By Deb Helber, Partner
The path of learning in the Art of Hosting has been powerful and ongoing for me. I am a strategic planner by training – that has been my work and I love it. I am a practical, orderly and analytical (and yes bossy and sometimes controlling) person. I love convergence and moving into action. Traditional strategic planning processes offered that – a linear process that moved organizations to actions with timelines, assignments and outcomes…..LOVE IT!
The Art of Hosting has given me the understanding and tools to look at strategic planning as a non-linear process – without a single starting and stopping point. This was not a big “aha” moment. This was learning that percolated over time as I went deeper into the Chaordic Path (the dance between chaos and order when we are seeking something new and innovative) and the Chaordic stepping stones (a way to walk the path).
This is not to say that I have replaced the traditional steps of strategic planning (vision, mission, values, internal/external analysis, goals, strategies, tactics and outcomes) with the Chaordic stepping stones (needs, purposes, principles, people, concept, limiting beliefs, structure, practice). What has happened is a blending of the Chaordic stepping stones with the strategic planning process that provides an organization a way to move to their next level of work. One outcome has been the development of strategic plans that have more clarity around the vision and mission of the organization – driven by the real needs of the community. Another outcome has been more voices into the work, creating a broader and richer view of the organization and also creating a plan where many can see their DNA in the strategies and tactics that the organization is striving to achieve. And a third outcome has been a process that allows organizations to begin to stretch themselves into what the future needs them to be.
It’s funny as I look back at my years of working inside an organization. I use to be frustrated when an external consultant would be hired to do planning for the organization. I really felt that we had the knowledge to identify what needed to be included in the plan. It always felt like somebody came in, put together a list of things for us to do, and then left – leaving the organization with a plan that none of us felt any connection to and many times sat on the shelf.
The Art of Hosting and the chaordic path/stepping stones have given me the methodologies and practices that allow me to work with organizations on their strategic plans in a different way. I am not there to tell them what to do. Together we live and walk the chaordic path, surfacing the collective knowledge that will move us towards their vision and mission.
This way of working and being together really touches my core. I do believe that we are smarter together than alone. I do believe that every voice should have a place to be heard. I do believe that many decisions made by leaders in organizations should be informed by others - because we are more likely to move forward with change if we are part of the change and because there are so many people in our organizations and communities that have knowledge far greater than ours alone. LOVE IT!