The interactive organization is one that is less dominated by traditional control structures and where people are more free to do their work. Interactive organizations (IO’s) are therefore more efficient, adapt faster to changes in their environment – and they’re a lot more fun to be in. They can also be chaotic and frustrating :o)
I’ve been a leader and participant (in interactive orgs everyone is both) in three different organizations which were interactive, and I can assure you, that I will never again work in a “traditional” workplace. I could simply never function again under the old, inflexible ways defined by the org chart.
So when I heard that the first conference on IO’s was being organized in Krakow I knew that I had to be a part of it. The term Interactive Organization was defined in Harrison Owen’s book The power of spirit, how organizations transfrom and describes what a workplace organized around Open Space Technology might be like.
The conference itself took place in Krakow, since the conveners (though Berliners) have a firm belief that the future is in the east, ie. eastern Europe. And Krakow was certainly an excellent choice of venue. The city is easily the most beautiful I’ve ever visited, and everything in Poland is still quite cheap. Especially the excellent local beer, which was a big part of the post-conference relaxation :o)
The conference itself was (of course) held as an Open Space meeting, and the 30 participants from all over Europe quickly organized an impressive agenda focusing on the theory and practice of IO’s. I hosted a session of stories from real-life IO’s which helped establish a common understanding of what exactly an IO is.
In all, I think the conference was an excellent kick-off for establishing a european IO community. We now have a common ground, some projects to work on and the next conference is being planned for 2005, probably in Budapest.