Final Stepping Stones: Structure, Practice, and Harvest

In two previous postings, I began discussing “The Chaordic Stepping Stones” developed by Chris Corrigan. I described the six of nine stepping stones: need; purpose; principles; people; concept; and limiting beliefs.

This posting discusses the last three steps which offer the opportunity to start adding colour and texture to the general shape that has been taking form.

Structure

This stage involves building on the concept, discussed earlier, and adding the details needed to give it life. Discussions about the structure are discussions about time, money, energy, and commitment.

One challenge is to find the “lightest structure” that will meet your needs. In other words, adding bells and whistles may make the initiative look good or perhaps appear innovative, but flourishes can also divert attention from the core purpose as well as important resources (time, energy, money).

To some degree, the appropriate question(s) will depend on the concept you are wanting to give structure to.

  • What is the lightest structure that will serve our purpose and need?
  • Who are we becoming when we meet and work together this way?
  • How do we support the aspirations of the group?
  • What role might the core team play when the project is over?
  • How do we wisely combine the various organizational concepts to support our work and sustain the results?

Practice

Creating and implementing a new structure will require working together over a period of time. This step is about how you work together, within the structures you are building.

For example, if you are trying to create a new structure in which people will feel safe and welcomed, then ideally the group of people creating that container will work together in alignment with the same principles.

The best questions will depend on the focus of your work. They might include some of the following:

  • What do we need to do to sustain our work together?
  • How do we extend the spirit of the gathering into future asychronous environments where we can’t be face to face?
  • How do we leverage relationships and support the work that arises from them?
  • How do we sustain and nourish our relationships and collective aspirations?
  • What commitments are we willing to make to contribute to the success of our endeavour?

Harvest

As someone who is always focused on how communications is critical to the success of any venture, this stepping stone is a bit of a favourite.

As Chris writes, “There is no point in doing work in the world unless we plan to harvest the fruits of our labours.  Harvesting includes making meaning of our work, telling the story and feeding forward our results so that they have the desired impacts in the world.”

Workshops, conferences and other short-term initiatives are seldom held for their own sake; they are just one activity designed to help meet a broader need. However, they can be a rich place to gather information, ideas, inspiration that can be fed forward to support ongoing work. Groups of people working together in new ways may not be doing so publicly, but if they pay attention to sharing their stories and lessons, they can contribute to broader learning within their networks.

“It is very important to note that harvesting is an activity that needs to be planned up front, in the spirit of “we are not planning a meeting, we are planning a harvest,” notes Chris. Don’t wait until after an event to discuss the best way for sharing what happened!

Some of the questions you might want to explore as you figure out how you can best capture the riches are:

  • What are the forms of harvest from our work that best serves the need?
  • What intentional harvest will serve our purpose?
  • What are the artefacts that will be the most powerful representations of what we have created?
  • How will we carry the DNA of the our work forward?
  • What are the feedback loops that we need to design to ensure that learning and change accelerates itself?
  • How will we stay open to emergent learning?
  • What are the questions we need to carry about what we are learning by meeting this way?

The nine Chaordic Stepping Stones discussed in the last three posts provide a guide for helping you identify and meet important needs in your community, however big or small. Rather than getting buried in details, budgets, and a list of who will do what when, it is hoped these questions will provide a chance for you to focus on the foundation of your work and ensure your energies will have the most significant impact possible.

 

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