Engaging for GOSH 2020: towards an open time structure?

Dear peers,
Following my experience of GOSH 2019 (image below and thread), I would like to invite you to consider a new way of collaborating for future events.

It is indeed not enough to let contents emerge from participants. The time structure of the events should also be discussed and agreed by the participants as one voice.

Concretely, for the organizers that means:

  1. share the goals you have for the event, possible activities (Vision contract), and how to readjust (Mission A contract)

  2. leave the room and let the participants collectively define how to best reach the goals with their resources (Cooperation contract), and how to readjust (Mission B contract)

  3. come back, hear the participants’ collective proposal and ensure they all agree on it, otherwise go back to 2

  4. if the proposal fits the Vision contract, implement, otherwise share the additional constraints that the group has to take into account and go back to 2

  5. readjust the collaboration as defined (mission A/B contract)

Step 2 ensures that participants get recognition from each other. If the authority stays in the room, participants will then search recognition from it at the expense of their peers, and the group will remain weak and inefficient – whether in a company or a volunteer group.

The first adjustment will probably take a few hours, but will highly increase the following collaboration (knowing where to hammer nail).

Another way to foster this adjustment while keeping a time structure thought for participants instead of with them is to do a round of feedback at least once a day, where everyone express and share their feelings. This can be done for example by sharing one’s level of energy (from -3 to +3) and say a few words (meteo). No feedback on contents during this time!

Such regulation allows the group to acknowledge the individual experiences and needs, and adjust accordingly. The circle is a key ritual to build belonging and intimacy. Participants should be encouraged to speak freely in a circle, each circle allowing more authenticity.

I lived this method many times and never saw an approach that has half its impact. I hope this proposal can inspire you to experiment this approach too.

May OSH be ubiquitous. :relaxed:


Hi Fabio,

I am a little confused by this post. Specifically confused by the references to “the authority”. GOSH events have organisers, people who commit a huge amount of time to do the necessary leg work to get everyone in the same room, but I would never call them an “authority” nor think it is fair to exclude them from discussions.

I am also confused by the context of the post. From your previous thread it seems like you thought the event was not moving towards the goal of making OSH ubiquitous, but here you are (unless I misunderstand) talking about a way to structure the event schedule. I suppose my questions are:

  1. Are you suggesting that the event scheduling is so bad that we are not making any progress?
  2. This specific structure you have proposed appears to be a personal preference. Perhaps we should collate examples of alternative approaches too?

Hi @julianstirling
Thank you for taking the time for following up.

I recognize that the organizers were very involved and did their best. My goal is to see what is needed to create real belonging and engagement. And this cannot be achieved with compromises, with following in silence what a minority proposes. It is about the ability for everyone to fully commit towards a goal that really matters to each. And that requires group maturity, the ability for every member in the group to be authentic with themselves, to actively hear, to dare one’s vision, and from that to find what is really common among each individual.

The organizers are psychological leaders recognized by the group, are seen legitimate by initial organizers, they made decisions for the group, and implement rules such as the code of conduct. As such, I name them authority.

I believe that denying there is an authority in a group because of the will to be participatory is a major dysfunction in FLOSS communities and others, as it hinders powers at stake in group dynamics. Silently “consenting” to an agenda without having collectively discussed it is surely more a sign of over-adaptation and passivity, than a sign of working well together.

So, yes, I say that the group dynamics was bad to do real progress. Just looking at the forum, most discussions that happened are not documented; most post have little more than questions or lists of ideas without drafts of answers (links to resources, own experiences, checklists to help OSH projects); and most posts are not brought together as a comprehensive document.

Either we have to review our ways of collaborating drastically, or recognize that GOSH goal for 2025 is wishful thinking.

What I feel sad in this is that I am convinced we had real experts in the room, many of us had key skills that all contribute to OSH. Newcommers certainly also had questions we could have used to understand how OSH has to be made accessible to all. But because we wanted to “build community”, we did not even ask what everyone’s talent was, and how we could have been able to lever it for the collective. Is this really community building when one is not recognized in what forms their essence?

My proposal is not to exclude the leaders, but to recognize their specific energy and role. The model I use describes two dynamics in a group: the leadership or authority, motivated by the survival of the group, and the membership motivated by the passion for the activity. Balancing these two dynamics requires an explicit leadership-membership adjustment. And that allows each individual to learn through the group. Not having the leadership taking part to the adjustment between the members ensures that members do not compete against each other to have the leaders recognition, but rather cooperate to propose a solution to the leaders. The leaders then know that this solution will have full engagement.

Yes the structure I propose is a personal preference. I also had the chance to experiment many facilitation techniques in unlikely contexts. I left many groups, was confronted by others, and learned the importance of peer dialogue without the leader to move from a stroke economy of scarcity to abundance (The Warm Fuzzy Tale from Claude Steiner explains it well)

Of course you can collate examples of alternative approaches. I can also look at user experience and discuss it during one hour with eleven peers who have some personal experience about the topic. Will that bring me, bring us more than having the three UX experts of the group sketch the key principles of UX, a few links to dig deeper, and answer concrete questions on an online document that we can directly comment to have them clarify some elements? I am not sure.

The approach proposed is about having everyone share their real concerns, and find what is common to all, and where each of us can contribute meaningfully. There, belonging and engagement will really develop. :slight_smile:

Kind regards,