Chaordic Chat Practice

This practice starts by breaking the habit of giving and receiving immediate response in real-time conversations, texting, on skype or on the phone. It gives access to a fuller intelligence of the parties in communication. When we take any insight, a striking inspiration, or a special resonance between possibilities, into the focus of our non-judgmental observing and contemplating them, then we can access a deeper intuition. Giving room to such contemplation, before moving to expression, is a gift to the conversation’s highest potential. That is a hypothesis worth testing in the prototyping process.


Precedents of breaking the automatism that links the impulse to speak to the actual utterances, in the personal development disciplines include the Alexander Technique and Whole-body Focusing.
F.M. Alexander developed the technique by separating the impulse from the speech long enough for the impulse to find a better way of self-expression. In our context, it would be long enough for the writing on the screen to come from the deepest space of listening and broadest view of reality that one can put her arms around.
Communicating with people through published web-pages provides the conversation with a form of order or definitiveness, in sharp contrast with the chaotic spontaneity of a lively, inspired conversation in real time. Connected in the same now, between chaos and order, participants of chaordic chat use written notes (or short video clips) to send and receive thoughts as they emerge from their contemplation. Using a shared text window but without the pressure of immediate, verbal engagement, they can write from a more mindful space, yet inspired by the co-presence of the other and the field of their shared intention.
Malcom Gladwell.jpg (On the left is Malcolm Gladwell.) The second hypothesis is that people have the capacity to become increasingly talented in chaordic chat if they have what Malcolm Gladwell named as: “Talent is the desire to practice.” Chaordic chat is a fractal-like, generative process. The more deeply one engages with it, the more it sharpens the skills for it, as well as the sense of the value gained from the process. All that increases the desire to seek to learn what more is possible, leading to more engagement, leading to more talent.
We can’t prototype chaordic chat, since they always happen live. But we can prototype a pattern language and a pattern library that present successful collective intelligence practices in ways that make them easy to access, validate, and replicate.

We can also prototype a series of educational offers targeting both the leaders in business, government, civil society, and early adapter changemakers. Think of it as model for a disruptive innovation that enables rapid and peer-based develop development of collective intelligence, which scales up and down.
around the campfire.jpgI admit, at its core, there’s not much new about the principle of chaordic chat. Contemplative silence has been a key practice of the first people, sitting in council around the campfire, in all continents. What is new now is the scope and complexity of the challenges that calls for augmenting our collective intelligence, at every scale, as soon as we can. What is also new is the simple, yet powerful tools we have for making easy to record and organize insights gleaned from skype chats, and making them available to millions around the world, almost instantaneously.
I am engaged in active experimentation with such and related practices. I introduced them to some friends and colleagues, and I am thrilled by the possibilities that I see those practices can open up when they’ll grow robust enough to spread and scale up. I believe, together with other practices in the arts of collective intelligence, they will contribute to awaken our highest potential, at every scale.

There’s a sequel to this blog, on the Chaordic Tele-Mentoring page of my website, which further elaborates on some of the subjects mentioned here.

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18 Responses to Chaordic Chat Practice

  1. Wonderful article George. It seems as though this chaordic dialogue process encourages each person to be responsible for “bringing accessing the whole system in the room”!
    It actually also sounds inherently peace-generating… helping people to trust what wants to emerge through the collective…

  2. George Por says:

    Yes, the Chaordic Dialogue Practice does invite as much of the whole system into the virtual space as the participants are capable to access.
    The experience of CDP is also helping us trust that what is emerging from the generous and generative listening to self and others, is worth breaking the routine of “downloading” from the past or seeking to win a debate.

  3. Robin Temple says:

    Many thanks, George, for this interesting article. I’ve just recently come across your Community Intelligence blog and website and am enjoying catching up on all the conversations.
    On Chaordic Dialogue – two things I perhaps could contribute:
    – your proposal of ‘dis-locating’ dialogue in both dimensions of time and space opens up the possibility for the reality that is not bound by time and space to freely emerge in any such dialogue.
    This ‘non-located’ reality is the one that holds the intelligence and wisdom we so much seem to lose when we get too much caught up in our space-time ‘points of view’.
    Interestingly, this intelligent reality still ‘needs’ us, as participants in the conversation, in order to be able to contribute to the our dialogues (as ‘insights’ and ‘inspirations’) and to insert these contributions back into time and space ‘locatedness’, where we can, if we choose, take ownership of them and respond to them if we feel moved.
    The more practiced we become at contemplative silence, as you suggest, the clearer our channels of communication will become for this ‘reality-intelligence’ that is waiting to emerge through us into our everyday awareness.
    Just like the Beatles in Malcolm Gladwell’s example – we shouldn’t underestimate how much (daily)practice it takes to truly be in contemplative silence.
    We spend a lot of our days praciticing just the opposite (!) – filling up silence with all the time-and-space-related objects that can seriously interfere with any chaordic dialogue we might be hoping to develop.
    Just to say I don’t take any personal credit for these ideas above – ‘my’ contribution to this chaordic dialogue … they just ‘appeared’ quite spontaneously as the reading your article came somehow together with my (daily) ‘practice’ of trying to understand and include ‘reality-beyond-time-and-space’ in my conversations.
    On a more mundane level…
    One interesting practical support for chaordic dialogue that I can see appearing on the horizon is Google’s latest contribution to communication techology: Google Wave – that is due to be launched to the public soon.
    The possibilities of being able to add audio/video/photo/text contributions seamlessly to on-going chaordic dialogues, that can be recorded and ‘played back’ and entered into at any point… (again, freeing dialogues from being ‘fixed’ in time and space) all suggest great possibiilies for our collective learning, sharing and ‘harvesting’ in this area…..

  4. Exciting! This to me sounds a lot like Dialogue according to David Bohm. Do you consider it different in any distinct way?
    I’m particularly interested in how to successfully do that kind of thing online, in text or voice chat. My attempts of doing so have so far not succeeded, as it was difficult to get people to be in the same kind of space and mindset when there’s a rather low bandwidth connection between them.

  5. Seb says:

    Might chaordic chat be implemented using a shared tag and a tool like http://tweetchat.com/ ?
    BTW, it seems the #junto swarm are experimenting really close to this idea. http://tweetchat.com/room/junto

  6. George Por says:

    > This to me sounds a lot like Dialogue according to David Bohm. Do you consider it different in any distinct way?
    Flemming, thanx 4 pointing out the kinship with Bohm Dialogue. I knew Bohm and learned a lot from him. Unlike a classic Bohm Dialogue, the Chaordic Chat frequently has a purpose beyond keeping the conversation going. In terms of the inter-subjective experience, it is similar.
    Another diff may be the evolutionary context, i.e.in Chaordic Chat (similarly to Otto Scharmer’s “generative dialogue” and Andrew Cohen’s “enlightened communication”), we are committed to the highest potential of each other and the situation.

  7. George Por says:

    Flemming,
    > I’m particularly interested in how to successfully do that kind of thing online, in text or voice chat. My attempts of doing so have so far not succeeded, as it was difficult to get people to be in the same kind of space and mindset when there’s a rather low bandwidth connection between them.
    I get it. Chaordic Chat is more a social than an electronic technology. If you want to talk about its design principles and success factors, drop me a line.
    george

  8. George Por says:

    Seb, junto is an interesting experience, indeed. Thanks for pointing to it. I like the “combining video chat with a text box and a twitter backchannel” part.
    I’m not sure how it is different from http://www.coveritlive.com/. I see the (relative) newness of Chaordic Chat, in the combination of inner, contemplative technologies with social media.
    Does that interest you?

  9. Seb Paquet says:

    Yes, it sounds like a winning combination. I think I’m already practicing a form of chaordic chat with some people, but it’s intertwined with other activities. The other party can’t actually tell if you’re silently contemplative or doing other things in between communication bursts. Does it matter?
    Another reference point is perhaps IRC channels, where people don’t write unless they are moved to do so. But most participants do not exhibit a commitment “to the highest potential of each other and the situation”…

  10. George Por says:

    > I think I’m already practicing a form of chaordic chat with some people, but it’s intertwined with other activities. The other party can’t actually tell if you’re silently contemplative or doing other things in between communication bursts. Does it matter? Another reference point is perhaps IRC channels, where people don’t write unless they are moved to do so. But most participants do not exhibit a commitment “to the highest potential of each other and the situation”…
    Seb, both of your examples illuminate the possibility that a chaordic stance can be taken in a dialogue (physical or virtual) even unilaterally.
    However the quality of conversation tends to be much higher chaordic dimension occurs by mutual consent.
    If not, the intermittent silence of the chaordic player may appear weird and confusing in our silence-averse culture.

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  12. George, thank you so much for speaking of this and giving some hints. I have been LONGING for years for this kind of “silence gap” in groups, rather than constant talking. I need and want time to let my response emerge from deeper and I think such gaps would help others too.

    And just creating a gap is only part of the story, of course..

    Another thought: While it must be that the technology has an influence on the quality of the experience and the “results” quote unquote, I find myself believing that the intention to invoke and embody and speak as “the CI field” is far far far more important..

    • George Pór says:

      > the intention to invoke and embody and speak as “the CI field” is far far far more important…

      Absolutely!

      When that intention is there in an inter-subjective space evoked by WEpractice, Enlightened Communication, Bohmian Dialogue, or similar approaches, then “Chaordic Chat”-like phenomena can happen even without technology.

      When we use Skype, Google Hangout, or other real-time group communication tool, but without the intention to invoke and embody and speak as “the CI field,” it can be an interesting psychological experience, even personally enlightening, as my Evolutionary Mentoring clients report, but Chaordic Chat is very rarely reaching its fuller potential.

      What the technology does is:

      1. enabling to practice Chaordic Chat with participants, who can be located anywhere on the planet with an internet connection
      2. bringing in the “room” a very large number of people
      3. allowing us to “go back to read what someone wrote while I keyed – gives me a felt sense of iteration and the synapses connecting in new ways – takes me out of the linear loop into non-linearity,” as Marilyn Hamilton wrote in our chat yesterday
      4. providing us with a printable record that can be reviewed with highlighters of different colors and analyzed for discovering patterns of connection and meaning that were not readily graspable during the exchange, thus allowing to discover further layers of what has been trying to be communicated through us

      And don’t forget, Chaordic Chat is not a frozen technique, but a living and evolving methodology for evoking collective intelligence and wisdom. I learn something new about it, each time I’m playing in that field. The more we observe and share how it works, what it does to us and how it does it, the more we can refine and advance for the benefit of those who will chat next time.

      So, my plea to whoever is reading these lines and inspired to try it out with your friends, family, or colleagues, please post some notes here about what you learned about the process. I promise that i will read and comment on it, just like I did with Alia’s reply. Why not start building a virtual community of “Chaordic Chat” practice!

      Thank you Alia for triggering that possibility!

      • Learn something new each time, share, and refine!! Here’s to that!!
        GOL I actually forgot until now to give a plug for my own blog on this topic, http://exploringsecondandthirdtier.blogspot.com/2012/06/exploring-phenomenonexperience-of.html
        which has resources people can check out. At the moment I am stymied by some software glitch, on adding comments about your blog to to my own blog, but I will do my best to figure out a way to cross-link to this blog.
        Re technology: The typing thing in Skype rather quickly fried my brain and body. Maybe it was just new synapses, but it wasn’t pleasant. BUT the technology will soon be here when we can create a permanent record by simply asking the interface software to record our voices and send us all transcripts. Have our cake and eat it too !!!
        Currently it is easy to make an audio record of skype calls with Callburner which is free, and even video recordings of skype video calls with free Vodburner. (Have them, never used them, don’t know how good they are.) I imagine those digital files could then be fed into the Professional Edition of Dragon speech recognition software which can make text from digital audio files.

        Still very primitive.

        And telepathy is going to make all that obsolete sooooooo fast, and it’s coming faster than the new technologies are, IMHO.

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