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Materials from the La Leche League Chaordic Planning Team:
Report from the Board: October 2000 Board Actions

Anne Easterday, Secretary, LLLI Board of Directors
From LEAVEN, December ­ January 2001

The LLLI Board of Directors met in Schaumburg, Illinois USA from September 28 through October 2, 2000. The temperature was warm enough to eat lunches outside. Who would have guessed we could do that in the Chicago area at this time of the year? Inspired by the beautiful fall weather, much was accomplished during our time together.

Planning Committee

The most exciting action brought before the Board was a motion from the Planning Committee.

The LLLI Board of Directors initiates and supports LLL participation in a chaordic process. La Leche League will pursue this process with The Chaordic Alliance in harmony with the philosophy and purpose of LLLI. We expect, and hope, that this will raise many questions among Leaders.

What does chaord mean?

The word was formed by borrowing the first syllable of the two words "cha" from chaos, "ord" from order.

A "chaord" is 1 any self-regulating, adaptive, nonlinear, complex organism, organization, or system, whether physical, biological or social, the behavior of which harmoniously exhibits characteristics of both order and chaos. 2 an entity whose behavior exhibits patterns and probabilities not governed or explained by the behavior of its parts. 3 the fundamental organizing principle of nature.

Chaordic means 1 anything simultaneously orderly and chaotic. 2 patterned in a way dominated neither by order nor chaos. 3 existing in the phase between order and chaos.

Many leading scientists believe that the principle science of the next century will be the study of complex, self-organizing, non-linear, adaptive systems, usually referred to as "complexity" or "chaos theory." They believe that such systems arise and thrive on the edge of chaos with just enough order to give them pattern, but not so much to slow their adaptation and learning. Chaordic does not mean "no rules" or "anything goes," but it does mean that commonly agreed on purposes can be pursued in creative ways while maintaining commonly held principles.

What does this have to do with La Leche League?

While La Leche League Leaders share a common purpose and philosophy, we do not always have the same ideas about how we should work together. La Leche League has grown immensely as an organization-from its beginnings with a small group of women in Franklin Park, Illinois USA, to an organization serving mothers and babies in more than 60 different countries, in ways that could not have been imagined in 1956. Many Leaders have noticed that this growth has often been ahead of the supporting structure-and that how we work together may sometimes hinder creativity and pioneering efforts. For at least the last fifteen years, questions of LLL structure have been debated among Board members and Leaders around the world. Rather than looking for a single perfect structure, we plan to build a collective understanding of principles such as self-organization, autonomy, and owner-participation-principles that resonate with LLL values. Then we will use these principles to explore together the variety of creative structures that can emerge (chaordically) to serve the needs of La Leche League.

Where did this idea come form and how did LLLI connect with it?

In September 1999, three Leaders (two Board members and one staff member) attended a workshop on organizational development. They heard about self-organization through a chaordic process from Dee Hock and Tom Hurley of The Chaordic Alliance. They were intrigued and began further research into the potential of chaordic ideas and LLLI. Was this as good a fit as it seemed to be? The Board of Directors met with Tom Hurley of The Chaordic Alliance at the March 2000 Annual Session for a presentation of the ideas and discussion of the process. The Board was intrigued and followed by organizing another meeting in May of 2000. Thirty Leaders representing each Zone in the LLLI world and four members of The Chaordic Alliance discussed and evaluated the feasibility of a chaordic development project for LLLI. Discussion has continued among Board members, among attendees of the feasibility meeting, and with other interested Leaders since that time.

What is The Chaordic Alliance?

They work with individuals and institutions to conceive and implement new forms of organization that are as flexible, innovative, and diverse as the increasingly complex worlds in which they have to operate.

Their web site defines their purpose as The Chaordic Alliance is committed to creating the conditions for the formation of practical, innovative organizations that blend competition and cooperation to address critical societal issues. We believe there is a way to welcome the emerging complexity of a technologically sophisticated world as we build enduring, highly adaptive institutions.

Many Leaders will have other questions. Be assured that more information will be shared throughout the organization. In the meantime, good places to start include

** The Chaordic Alliance web site at www.chaordic.org

** Dee Hock's book Birth of the Chaordic Age

** Talkchaordic, the unofficial LLL email discussion list devoted to chaordics. To subscribe, visit the web site http://groups.yahoo.com/group/talkchaordic and click the "JOIN" button.

Members of the LLLI Board of Directors Planning Committee are happy to receive your questions as well through either Lynne Coates coatesly at efn.org or Susan Deo nasdeo at earthlink.net.

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