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How to Talk About the Chaordic Process
(Even if You Have More Questions than Answers)

Judy Baker
Walnut Creek CA USA
Nikki Julien
Olympia WA USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 38 No. 4, August-September 2002 pp. 88-9.

If you’re asking questions about the Chaordic or renewal initiative, if you dream about what LLL can do, you’re just the person to initiate a discussion in your locality. The best way to have your dreams and ideas for LLL’s future heard is to start talking. Your training as an LLL Leader has already given you the skills you need to talk about the chaordic process.

Judy Baker as a new Leader in Walnut Creek, California, USA, had many questions about the changes in LLL, and facilitated an empowering discussion during a regular Group Leaders’ meeting. Nikki Julien of Olympia, Washington, USA, has led question-and-answer sessions for the purpose of sharing information. Though Judy and Nikki had different approaches, both ended by inspiring Leaders to take an active role in creating LLL’s future.

Hosting a talk about the renewal initiative presents a learning opportunity for you and for other Leaders. You may think you can’t talk about the initiative if you don’t understand it yourself. What better way to learn than by actually helping others learn too! Putting the Chaordic Initiative into words can be a challenge, yet in doing so, you’ll find deeper understanding.

Getting Started

Chapter 2 in the LEADER'S HANDBOOK, "Planning and Leading Series Meetings," is a great resource for preparing a Chaordic discussion. The meeting can be as informal as you’d like, and the amount of preparation is up to you. Here are some additional tips to consider:

  • What is the purpose of the discussion? Collecting stories, sharing information, creating enthusiasm, promoting action, or receiving input to pass back to the Review Network?
  • How do the participants feel about the Chaordic Initiative? Ambivalent, confused, curious, enthusiastic?
  • How much do they know and how much do they want to know?

Creating a Plan

Next, decide upon your approach. Cindy Harmon-Jones of Madison, Wisconsin, USA, prepared for her meeting by collecting ideas from various chaordic email lists and discussion groups.

Judy Baker developed the agenda below for her Leaders’ meeting. It can be adjusted to meet the needs of your discussion.

  1. Discuss the basic aims of the initiative.
  2. Choose an appropriate exercise to meet the needs of the group. (See sidebar on page 89. ) Otherwise, a simple conversation may work well.
  3. Give the group contact information so that Leaders can give direct feedback to the Review Network. (See resources box on page 89.)
  4. Offer handouts such as the draft principles set, the 13 Questions, or a resource list.
  5. Gather any materials that might be needed such as handouts and writing materials. A large pad of paper or dry-erase board is a great way to keep the discussion on track and capture the comments being made.

Leading the Discussion

Think of the many ways in which to lead an effective Series meeting. Nikki Julien began her meeting by asking participants about their initial reactions and questions. Judy Baker opened her discussion by talking about her own hopes and fears for the initiative.

Set a tone of acceptance for all views; everyone’s opinions are equally important. Use your communication skills to invite mutual respect and listening. A helpful handout for the group is the Guidelines for Skillful Conversation found at LLL’s chaordic index on LLLI’s Web site. Encourage diversity of knowledge, interest, involvement, and enthusiasm. Go where the questions are; questions lead to the possibility of dialogue. Enlist the help of other Leaders to keep track of time, write on the board, or take notes.

When asked a technical question that you don’t know the answer to, "I don’t know" is a perfectly acceptable answer and presents an opportunity for learning. Either you or the participants can seek out the answer later in available resources or by asking the Review Network.

To end the discussion, ensure that the participants’ questions have been addressed. Ask if the meeting was helpful and invite input in planning the next discussion.

Exciting times abound within LLL. Getting involved empowers us as Leaders to trust our instincts, honor our visions, and stay true to our most basic purpose as an organization. Sharing your voice with co-Leaders and Chaordic teams develops a future we can all find meaningful. Remember, your questions are the springboard to initiate a discussion!

Chaordic Exercises

The 13 Questions

In the spring of 2001, chaordic teams developed a set of 12 (expanded to 13) questions that prompt thought about our commonalities, possibilities, and boundaries. These questions can be found on the LLLI Web site Chaordic pages www.lalecheleague.org/chaordic/index.html, or in June-July 2001 Leaven and December-January 2002 Leaven. Answering some or all of the questions continues to benefit the LLL community in finding what is important to LLL.

The 5 Whys

Ask "Why are you involved in LLL?" When the answer is given, ask, "Why is that important?" Ask why a few more times until deep thoughts are discovered to discern where that importance comes from. Though everyone’s answers will be unique, the group will find commonalities.

Practice the Principles

Offer a small group a situation, such as planning a family gathering or the World Walk for Breastfeeding. The Group uses the draft principle set to resolve various decisions and issues that come up while planning. The draft principles can be found on the LLLI Web site Chaordic pages, www.lalecheleague.org/chaordic/index.html

Articulating a Central Purpose

The Drafting Team’s draft purpose statements are available for input and revision. Or, try writing a purpose statement for LLL in 25 words or less without using the phrase "mothering through breastfeeding"! A group in South Africa led by Jean Ridler did: "The purpose of LLL is to nurture maternal instincts so that the full potential of the legacy of breastfeeding can be realized."

Chaordic Resources

Communications between the Drafting Team (DT) and Review Network (RN), and chaordic information, articles and resources.
ReviewNetwork at llli.org
Contact the Review Network.
Chaordic Commons Web site.
Chaordic Initiative online newsletter developed by Beth Moscov of the Review Network.
To join the talkchaordic email discussion list, send a blank message to the listed address.

Judy Baker is a new Leader in Walnut Creek, California, USA. She graduated from law school in 1999 where she wrote several seminar papers on breastfeeding and the law. Judy and her husband, Simon, have two children, Michaela, 5, and Lucas, 2, and are expecting their third child early in October. Nikki Julien is a Leader in Olympia, Washington, USA. She is mother to Alec, 7; and Linden, 6. Nikki became a "Chaordic Leader" simply by asking questions and seeking answers.

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