In the previous post about myself, I also mentioned that I am coming from the AOH community. Just to mention again: the Art of Hosting is an approach to leadership that scales up from the personal to the systemic using personal practice, dialogue, facilitation, and the co-creation of innovation to address complex challenges.
People experience meaningful conversations when they are present, when they participate, when they are hosted and when they co-create something. That is why The Art of Hosting is predicated on a very simple set of practices which are called the Four-Fold Practice. I made a visual of it. Look and think about what your practices are today or what practices you want to strengthen.
I will also bring out each stage separately in order to make a deeper sense of them.
For all hosts, personal practice is essential. Whatever you can do to bring yourself to be present with a group serves the group. Presence is about honesty and the courage to be who we are, not only with our strengths, but also with the part of us that can cause discord.
At the heart of the practice of presence is our relationship with ourselves and our constant exploration. It also means asking yourself who I am, what I consider important and where I have come in my development, where I want to move forward, what my dreams are and where my inner strength and energy comes from. Also, where are my limitations and what I don’t want to deal with right now. It is conscious of noticing and living your life.
Many great leaders have developed strong personal practices that help deepen their presence. Be it meditation or yoga or the practice of ancient martial arts. They are consciously engaged in creating time and space for themselves.
The conversation is an art, it is not just talking. It demands that we listen carefully to one another and that we offer what we can in the service of the whole. Curiosity and judgment cannot live together in the same space. If we are judging what we are hearing, we cannot be curious about the outcome, and if we have called a meeting because we are uncertain of the way forward, being open is a key skill and capacity. Only by practicing skillful conversation can we find our best practice together.
If we practice conversation mindfully we might slow down meetings so that wisdom and clarity can work quickly. When we talk mindlessly, we don’t allow space for clarity to arise. The art of conversation is the art of slowing down to speed up.
Hosting conversations is both more and less than facilitating. It means taking responsibility for creating and holding the container in which a group of people can do their best work together. You can create this container using the seven helpers as starting points, and although you can also do this at the moment, the more preparation you have the better.
The bare minimum to do is to discern the need, prepare a question and know what you will do with the harvest. If there is no need to meet, don’t meet. If there is a need get clear on the need and prepare a process that will meet that need by asking a powerful question. And always know how you will harvest and what will be done with that harvest, to ensure that results are sustainable and the effort was worth it.
The fourth practice is about showing up in a conversation without being a spectator and contributing to the collective effort to sustain results. The best conversations arise when we listen for what is in the middle, what is arising out of the center of our collaboration. It is not about the balancing of individual agendas, it is about finding out what is new. And when that is discovered work unfolds beautifully when everyone is clear about what they can contribute to the work. This is how results become sustainable over time — they fall into the network of relationships that arise from a good conversation, from friends working together.
VISUAL FACILITATION is one of the most powerful methods in AoH and that is why I learned it in the first place. It helps support the planning and harvesting the results. This is also where my first conscious scribble practice began. Of course, there are other and very deep approaches and uses for visual facilitation. I recently discovered that four-fold practice model can also be viewed from the perspective of visual facilitation. The visual below speaks for itself. Again — look and think about what your visual practices are today, where you are in this picture and where you would like to be or what you want to strengthen.
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A simple way to explore the Four Fold Practice of the Art of Hosting
The Art of Hosting is predicated on a very simple set of practices which we call the Four Fold Practice. This framework…
Art of Hosting
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