Tag Archives: hollyhock

The Evolution of Open – notes from Open Everything

Day 1 of Open Everything at Hollyhock has passed and I’m now up far too late blogging about it.

Numerous insights, but possibly the most interesting occured during the spectrogram exericse where we asked participants to physically locate themselves along an axis (in our case a piece of tape along the floor) in response to questions we asked them.

The most interesting was a two dimensional spectrogram where we first asked people if “The Organization I work for is open.” Then, after participants chose their spot along this first axis we asked them to migrate along a Y axis according to the question “I personally work in an open manner.” Below is a re-creation of how the participants distributed themselves around the room.

Obviously definitions of “open” and “how open” one is was up to each participant – but then this is the point of a spectrogram!

At first blush it simply seemed that many people were personally open (or trying to act in an open manner) in their jobs and that there was pretty equal distribution between who was in an open vs. closed organization.

However, the distribution of people in the quadrants was not random. Those in the bottom right quadrant (quadrant 2) tended to be people who were in more conservative institutions like universities, governments and traditional companies. These people were the IT professionals, consultants, organizers, etc… but more importantly, they were rabble-rousers within their respective organization, trying to initiate change. In short,  you had CHANGE MAKERS trying to shift their org into a more open space.

In the top right-hand quadrant (quadrant 3) were people in emerging open source projects and generally smaller organizations that were striving to be open. This was a group of people who’s organizations were become increasingly open. These ACTIVISTS believed in the open idea and were excited about where they – and their organizations – were.

Finally, in the top left hand quadrant (quadrant 4) were the VETERANS of the open movement. Here were people who worked in well established open source or open projects. Their challenge was they were experiencing the limits and issues of being and acting consistently in an open manner. As they push about against the most extreme limits of open they saw the necessity and value of not always been completely and totally open (for example, there are only so many thinking processes, conversations, and discussion, I can take the time to share).

So the big ah-ha was realizing the growth curve that people and organizations go through as they engage in, and become, more open. First you have change makers who agitate and work to enable organizations to adopt open methodologies. Then as the organization becomes more open people become activists, celebrating the open idea and pushing it into all areas of the organizations. Then those within the organizations begin to run into the operational and practical limits of open and, importantly, recognize the importance and role of “private” or “closed” as essential and so guard it. Critically, I also think that those in quadrant 2 or 3 are often measuring open differently then those in quadrant 4 – who because of their boards and/or stakeholders, hold themselves to a very high bar.

The best part about this is that it means there are individual and organzations lessons to be drawn as one migrates through these stages. It also means thatt those passionate about open, but in radically different quadrants (say 2 vs 4) may have very different priorities and/or concerns. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t both equally committed to a common ideal, just that they are looking at it from very different places.

Open Everything

This first stage of open source (which is drawing to and end) was proofing out the model.

The second stage is about a duopoly…A battle of ideas, so to speak of open versus closed… Where industry is going to be dominated by two platforms that really characterize these two concepts. These two platforms are likely to be Linux and, unfortunately, Microsoft… but I think increasingly the world is entering into this two horse race.

Jim Zemlin, Linux Foundation at Ubuntu Live

September 3-6 I’m co-hosting an event called Open Everything at hollyhock which seeks to explore what this second stage of open will look like and how it can be made more successful, not just in the world of Linux and Microsoft, but across all areas, software, hardware, philanthropy, public policy, business, etc..

In short, what does being “open” mean? What will it mean? And what could it mean?

A bunch of very cool cats are getting together to see if we can begin to answer that question. If you think you might be interested in joining us, click here.

There will obviously be much, much, much more to come on this.

Open Everything

It’s official. A small cabale of us are running a conference entitled Open Everything about what is the value and the values of being “open” and how is it changing the way we live and work – for good and bad.

The main event will be a 3-day shindig up at Hollyhock on Cortes Island in British Columbia in September with several parrallel events occuring around the world (so far events have been confirmed for Toronto in June, London, UK in July, Cape Town in August and Singapore in September.

If you are interested in participating, know someone who you think should be in the know, or would simply like to know more yourself, please drop me a line.

Critical Negotiations in social change movements

Recently I had the good fortune of sharing a tea with Andrea Reimer of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee. Our conversation focused on critical negotiations in social change movements – and more specifically, environmental movements.

Andrea pointed me to The Movement Action Plan, an article by social activist Bill Moyer.  The article outlines both the 8 stages (graphed below) a social movement often goes through – as well as the opportunities and pitfalls that exist along this path.

I’ve identified and mapped out (see slideshare presentation below) the 3 points where I believe there are critical and predictable negotiations. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive, nor an absolute list. But based on a number of recent conversations I suspect this simple list of negotiations are both likely as well some of the most difficult for any movement to engage in. That said, I could be wrong and would love for critical perspective or countering data. This would be helpful as this is helping me frame my thinking for the negotiation workshop I’ll be giving on behalf of the Hollyhock Leadership Institute to members of the Environmental NGO community in late April.


  • The first key negotiation is in stage 2 through 4 where the movement’s component groups and individuals need to negotiate with one another about how to best advance their cause. This is, in short, a large alliance management problem where the benefits of collaboration could be increased public awareness and activism.
  • The second is in stage 5. Here the movement has to transition from being purely activist drive to long term focused. Here the movement is confronted again with an internal negotiation – the “take-off junkies” need to be persuaded to either adopt a long-term strategy or take on a new challenge. Alternatively, the movement could attempt to marginalize them.
  • The third is in stage 6 and 7. Here the movement may find it is negotiation – implicitly or explicitly – with the powerholders. Here the option is to reach agreement to establish a new status quo or, should negotiations collapse, to return to either activism or pressure building. This is where I believe many (but not all) Environmental NGO’s in British Columbia currently find themsleves. They are negotiation with the Provincial government over standards, policies and plans where they can either reach agreement or retreat to protest politics. In a sense their ultimate BATNA (and nightmare scenario for the government) is to threaten to engage in another round of the 1993 Clayoquot Sound protests. The question is, can the NGO community negotiate effectively, both with among themselves over their strategy, and with the government over the standards, policies and plans?