If the Art of Hosting is an approach to leadership consisting of a set of practices for facilitating conversations, then what is the purpose of the company itself? Is it a consulting company that works with organizations looking to effect change in a different, less "traditional" way? Is it a non-profit committed to changing the world, one community of practice at a time?
In our conversations we felt like we were discovering a pattern / architecture that lay underneath all of the methods - a more fundamental pattern. We felt that if we could teach this it would better equip people to design and deliver more participatory approaches in their context - whatever they were … literally equip people to design there own processes, rather than just pick one from the shelf.
The Art of Hosting is not a company. It is a global community of people on a shared inquiry on how we can build greater participation and therefore wiser decision making and action for the common good. The closest analogy is that it is like open source software. There is no central decision making body, set of rules or regulations that run it. In fact, I think the more people seek the locus of power in the Art of Hosting community, the more confused and frustrated they become! Not that there is not a differentiation among practitioners; there are some who have been doing it longer, or have stronger experience in different types of sector or activity. There are people that consider Art of Hosting a spiritual path, some who consider it a community building tool, others that see it as a way to transform our organisations, others that apply it for large scale systems change. There is no simple way to define it - because so many people define it in so many different ways. For me, that is the beauty of it. It is what you make it and the global community is fed by what we share back from individual or group experiences.
But really ... who is in charge? Where does decision making power and quality control lie? There must be some structure ...
One of the greatest things about the Art of Hosting for me is that no one can own it. It is not a brand that anyone can take as their own. It is platform for people to develop their own work and then find their own unique way of turning up in the world. I think that is why it has spread so organically - the network lives its rhetoric in that it creates the conditions for people to figure things out themselves, rather than giving them a set of tools to get certified in and go deliver. The learning never ends.
What I think I'm really trying to do is figure out how to break the work of AoH down into more traditional, "corporate" terms that the leaders in my institution will understand and appreciate. My end goal is to garner support for my involvement in work about which I am instinctively and inherently passionate. Any clarity you can provide would be tremendously helpful.
Even after all these years and the twists and turns of my understanding of my work, it still basically comes down to hosting conversations that matter. If we can't figure out how to get along across our differences it is highly unlikely we'll able to overcome the complexity of challenges we are being faced with. Time to get into training then ...