a fifth one up when he worked: Be Prepared to be Surprised. For years I have also made a poster with that one on it and put it up in the room, but today in my opening I elevated that most excellent phrase by making it the third principle of five. It comes right after Whoever comes… and Whatever happens… Be Prepared to be Surprised. And then When it starts… and when it’s over…lovely.
It seems a perfectly natural place to put it, and, being here in Melbourne, it seemed a perfectly natural act to just say out loud “Open Space has 5 principles and one law…” Viv and I both got a little shiver up our spine, our own little testimonial to a great friend of our community of practice whose presence we miss dearly.
So from now on it’ll be five principles for me, and in reciting them I always see in my own mind Harrison’s call to simplicity, Anne Stadler’s call to take simplicity seriously (which helped Harrison get the principles right – that IS the story, right?) and Brian’s mischievous imperative to be open to surprise.
So as we prepare to gather here in Melbourne on May 11 for a little OSonOS with 40 or so local OS-workers, and our community of friends and colleagues gathers internationally in Berlin, Viv and I invite you to officially adopt Brian’s fifth principle not for sentimental reasons, but just because it makes sense, and it lightens the invitation in just the right way.
It’s all good.