The Art of Hosting

from the emaillist, May 2014:

Hello Mates:


We are using the Chaordic Stepping Stones in a community engagement process here in Itasca County, MN.  I am looking for examples of Principles that groups have arrived at in working the Principles step, that is, in response to the question: How do we want to work together?  What principles will guide our collective work?


Might anyone have examples they could share or point me to?


With a bow of appreciation to our community,

Bernadine Joselyn


Principles for me have included things as diverse as “trust and friendship”  “children at the centre”  “never work alone”  

The idea here is that we choose principles to help guide us when our structures don’t work.  If we get stuck, the principle of “ask for what you need, offer what you can” can really help.
Principles are born in conversations about what minimal elegant structure is needed to continue to work together, especially when we are in the space of not knowing, or in the groan zone. Choose only very few principles.  Sometimes one is all you need.  And practice it diligently no matter what you are doing so that when you need it, you can rely on it.  The principles should be things the team knowns deeply and is the source of their practice.  They should not be a long list of things we’d like to do.  If your team members cannot name the principles in any moment, they are probably too complicated.  Let the principles inspire action and practice.
Principles and patterns are sometimes the same thing.  You might want to go to and download the free deck and (or order a deck for yourself) and use these patterns as conversation starters for the kinds of principles we should adopt.
Favorites I've found helpful.
Do with, not too.
Don't take others so f*%$ing seriously.
Don't take yourself so f*%$ing seriously.
Typically I get to principles in a couple of ways. One, is just to listen to the story of what is going on here, what to people care about, and what would be an abundant and generous future together? I'll just ask someone to listen for principles, then invite a discussion about it.
Two is that I have them engage together in an experience and then ask, "From this experience, what are the principles that you recommend we hold each other to for the good of this project and the people it will serve?"
Good luck Bernadine.

Hi Bernadine,


In addition to what Chris and Tenneson have shared (and I agree to keep the number of principles to a minimum – I like 3-4), others I’ve worked with include:


  • Attend to including all the voices in the work/conversation. A sub of this could be to always ask which voices are we not including or not hearing.


  • Practice curiosity. Be open to new ideas, new learning, emergence.


  • Practice respect. A sub of this would be all ideas are welcome or no ideas are silly/bad/unwelcome – but not all ideas have to be accepted.


  • Practice generosity or grace or forgiveness. We all make mistakes or say things inappropriate. We have a responsibility to call it ut or name and then enter learning space with generosity instead of blame and criticize space.


In peace,




Hi Bernadine
I also like the Berkana Community Engagement principles - to help people think well about how we are working in community and with each other.
To add to the previous answers Bernadine, I am sharing some of the ones that keep appearing in different teams or projects I work with or host. I copied and pasted from several projects, so they usually are not all together but 4 or 5 at a given time. 
  • Clarity. Practice clarity, be clear yourself when expressing, ask questions until you or the group is clear.
  • Co-responsibility in learning. We are peers and in this together, so we choose to create value to each other and learn from each other.
  • Openness. Be prepared to be surprised with what comes out of this!
  • Transparency. Make processes and decision-making transparent.
  • Professionalism. Give our best to work with high quality
  • Inclusiveness. Be inclusive ourselves and make participants feel at home. Work to have everybody on board but also respect of the different tiers in participation
  • Quality over Quantity. Work on the timing and flow of the agenda so that we balance work with enjoyment
  • Design to Harvest. Create something that allows to feed forward, take the next steps in the journey you are travelling
  • Respect. Each others opinions and time in the process.
  • Trust. Take time to build trust with this team meeting online across the world for the first time
  • Simpleness. Even if this is a team across countries, work with the minimum complexity possible
  • Honor. Respect and honor contributions at each stage of the project
  • Awareness. Know each other and support each other in our strengths and capacities, asking for support when you need it and providing it when requested.

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