What is the Art of Hosting?

Well, it’s not a program or a franchise or even a membership organization… It IS a network of people from all around the world who practice hosting dialogue and conversations about what really matters and step into the fire around complex problems in this world. We share and learn with and from each other on a constant basis, and we shape and reshape what practices and patterns are emerging that help us do our work in the world. 

We wonder: “What if learning together is the kind of leadership we need now?” Not that other forms are not important, but this is the one we need more of in most places.

More about the Art of Hosting patterns and practices

  • It’s conversational, collaborative, collective leadership—a leader in every chair
  • It’s leading with questions and open heart, mind and spirit instead of pretending we have all the answers 
  • It’s practicing constantly—not something you do before you ramp up to the next level of leadership. “Practice locally, share globally” is a principle. 
  • It’s facing complex problems with complex processes—and not shying away from the things that lurk in the shadows—especially our own shadows, limiting beliefs and assumptions.
  • It’s hosting and participating in conversations that really matter for people, not being in charge. 
  • It’s seeing the world as an interdependent, integral network instead of something to be exploited.

And what is the Art of Participatory Leadership?

The Art of Participatory Leadership is an ancient approach to leadership that combines new integrative personal practices, dialogues, facilitation and co-creation of innovation to address complex challenges in organisations, communities and groups of any size and nature.

The key differentiator is how well the leaders are able to rise above challenges and work from the inside out. The Art of Participatory Leadership is more than a training program. It is a response to a world that is becoming increasingly complex and fragmented, where solutions and innovations lie not in one leader or one viewpoint, but in the bigger picture of collective intelligence.

Using all the ingredients of good conversation

So why is conversation so powerful?  Conversation, more than any other form of human interaction, is the place where we learn, exchange ideas, offer resources and create innovation.  Not every conversation works like this, though.

Many people experience meetings that waste time, conversations that feel more like debates, and invitations to input which turn out to be something altogether different.  People want to contribute, but they can’t see how.  Leaders want contribution, but they don’t know how to get it.

The Art of Hosting offers a blend of some of the most powerful methods to create open and meaningful conversation that leads to commitment and good results.  Working with a range of collaborative methods – like Circle, World Café, Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space Technology, ProAction Café, storytelling and more – practitioners can tailor the approach to their context and purpose.

An art that takes practice and care

But this is more than a suite of methods – it is also a practice.  We call it The Art of Hosting, because it is an art to become skillful at helping ourselves and others work well together, especially in these times of increasing complexity.  We talk about hosting, because what is offered here is not a typical facilitation or moderated session.  It gives attention and care to all aspects of people’s work together, intending to host them in being successful, just as any person welcoming guests will make sure they have everything they need to make their visit fruitful.

The Art of Hosting Conversations That Matter takes into account the whole process – all the preparations before the participants come together, what happens while they are working together, and how the results of their conversation – the ‘harvest’ – support next steps that are coherent for their purpose and context.

The Art of Harvesting conversations that matter

Anyone who plants a garden is planning for results.  Whether the result is a fruit or a flower, a gardener is planning for a harvest. In the same way, anyone who plans to host a meeting also wants to get a good result from their efforts.  In this case, the harvest might be in the form of a project plan, or an agreement to action or a better relationship.

In the Art of Hosting community, we plan our conversation design around the harvest we want to produce.  The results we are seeking help to determine what methods we use and how.

We are continuing to grow our harvesting capacity and experiment with different forms of harvesting – digital images, photographic, musical, social media, multi-media, narrative – you name it! We think good harvesting is one of the most potent ways to assure that the agreements and decisions arising out of conversations that matter lead to action.

No formal organisational structure

The Art of Hosting network is rapidly spreading and growing all over the world, as organizations, communities, and people from every walk of life take part in this new way of working that blends the best of what we all know about the power of conversation.  We are rediscovering it, together.

The Art of Hosting network has no formal, legal structure, no appointed leader, no accreditation program and no controlling body.  It is based on a practitioner network, with local communities of practice; it is committed to learning, and generous with its sharing and support.

Becoming an Art of Hosting practitioner

Your first step to becoming a practitioner is to follow a 3-day Art of Hosting training, organized somewhere near you in the world – or maybe far away? An international group of stewards holds the deeper practice pattern and assures the quality of the trainings and the integrity of the global network.

The Art of Hosting Conversations That Matter takes into account the whole process – all the preparations before the participants come together, what happens while they are working together, and how the results of their conversation – the ‘harvest’ – support next steps that are coherent for their purpose and context.

Please visit the Resources section for short videos introducing the core Art of Hosting methods.

3-day training in Udaipur

We are happy to announce a 3-day workshop in the Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations That Matter, and Participatory Leadership. It will take place over three days, from Friday 2 December to Sunday 4 December 2016, and is hosted by Shikshantar and Swaraj University in Udaipur.

The calling questions for the workshop are:

How can I contribute to regenerating communities and transform the system I live in?

How can I become a participatory leader using the Art of Hosting approach?

Find out more

Click the button below for more information about the Udaipur workshop, and to find out how you can participate.

Udaipur, December 2016