Invitation as a Leadership Art

Any framework is OK, as long as those affected are invited, and are actually choosing to experiment with it. As long as there is genuine (and informed) consent from those affected. The framework used is not the problem, but rather the mandate of it… by authority.

Any experience with an approach to change is best framed as an experiment– one to be inspected by the tribe on a very specific date, some 45 to 100 days hence. This process is called Invitation-Based Change or IBC.

At the core of IBC is an invitation, from leadership, to an experiment with new ways of working. This is an invite to participate in what we commonly call “co-creation.”

A more accurate metaphor might be “the invitation”…the invitation to be a character in the new story, and even become a co-author of an exciting and emerging narrative. To be the characters in the story and the co-authors of the new story.

And these participants are not “bought in.” Because, truth be told,  the term “bought in” implies something is being marketed. Something is being bought and sold. Via persuasion. And that’s not what we are doing here. Here, we are not selling anything to anyone but rather, inviting participation. So, not “bought in” but rather, “located in” the emergent story of change.

In Invitation-Based Change, the authentic invitation from leadership includes an explicit and scheduled opportunity to inspect the results, as a group, typically with a fully-authorized, all-hands, enterprise wide, dialogue-oriented “Open Space” meeting. This enterprise-wide inspection of the results usually requires a duration of at least one day. It is a  “gathering of the tribes” from across the enterprise. Everyone affected is invited. What is actually going in this 1-day meeting is the rarest of events:  the genuine and authentic experience of “organizational learning.



Invitation-Based Change requires leaders actually become competent in what we have come to call “Invitation as a Leadership Art.” These concepts are embodied in a method called “OpenSpace Agility.” It is the first of several methods that are emerging inside the wider container of “Invitation-Based Change.” OpenSpace Agility (OSA) is built upon the empty, more generalized “beginning-middle-end” structure called Prime/OS. Prime/OS is the core bedrock foundation of OSA.

You can learn more about these simple, powerful, open-source culture technologies, right here, right now, via these two links:


The Mandate of Holacracy At Zappos

An actual example may more fully illustrate: Let us consider the mandate of “holacracy” at Zappos.

The introduction of holacracy at Zappos was, at best, an authoritative “push” gone terribly wrong.

At worst, holocracy was implemented as a despotic, tyrannical mandate. As push. With forceful persuasion. As coercion. I saw it coming in late January of 2104 and made certain predictions in March of 2014 concerning the predictable result.

The entire unfortunate mess is easily avoided by leveraging the incredible power of invitation. It offers the power to generate co-creation, alignment, and authentic organizational vitality. The Zappos story might have started this way. It did not.
Any framework is OK, as long as those affected are invited to the experiment, and each invitee is not coerced but rather, invited…and is actually choosing… to play the game.

Are you interested in testimonial videos from actual people who have experienced Invitation-Based Change inside real organizations?

You can find testimonial videos here- each is only 15 minutes long:

See also: 

Invitation-Based Change (link)

Invitation in OpenSpace Agility (link)

The Mandate of Holacracy at Zappos (link)
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