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Chaord [kay'-ord], n., ft. E. chaos [GR. and L. chaos, n. formless, primordial matter; utter confusion; utterly without order or arrangement] and ft. E. order [ME. ordre, ft. OF. ordre, ft. L. ordo, ordinis, n. line, row, regular arrangement in accordance with rules]
1. any self-organizing, self-governing, adaptive, nonlinear, complex organism, organization, community or system, whether physical, biological or social, the behavior of which harmoniously blends characteristics of both chaos and order. 2. an entity whose behavior exhibits observable patterns and probabilities not governed or explained by the rules that govern or explain its constituent parts.

chaordic [kay'-ordic], adj., fr E. chaos and order.
1. the behavior of any self-governing organism, organization or system which harmoniously blends characteristics of order and chaos. 2. patterned in a way dominated by neither chaos or order. 3. characteristic of the fundamental organizing principles of evolution and nature.

Dee Hock & the Chaordic Commons
by Marcia Conner

If you've ever felt in your heart that modern-day organizations are not meeting the needs of those they serve, know you are not alone. Dee Hock, Founder and CEO Emeritus of VISA International felt that way for years and did something about it. He developed the concept of a global system for the exchanges of value and a unique new concept of organization for that purpose.

Since leaving VISA, he's founded an organization that runs chaordically, The Chaordic Commons, committed to the formation of practical, innovative organization blending competition and cooperation to address critical societal issues. The Chaordic Commons also develops organizational concepts that more equitably distribute power and wealth and are more compatible with the human spirit and biosphere.

This past winter I began working more closely with The Chaordic Commons to build educational programs to help others create chaordic organizations and to foster the notions of Chaordic Individuals, Chaordic Leaders, and Chaordic Educators. Clearly, the Chaordic concepts and Learnativity concepts are congruent, and our organization is run by people who embrace the duality of both chaos and order each day. For that reason, we've dedicated a portion of our site to information on being Chaordic and how you can learn even more about this organization (and personal) model.

For an indepth-understanding, I encourage you to attend one of our Creating Chaordic Organization workshops, held regularly throughout the world. The next ones will be Seattle Washington (May 2-3) and Charlottesville Virginia (May 8-10). These sessions will focus on developing Organizational Concepts. Most all of our workshops are 3-day intensive sessions with people from organizations as diverse as the United Nations, US Navy, Society for Organizational Learning, Tom Peters Co., The Institute for Play, and East Jessamine High School. Our recent sessions have included students, consultants, military officers, diplomats, academics, and business people. I've participated in plenty of workshops in my life, but none are more riveting or educational. Read an article I wrote after attending.

For a deeper understanding of Dee's work and Chaordic notions, I encourage you to  read Birth of the Chaordic Age by Dee Hock (Berrett-Kohler, 1999). This book is wonderfully irreverent, written from 3-different perspectives, challenging, inspiring, and funny. How could you go wrong? The only way you could dislike this book is if you want to believe that everything in society is perfect and getting better every day. [In Audio too.]

For just a sense of Chaordic organizations, take a look at these articles and speeches.

An Epidemic of Institutional Failure: Organizational Development and the new Millennium. A speech made by Dee Hock at the 1998 OD Network Conference. "We are at that very point in time when a four-hundred-year-old age is rattling in its death bed and another is struggling to be born: a shifting of culture, science, society and institutions incomparably greater and swifter than the world has ever experienced....The only question is whether we will get there through massive institutional failure, enormous social carnage, regression into even more mechanistic pyramids of power and their inevitable collapse with even more carnage before new concepts can emerge. Or have we, at long, long last, evolved to the point of sufficient intelligence and will to create the conditions by which Chaordic institutions can come into being? Institutions capable or their own continual learning and transformation; institutions which can harmoniously coevolve with all other institutions, with all people and with all other living things to the highest potential of each and all."

A Chaordic Walk in the Park by Joel Getzendanner (LiNE Zine, Summer 2001) Business is no longer a sprint down a straight unencumbered track. It is bobbing and weaving through unfamiliar landscapes at great speed and great risk.

A Difference That Makes A Difference. A speech by Joel Getzendanner to the Center on Philanthropy, 12th Annual Symposium. "The rapidly changing technological landscape is just one element of a much deeper set of societal changes. The institutional roles and relationships that make up the nonprofit sector will need to change dramatically before it can thrive in the next century."

The Art of Chaordic Leadership by Dee Hock. Leader to Leader, No. 15 Winter 2000. "It is true leadership--leadership by everyone--chaordic leadership, in, up, around, and down that this world so badly needs, and industrial age, dominator management that it so sadly gets."

We're Trying to Change World History. C. Salter. Fast Company, November 2000. "It sounds corny, but it's true: Bishop William Swing is a man on a mission. His goal? To change the relationships among the world's religions, from hostility to harmony."

The Trillion-Dollar Vision of Dee Hock. Fast Company, October 1996. The corporate radical who organized Visa wants to dis-organize your company.

Dee Hock on Management. M. M. Waldrop. Fast Company, October 1996. "An organization, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it."

Dee Hock on Organizations. M. M. Waldrop. Fast Company, October 1996. "Whenever Dee Hock talks to people about chaordic organizations, someone always wants to know, 'Where's the plan? How do we implement it?' But that's the wrong question, he says."

A Little Known Education System. An exerpt from a speech to the California Foundation for Improvement of Employer/Employee Relations. Sacramento, California. October 20, 1999. "I have been searching the world for educational systems that embrace chaordic principles. Let me tell you about one that is not at all well known, but extremely interesting. In this system, every individual, from birth, has a lifetime learning-account into and through which money flows from many sources including government, family, employers, philanthropy or earnings. The funds are under the direction of parent or guardian until the individual is of age."

The Evolutionary Vision of Dee Hock: From Chaos to Chaords. Bonnie Durrance. Training and Development Magazine, 1997. "Order emerges not from decree, but from the depths of our beliefs and principles."

It's Everywhere You Want To Be. Donella H. Meadows. Grist Magazine.
12.29.99. What do the Internet, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Visa International, the organization that brings us the Visa card, all have in common? You can find them just about anywhere on earth, that's one common thing. They have not spread through unrelenting market push, like Coca-Cola. Rather they are pulled by demand, because they meet real needs very effectively. They serve their purposes successfully year after year without any obvious headquarters, no glittering center of power, no centralized command. No one owns any of them. Visa does $1.25 trillion worth of business a year, but you can't buy a share of it.

"The Chaordic Organization: Out of Control and Into Order." An article by Dee Hock for the 21st Century Learning Initiative, 1996.

Forming Order from Chaos: The Chaordic Alliance Questions Financial Axioms. T. Kostigen. Sophisticated Investor on CBS.MarketWatch.com, 12/14/2000. This site requires you sign in, but the article can be retreived at no charge.

 

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