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Creating some theory

A group to look at trying to understand what works about participatory practice for groups and the four fold practice for individuals.  

Members: 74
Latest Activity: Oct 15, 2020

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Besides the topics here below, you find a great conversation on Complexity and the Cynefin framework over here!

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Theory we already know about 19 Replies

Please add links to papers and books that might be helpful, with a little summary about why.Continue

Started by Chris Corrigan. Last reply by Ria Baeck Dec 8, 2015.

Defining terms: What do we mean by 'it' and 'work?' 15 Replies

When we ask the question "why does it work?" what do we mean by 'it' and what do we mean by 'work' and how do we know these things?Continue

Started by Chris Corrigan. Last reply by Ria Baeck Nov 29, 2015.

Co-initiating a learning journey to develop an AoH praxis 15 Replies

What is a good framework for us to use to look at defining some theory from our practice?  I'm thinking appreciative...Also for background, here's Dave Snowden's post that might help get us…Continue

Started by Chris Corrigan. Last reply by Rosa Zubizarreta Nov 28, 2015.

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Comment by Sara Bechor on November 28, 2015 at 6:52am

hello everybody

i share here an article that inspire me in the work wit Aoh

hope it will inspire some of us


I will be glad to receive your outputs.

all the Best to you 

Comment by Ria Baeck on January 30, 2015 at 4:43am

Isabelle, since you posted this I had this page open on my laptop. I just want to acknowledge that you wrote this!

We guess there are hardly any people who have turned on notifications to get noticed when someone posts a comment here (I have, as an administrator!); so hardly anyone will have seen your comment.

Jerry Nagel has done a recent PhD on worldview, in relation with AoH. Probably still not from the same kind of order that you describe here. But I am not sure about that... He, with maybe Bob Stilger and a few others (which Jerry would know), can dialogue with you about this - I guess.

My little contribution here.

Comment by Isabelle Mahy on October 31, 2014 at 3:00pm

Hi everyone,

Sara mentioned our backbone and our theory, which is the way to inquire. Let me just add a thinking process clue before looking for some hidden theory. 

We have to know where we are speaking from, in other words, we must know where we stand in terms of worldview, where we find our roots, what we believe in re. the world. It is first a philosophical type of question that we need to reflect on. And if I use scientific terms, this is of a meta-theoric order, namely an ontological and an epistemological question we need to ask ourselves.

Then, when this becomes clearer, it is relevant to ask about the theory or theories that we think best succeed to shed light on AoH. What is key here is to understand that these theories are rooted in, or unfold from, the meta-theoric considerations.

My personal take on this, as I am doing research on AoH, -and Ria and I have had the same questions in mind for a long while-, is that we anchor our work in a phenomenological worldview. It means that we explore and facilitate human experiencing in the phenomenal world. Here, Francisco Varela's work on enact ion, épochè, learning, etc. is mandatory.

Then, re. the relevant theories we mobilize, all have to do with complex social - human systems theory. Many authors have offered their view on this, but I best like the european approach, where we find the immense works of Edgar Morin, Jean-Louis LeMoigne, etc. look here (in french) : 

This process supports the creation of a framework from which we see the world, hence AoH. 

Trying to grasp heuristics is a very useful way of collecting experiences as we can then organize samples, find similarities from which we can infer something, in other words we can make some analysis, but it doesn't replace nor answer the fundamental initial question: where are we speaking from when we say that AoH is -or does- this or that... 

Discovering where we stand makes us more solidly rooted into the philosophical ground and it then becomes much more easy to discriminate what AoH is from what it isn't, what it does, from what it doesn't do, etc. Because we can compare our framework with others. It also gives credibility to our sense making process because we are then able to communicate more clearly about it.

So back to the backbone, this is an invitation to have an even more fundamental root conversation on AoH, in order to share on our shared worldview... 


Comment by Sara Bechor on February 11, 2014 at 6:43pm

I would suggest to ask ourselves  two questions for the beginning :

1. How do really people learn? change?

2. How are  people  being developed and evolved ? what, how and who empower and enable their processes ?

My believe is that every practice or behavior has underneath a theory ,it could be tacit or implicite or explicite and or consciously or unconsciously. I agree with Corina:"theory is there to some extent already".

 Presence of absence of a theory does not imply its non-existence. 

The chellenge here is to discover  and explore our backbone - Clear and systemic with a  flexible diapason.

Comment by Chris Corrigan on January 10, 2014 at 5:03pm

Awesome Corinna...perhaps I'll start a discussion inside here for pieces of existing theory like the one Fabio posted.  Let's play!

Comment by Corina Crawley on January 10, 2014 at 1:25pm

Indeed, Chris. I was welcoming this opportunity to move outside that framework of "practice first, evaluate later". Thanks for initiating. I want to pay tribute to you and others who have guided the process for me before and shared what I believe to be theoretical pieces that we can build on. A framework for reflecting as we/you go, will help to capture all of this and make it visible. But I believe the theory is there to some extent already. For example, a number of practitioners posted on the list serve about creating a collection of methods or tools for "building a safe container." There is underlying theory here about container building that would presumably surface in clarifying the objectives and parameters of this. Lots of opportunities for building. Exciting!

Comment by Chris Corrigan on January 10, 2014 at 1:06pm

@Corina...when I am suggesting that we use developmental evaluation to do this, I mean that we use tools and frameworks to develop a theory as we are practicing.  The is in deliberate contrast to the linearity of "practice first, evaluate later" approach of summative evaluation.

@Doug...I too have practice frameworks like that, both intuitive and explicit.  I'm wondering at an even deeper level what we can say about the theory that gives us a reasonable certainty about those choices.

So we begin eh?   Welcome all to this conversation! 

Comment by Helen Titchen Beeth on January 10, 2014 at 12:31pm

I come with a different take on this, I think... What makes this work is too subtle to fall into the 'scientifically testable' framework paradigm. Even when something might not look like it's working to achieve the bottom-line outcomes an organisation is looking for, it is often working at the subtle level of meeting human needs for connection and resonance. I often feel that our real patron in this work is the Kosmos.

I'm curious to see where this conversation goes - and sending a big, big hug to my wayfarer doug!! :-)

Comment by Wayfarer doug cohen on January 10, 2014 at 12:04pm
This focus reminds me of an 'Always Already' active dimension of my practice when a convening is out ahead in time and my experienced trained 'Auto-pilot Design mode' kicks in. What is operating under the waterline is an evaluation of Design choices based on a learned 'hierarchy of needs' that informs effective design in the service of optimizing choice-making. The theory-making Snowden refers to - altho it may be tacit- helps me evaluate choices around 'units of attention'. Meaning what portion of the population in the story to focus on, in what sequence, based on nested desired outcomes. Years of practice have created a theory making part of my psyche that suggests If-Then Scenarios. If we start in pairs, Then...; If we start with a Leader making a series of statements, Then...; If we start with silence and colored markers with paper,then...
Comment by Corina Crawley on January 10, 2014 at 11:28am

This is really interesting to me. I think we do have theory about the different pieces and why we use them, but it is another challenge to explain to others WHY they work. So I am very excited to see what emerges in this discussion. We often ask people to trust the process and evaluate after. As if to share too much of the thinking behind the approach might lead to disengagement and skepticism. Sort of a "you have to try it out/ be part of it to believe it" idea. We encourage folks to trust the process, and us the facilitators or hosts, and debrief later. For some reason it almost always works! Why? Because it is collaborative. It takes into account the lived realities of those in the room and what is alive for them, it builds on all of the strengths we each bring. how could it fail to be effective?


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