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The Law of Two Feet

The Law of Two Feet is brilliantly simple, it says any time you’re in a meeting or at an event where you’re not contributing or adding value, you are encouraged to use your two feet and find a place where you can. In other words, if it’s not meaningful, and you’re not doing your part to make it meaningful, move on to another place.

That place might be another group or session, take a break and cool off, or even simply go outside into the fresh air and sunshine. No matter what, don’t sit there feeling miserable as if you’re sat there unhappy then this will be counterintuitive to your experience and the experience of others in the group.

The Law of Two Feet concept was published in an article by Harrison Owen, a member of an organisation advocating Open Space Technology, a model for organising meetings based around open participation – unconferences as we now call them like the Annual Exchange – the first of which was held in 1985, 3 decades ago.

Here’s how Owen describes the rule:

“Briefly stated, this law says that every individual has two feet, and must be prepared to use them. Responsibility for a successful outcome in any Open Space Event resides with exactly one person—each participant. Individuals can make a difference and must make a difference. If that is not true in a given situation, they, and they alone, must take responsibility to use their two feet, and move to a new place where they can make a difference.”

The beauty of the law is that it allows people to self-select projects and sessions that are most compelling and that they are most passionate about as these will be the ones that win their time and effort.

At an unconference or open space event attendees are encouraged to use their best judgment in which sessions they choose whether or not to attend as they are ultimately responsible for the quality of their learning.

Open World Space state that if any situation is not learning rich, it is incumbent upon the individual participant to make it so. No point in blaming the event committee, for they did not decide on the discussion agenda and in some cases a committee does not exist. Responsibility therefore resides with the individual and the attendee.

We’re looking forward to seeing you at the first open space event and unconference for UK event professionals on the 19th July – #ANNEX18.

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