The Six Lenses
Vol. 37 No. 6, October-November 2001, p. 108.
Boulder Creek CA USA
One of the greatest difficulties in understanding the chaordic initiative has been the vague quality to questions and answers about "just what is this…?"
The intention of the Chaordic initiative is to use the tools that the Chaordic Commons offers us to look deeply at what all Leaders see as the heart and essence of LLL. We are not "going chaordic" as seems to have become a common catch phrase. Just as there are various exercises and skills within the Human Relations Department that we can use to improve our communication skills, our consultants have many exercises and skills we can use to improve our understanding of how the structure of LLL works.
To do this work we have four teams. The Planning Team handles all of the logistical details. The Drafting Team is chosen to represent the larger LLL community. It includes Leaders from all over the world plus a doctor and a father. Their job is to function as a "think tank" and to delve deeply into the questions that the rest of us will also need to think about if this process is to be successful. The third team is the Review Network, which acts as the eyes and ears and voice of the Drafting Team. It is the responsibility of the Review Network to get the information out to Leaders and mothers as well as to convey their responses back to the Drafting Team. The fourth team is the Funding Team. Their job is to write grants to seek funding for this process.
The tools we are working with use six "lenses" to took at the LLLI world. Just as a magnifying lens gives the impression that things are larger, the use of these theoretical lenses gives us the ability to look closely at fine details we might not otherwise consider or even notice. The Drafting Team will be focusing on each of these lenses at a particular time in their work together. The intent of the questions the Drafting Team sent out is to help them look at LLLI through these lenses with the eyes of the whole community. (See box.)
The Six Theoretical Lenses
It is important to realize that the work on this project is not linear. The teams won't focus solely on a single lens and then go on. Instead, they will use what they learn from looking through each lens to form or develop their work on the next project. At times, what they learn from one lens will mean going back and looking again through an earlier lens. A common symbol for this process is a spiral rather than a straight line.
During the beginning of their work, the Drafting Team is focusing on Purpose and Principles. They are looking for a sentence of a approximately 15 words that encapsulates the purpose of LLLI. They may use some of the wording we already have in our existing Mission or Purpose. The Drafting team met in early September to write a rough draft version of this Purpose statement. They will send it to the Review Network in a report. The Review Network in turn will disseminate it to the whole of LLLI in order to get feedback and generate further discussion.
To help determine our purpose, the Drafting Team submitted questions to the Review Network which were widely disseminated. (See LEAVEN, June-July 2001, P. 63, or the LLLI Web site.) They will continue to incorporate additional responses into their work throughout the process. If you haven't yet responded, there is still time to do so. A statement Purpose should be the basic reason for our existence as a community and an anchor for connections between the individuals of the community. Purpose does not change over time, even though our understanding of it might change. It speaks to an abiding and important activity within a healthy society and gives meaning to every step within the organization. If we are confused by what we are doing as part of LLL, we can sit back and ask ourselves how this project/goal fits into our Purpose.
A look at Principles is the second part of the work the Drafting Team will undertake in September. Principles can be considered a personal credo for relating to others within the community. For the whole of the organization Principles are statements of common beliefs that are unbreakable. It will be important to communicate to the Drafting Team any feelings and thoughts regarding the common beliefs that hold us together as a community or organization.
The last thing they will be looking at this year is Participants. This will define who is "part" of LLL. Who are all the relevant and affected parties? This could be interpreted to be simply mothers and Leaders or it could include fathers, whole families, health care professionals, other breastfeeding organizations, and others.
Starting in the end of this year and going into the early part of 2002, the Drafting Team will begin to look through the lens of Organizational Concept. The Drafting Team may ask the question: "If anything imaginable were possible, what would be the nature of an ideal organization to pursue our purpose, in accordance with our principles?" Organizational Concept looks at specific structures and governance processes. A strong Organizational Concept has a powerful connection to Purpose and Principles, it continually suggests new possibilities, is elegant and simple, and suggests many possible starting points.
It is expected that the Drafting Team will begin focused work looking through the lens of Constitution some time in mid 2002. This will become a document that outlines the rules and relationships within which we can pursue our goals. Legal advisors will need to review this work. The goal is for the Constitution to be complete and ready to be voted on by March of 2003.
The last lens to look through is Practices. This will be ongoing into the future. It will not be the Drafting Team or Review Network that does this part of the work. It will be each individual Leader. It cannot be imposed upon people. Practices come from Leaders as to what is most appropriate in their communities and in their situation in keeping with the focus created by Purpose and Principles, and the guidelines of Organizational Structure and Constitution.
Chaord-Literally a blending of the words chaos and order. Refers to the balance point between the two extremes in which the benefits of both can exist together.
Chaordic-The descriptive form of the word Chaord. Something that has the tendencies of a chaord.
Chaordic Commons (CC)-The name of the consultant company that LLLI have hired to work with us. They were formerly known as the Chaordic Alliance. They changed their name when changing their structure to more accurately reflect their company goals. They chose the word Commons because it refers to the idea of a common area in which many different types of companies can meet on the same ground.
Chaordic Initiative (Cl)-Voted into existence by the Board of Directors in October 2000, this is the name of the search for a structure that all of LLL has begun. The first phase-that of forming the basic structure and constitution, has a completion goal of July 2003.
Drafting Team (DT)-The individuals who will focus on the work of drafting a statement of purpose and principles as well as a constitution. This team is made up of Leaders and others from all walks of LLL life. They are from all over the world. Some have been Leaders since the beginning of LLL. Others are new. Some have grandchildren. Others are parenting their first babies. There is also a father and a health care professional on the drafting team.
Funding Team-This team is working on finding funding sources for the chaordic initiative that do not interfere in any way with funding sources already in place or approached for helping mothers and babies. The ultimate goal of the funding team is to create new connections for grants and other sources that can be used after the intense work of the initiative is over to help all of LLLI.
Planning Team-This team was formed by the Board of Directors to create the initial work. They worked closely with the Chaordic Commons to develop the Review Network and the Drafting Team. They also have been in charge of budgeting for the whole project up to this time. It is unclear whether this team will stay in existence as it now stands or will continue to provide various support in other forms. The nature of this kind of flexible structure allows for this kind of ambiguity.
Review Network (RN)-The individuals who will focus on creating links from the community to the Drafting Team. This team is also representative of Leaders all over the world and with varied experience. Some have been involved in LLL management for many years. Others are Applicants or Group members.
Places to go for further information:
On the LLLI Web site we have a section for chaordic initiative materials. This is constantly growing. The directory page is at:
At this site you can find information including who is on each of the teams, an application to be a support person, and the questions for discussion mentioned in the article. Most important for those wanting to understand and be part of the process, there are a number of documents that the Drafting Team and the Review Network have been and are discussing.
Lisa Serebrin lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA with her husband, Frank, and their three sons Dashiell, Julian, and Ezra. She has been a Leader for 6 years, and led a Group in Houston, Texas, USA for 5 years before moving to Arizona.