The core of my work is held through the Art of Hosting and its grandmother, circle practice. From the Art of Hosting site:
The Art of Hosting is a highly effective way of harnessing the collective wisdom and self-organizing capacity of groups of any size. Based on the assumption that people give their energy and lend their resources to what matters most to them – in work as in life – the Art of Hosting blends a suite of powerful conversational processes to invite people to step in and take charge of the challenges facing them. It focuses on convening strategic conversations as a driver for development and change.
But this is more than a suite of methods – it is also a practice. We call it The Art of Hosting, because it is an art to become skillful at helping ourselves and others work well together, especially in these times of increasing complexity. We talk about hosting, because what is offered here is not a typical facilitation or moderated session. It gives attention and care to all aspects of people’s work together, intending to host them in being successful, just as any person welcoming guests will make sure they have everything they need to make their visit fruitful.
The Art of Hosting Conversations That Matter takes into account the whole process – all the preparations before the participants come together, what happens while they are working together, and how the results of their conversation – the ‘harvest’ – support next steps that are coherent for their purpose and context.
Hosting is a pattern and a practice that allows us to meet our humanity in ourselves and in each other – as opposed to trying to be machines when meeting. It’s about becoming savvy about how to foster relationships, how to nurture growth and development. The Art of Hosting supports wholeness by bringing together a loose set of tools, maps, models and practices. Dialogue is used to work with diversity to create emergent solutions, to hold groups and communities in the uncertainty and fear of not knowing, and to converge, prototype and design wise action.
It is about practices that embrace complexity, support individual and collective leadership and resilience in times of change, uncertainty and fear. Some of it feels ‘new’ and is also very very old: it goes back to when we first discovered fire and came together in circle and formed social systems. As Christina Baldwin said “The circle was the paradigm shift at the foundations of our human evolution, and collaborative conversation is the paradigm shift again that will prevent our extinction.”
Human conversation is the most ancient and easiest way to cultivate the conditions for change—personal change, community and organizational change, planetary change. If we can sit together and talk about what’s important to us, we begin to come alive. ~ Margaret Wheatley