Let me introduce you to my story. A lived experience of the powerful beginning and the magic of OST.
In 1997 I moved my family from Israel to the US for two years in a desperate search for a new paradigm for O.D consulting work. The “western doctor” model of expert did not seem to provide a good enough answer for the complex and rapidly changing high-tech industry I was working with. One day, a year into our stay in the US, I found exactly what I was looking for. It was wrapped in surprising circumstances: An NGO of American and Russian clinical psychologists working together to the rehabilitate the traumatized Chernobyl community in Russia. They were holding their yearly gathering: 4 days in community together for planning the coming year. In their small advertisement I was attracted to the three lines describing their way of working: ‘Open Space Technology’ (Harrison Owen). Goosebumps all over, I felt compelled to come. Since I am not a psychologist and neither a Russian, nor an American I doubted that they would have me. Hesitating, I called … To my surprise they were very happy to have me. I found out they held a paradigm that appreciates passion to take responsibility and values diversity. For them I was “the ultimate other” (not – not — and not—). They were certain I would bring a fresh perspective since I was totally ignorant of their task and organization yet passionate to be there.
That welcome and its different kind of logic opened new gates in my mind and heart. It added two unforgettable imprints in my bones: passion to take responsibility is a major life force and the spirit of invitation is a major generative force!
I joined the 4 days as a participant. Yet, with my 20 years of practice as a facilitator and consultant. I had my well-developed world view and opinions of who should be a facilitator and how “a good professional” behaves! The lady who was facilitating did everything “wrong.” She was herself. She spoke her mind and complemented carelessly. As the days passed, my arrogant sneer to how she worked was cracked by seeing the great work accomplished and by sensing the vibrancy and livelihood of the space. I was full of joy and felt open and invited to contribute, accepted and appreciated for who I am. I knew right away I wanted more of that way of working for myself and others!
These 4 days, this disruptive beginning that was so different from all I knew to be “true”, made me reconsider my understanding of what is the “right way” to do things and what is the “wrong way” to do things in my profession and in my life. That was the beginning of my decision to start meeting people in the field “beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing” (Rumi).
On the fourth day I was sure that my burning issue – a desperate search of a new paradigm for my consulting work – found an answer. I was all geared for implementing it right away. I gathered the nerve to say to Carolyn Kinsman – the facilitator – “I want to carry your bags”. I knew I had to learn this mindset and this way of working before I returned to Israel since there were no practitioners there that worked this way. She just looked at me and said “there is no need. Buy the guidebook and you’ll be fine”. She then gave some more options and pieces of advice.
Generosity of spirit, a ‘you can do it if this is your passion, I’ll help you with some guidance’ was another fresh breeze to my exclusive hierarchical academic training.
This impactful beginning launched me into a new mindset and practice of emergent, generative and dialogic methodologies.
Now resulting in a Book that describes my way of working as a Dialogic OD professional. Click here for more about my book