The Chaordic Path and The Power of Asking Questions

My colleagues, Max St John, Anna Carlson and Steve Winton recently shared some practical tools and techniques they came armed with after an an Art of Hosting weekend. This blog post is a collection of thoughts about how one of these techniques in particular made me realise the power of asking questions.



One of these was a model, or framework, called The Chaordic Path. This is essentially the relationship between chaos and order, and is something I can relate to very well in my every day life.

Most people will favour, recognise or relate to an environment which strongly holds one of these binaries at it’s core. Whether it’s in their personal or work life, some people will lean towards the chaotic side of the path, and others, the ordered side.

Personally, I sit more towards the chaotic side. As a consultant at NixonMcInnes, doing the type of work we do, in an environment which experiences so much change, you need to be fairly flexible in your ability to adapt and embrace chaos.

However, The Chaordic Path demonstrates the need for a balance of these two binaries in order to be more effective within these environments – whilst sitting bang in the middle of the pathway is idealistic.

To strike this balance, or to become remotely close, a minimum amount of chaos in a structured world is required, and visa-versa.

This could mean, in an ordered world for example, ‘doing something different‘. A recent Meaning Conference speaker, Karen Pine, talked about the significance of this – breaking out of normal routines in every day life. Wearing different clothes, taking a different route to work or just changing the position of your desk in the office are all potential opportunities to change your outlook on life and, as Karen argues, also changes your personal effectiveness and well being.

In a chaotic world, the minimum amount of order required to increase effectiveness, could be as simple as starting out with a question.

The idea of starting with a simple question for any ‘chaos’ experienced is fascinating for me.

This can be powerful for organising ‘chaos’ intrinsically, ie. your thoughts, or it could be a means of structuring something more physical, like a meeting for example.

In fact, I’ve started using this little trick for pretty much everything and I’ve found it extremely useful. I even started this blog post with the question, “How will I implement some of the recent models and frameworks learned, to improve my work?”.