The Law of Two Feet

You might be hearing a lot about “The Law Of Two Feet.” The idea comes from Open Space, a meeting format composed by Harrison Owen and friends.

The Law is very simple:

“If at any time during our time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet, go someplace else.”

The Law of Two Feet speaks to the idea of OPT IN PARTICIPATION. This idea has applicability far beyond Open Space meetings. The reality is that we all are “opting in” or “opting out” of various choices and opportunities, every single hour of every single day. You can get out of bed, or not. You can help a friend get something done, or not. You can quit your job, or not. You can choose this job, or that one.

You can continue to examine this blog post, or opt-out. So simple right?

My friend and the originator of Open Space is Harrison Owen. He often says that the Law of Two Feet is “always active”, meaning that it is applicable everywhere, not just inside the Open Space meeting format. As an example. consider your meetings at work. Almost all the time, you are REQUIRED to attend these meetings. But what if you could opt-out?

The reality is, when “you are you are neither learning nor contributing” you do in fact CHECK OUT mentally and psychologically. Your body is there– your head is not. This is DISENGAGEMENT. It’s death to you, and your meetings, and your organization. So the Law Of Two Feet actually is active, even if you “must” be there. You use the “virtual Law Of Two Feet”– by DIS engaging your mind, and leaving your body in the room. Your body is present, your head is not. Disengagement. “Embodied disengagement” if you will. The virtual Law of Two Feet.

Remember– the Law Of Two Feet is always active. People want to be free.

So. Imagine if you could opt-out and ELECT to not attend. Imagine if every meeting was optional to attend. Imagine that…

…now, with every meeting optional….are you still attending every meeting? Probably not. Why? Because, in your view, it is unlikely you will either learn much or contribute much.

The new workplace authorizes you to allocate your time and attention to the activities that can do the most good for your organization. The new workplace trusts you to do the right thing. The new workplace admits that the Law Of Two Feet is always active.

The new workplace  admits that mandating and imposing attendance at meetings is dumb.


Mandating and imposing attendance (or any other activity) kills engagement. The remedy is INVITATION. Invite people to meetings, and make attendance optional. Engagement is what happens when the passionate, responsible people are all in the same space, focused on an issue that connects them.

And that is what the Law Of Two Feet (and the Open Space meeting format) is all about.


Related Links:

Open Space Explained (link)

The Problem With Mandated & Imposed Agile Adoptions (link)

Open Agile Adoption Explained (link)

Contact Me To Discuss The Law Of Two Feet (link)