I had a good conversation with Stephen Wrentmore this morning, in which we kicked around the similarities between directing in the theatre (his gig) and facilitation (mine).
Towards the end, he threw out some interesting ideas about the role of the artist and critic, which I really liked. They strike me as good wisdom for meetings and how we choose to play them.
I often think about the challenge open space offers to participants to give voice to what they feel/want/need, and the ways they can take up the challenge or ignore it. Those who do the latter are more likely to end the event criticising the process where perhaps they need to reflect more closely on the choices they made during it. For example, they’ll complain that some topics weren’t discussed (but they didn’t offer alternatives themselves); or that some conversations were too large (but they sat in on them in sulky silence) or that the event lacked surprise (but they failed to articulate their frustration when they first felt it).
Stephen offered a distinction in art between creating and criticising. It’s easy for the artist to err on side of critic. In doing so, they risk playing to a real or imagined audience and temper what they have to say. Often the greatest art is produced before the artist becomes popular, and popularity often seems to blunt their edge. Once you become too conscious of your audience, you can lose the drive and spark that made you interesting in the first place.
As an artist, perhaps you give pref to being a creator even if most of what u do will be criticised or fail. At the extreme, the artist is not interested in the critic; but the critic is only interested in the artist and their own ego.
One of the choices we face in any meeting is where to sit on this spectrum between art and criticism. It’s not by any means the only way to cut the cake; nor am I saying we must always be at one end of the other. But it’s an interesting filter for our experience.