The Art of Hosting

Pasted from an email conversation:

I still want to have a dialogue with you AoH folks about the term "chaordic" some day.  My understanding of chaos is that it has an inherent ordering principle and process embedded within it already, hence does not need the addition of the "-ordic" part to get there.  How do you all see this?

Chaordic was originally conceived by Dee Hock to describe a form of governance that blends chaos and order.  My experience is that for people unfamiliar with complexity science. who may not know that chaos leads to order, the term is a useful construct to talk about the balance.  In English, most people would characterize chaos as highly unordered. The chaordic path for me is a lovely map of how to walk the balance between chaos and order, and when we engage in design to ensure that we are giving attention to forms that work with both chaos and order, form and life, yin and yang, creativity and structure... you
name it.

The questions in the stepping stones are used by me within this philosophical context to give us just enough form to hold the life that is present in a group of people so that it can be directed to a particular purpose.  Too much form and apathy appears.  Too much chaos and people check out.  The balance point is the sweet spot.


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Thanks for showing me this way of thinking about it! I get that most people thinking of chaos do not see its inherent ordering ability. So, you see this idea ("chaordic") and these questions ("stepping stones") as providing enough structure to encourage emergence of new orders, without predefining what the outcome would look like?

Right... my experience is that when we use these questions specifically for designing participatory meetings, we stay focused on need and principles especially. That gives us a flexible container in which to design, rather than rushing straight to a structure decision. So instead of "planning a world cafe" we plan a gathering that will meet a specific need, produce a specific harvest and accelerate certain practices. Sometimes a cafe is the right approach, other times something else is called for, But my experience is that it is wise to cultivate life that will fill a form rather than choosing a form and hoping life will fill it.


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