Reflections on the Organization Development World Summit

I recently returned from Budapest, Hungary after a wonderful week with 350 Organization Development practitioners from 30 countries at the OD World Summit.

The Hungarians were great hosts!  They fed us well, arranged for evenings with music and dance every night, and organized a terrific conference on “co-creating a new world of organizations and communities.”

I was honored to do a “master class” on Open Space Technology and to be part of an opening plenary, bringing an Open Space perspective.  Others speaking were:

We each spoke to the question: what are the three most important ways that our practice has influenced the field?

My answers for Open Space Technology:

Open Space Technology made explicit the notion that everything is self-organizing.  OST offers a pathway for productively working with the dynamics of self-organization.

OST re-defines the role of the facilitator.  No longer the expert in the front of the room, but “totally present and completely invisible”.  Rather than a facilitator who intervenes, the OST practitioner opens a welcoming space for self-organization to emerge.

OST provides a profound invitation to people to work from passion and responsibility.  Or, as I usually say it, to take responsibility for what they love.  Not just during an OS event, but as a life practice, when we pay attention to passion and responsibility, the good of the individual and the good of the collective are both served. To many, this seems a contradiction.  Yet when we operate by taking responsibility for what we love, we touch the part of us that connects to a deeper stream from which we all draw. In practice, when we each bring our full-voiced selves, a differentiation occurs from which novel patterns that draw from all facets of a system emerge. In other words, individual passion helps us discover our fit as a greater whole.

Before this opening panel, we were taken on a journey through the history of the field of Organization Development.  I was touched to discover both The Change Handbook and Engaging Emergence were identified by the organizers as pivotal contributions to the field.

Following the journey, participants reflected on where OD was heading.  I was excited to learn that people were hungry for new, more emergent, ways of working.  There was an openness to new ideas in the room.

A conference highlight for me was meeting the Gestalt practitioners.  I wasn’t familiar with their work.  Though I’m still not, the taste I got of the people and their work – focusing on awareness, wholeness, and working with disruptions – whet my appetite to learn more.