On behalf of The UK Chapter of the Humanistic Management Network, three of us facilitated an Open Space session at this year’s Humanistic Management Network’s annual conference in Krakow, Poland, at the Jagiellonian University. The Open Space was scheduled for the last session of the two-day conference, which was so action packed with interesting keynote presentations and research papers that every session overran, giving us considerably less time than the three hours we had originally planned. Our co-inquiry question was ‘Celebrating our commonalities and differences’, and we were really surprised and pleased by how many people turned up (about 30) and by how energetic and interested in the co-inquiry they were, even late on a Friday afternoon! There were people from many of the national Chapters, including the newly-launched Poland chapter, China, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, India, Columbia, along with conference participants who weren’t affiliated to any specific chapter.
We broke into three small groups, one of which we each facilitated, and asked participants to consider the question: ’What are the key priorities for your Chapter from now on?’. Answers included ‘building connections with universities and management learning’, ‘establish[ing] an engaged group of people’, and ‘maintaining awareness of the need to prioritise human dignity in the workplace’. Not surprisingly, comments reflect the on-going tension between building and energising a strong group of committed people, whilst allowing space for local/national priorities to emerge, and developing greater clarity about underpinning connections between us.
In the discussions and feedback there was a great deal of enthusiasm for cross-national collaborating and shared projects. We were encouraged to observe that the issues that we are experiencing in our Humanistic Management Network UK Chapter about the desire for focus and the sense of being small and embryonic are very widely shared within the wider network. One Chapter, Nigeria, organises a yearly ‘Knowledge Exchange’ by means of a nice sounding ‘unstructured structure’, which appealed to us as an approach we might consider.
We were pleased (and a little relieved) with the energy levels and participation from everyone who came to our session. Facilitating this event was a positive and enjoyable activity, and also gave us some inspiration and practical ideas to pursue. We were energised by the confirmation that we work well as a UK Chapter, particularly when we are developing a specific project. We have a number of possible projects in mind, and we’ll be in touch again early in 2020 to consult more widely about ideas for next steps.
Meantime, very best wishes for the festive period (Brexit concerns notwithstanding) and for 2020.