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.
(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. You will find an example of such patterns, which I wrote three years ago, here. (To comment on that one, you have to register there.)
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.
I 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. Stay tuned.