Beliefs influence results

Peggy Holman writes in Open Space Technology: A User’s NON-Guide, pp. 48—50, that different methods can work in a given situation but what matters most are the beliefs of the facilitator.

My belief (and I don’t have sufficient empirical evidence for it to be more than an opinion) is that while method may be one factor in success or failure the beliefs of the facilitator are an even greater factor.

The core beliefs of the facilitator influence their actions and the unspoken cues they send. Are there methods that are better fits in different circumstances? You bet. And yet, I can take the similar circumstances and put different facilitators in them using the same method and get results with widely differing impact. Further, I believe I could take the same facilitator, use different methods and get similar results. I don’t have empirical evidence for this. It is an opinion reached by observation of, discussion with, and reading of comments from a variety of people using a variety of methods. I think what started me down this path was the deep conviction of virtually every expert that their way was the most effective.

My untested theory is the factors involved in success include sponsor beliefs (particularly around their passion for and audaciousness of the desired future, sense of invitation to participate, generosity of spirit), facilitator beliefs (particularly around people’s capacity to act wisely for the good of the whole as well as themselves), and method.

When there is a perception that people need to be led, then they will prove that out. If the perception is that participants will figure things out for themselves, they somehow do.

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