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Art of Hosting

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“The Art of Hosting” is a method of participatory leadership for facilitating group processes, as used by a loose-knit community of practitioners.[1] In their method, people are invited into structured conversation about matters they are concerned about while facilitators act as hosts. This community group understands “hosting” as a certain way of facilitation that is supposed to have the capacity of making emerge the collective intelligence that people possess. As an approach to facilitation, The Art of Hosting is focused on “improved, conscious, and kind ways of growing a capacity to support a deliberate wisdom, unique to being together,”[2] and also relies on a specific attitude to process organization. The practitioners see this methodology of engagement as a way to bring people in complex, social systems into convergence on collective actions, with the participants discovering and proposing their own solutions.[3]


The Art of Hosting is a specific approach and methodology for group facilitation and systems change, developed and curated according to a commons or open-source model by an international community of facilitation practitioners.[4] Starting around the late 1990s,[5][6] or early 2000s,[2] the community shares methods, tools, and terminology to improve how people can understand and mobilize to respond to complex social, political, and economic change in a participatory manner.[7] It applies dialogic techniques [8] and complex systems analysis (e.g. the Cynefin framework and Chaordic organization), and is partly informed by social theories, including structuration, actor-network theory, and situated knowledges.

People in this community typically use a certain set of theories and metaphors to make group processes understandable, such as Theory U, to draw insight into human interactions.[6] They draw upon a bundle of facilitation methods such as Open Space Technology, World café (conversation) and Circle process/practice.[9] They apply techniques of Appreciative inquiry and Fishbowl in a customized way depending upon the purpose of the engagement.[5][10][11]

The approach is rooted in a practice framework that help facilitators attend to "conversations that matter," referred to as The Four-Fold Practice.[2] [12] Furthermore, the framework of Art of Hosting gives attention to posing significant questions for group consideration,[4] and documenting results from the dialogue sessions, termed ‘harvesting.’[7][11] As in their experience creating fruitful group processes only comes through practice and refinement, the community terms its overall approach an “art”.[3][6] In their work, those who initiate group conversation are often termed ‘callers,’ as they call or invite people to engage around a specific shared challenge.[13] One focus is on the practice of constructing and holding dialogic “containers”, meetings or processes bounded in space and time, which support constructive group processes and enable new insights and decisions to emerge.[12] Practitioners claim that well-hosted events and projects increase the adaptive capacity of the group.[6]

These metaphors and methods are developed and applied by a self-organising learning community. There is no central institution deciding what belongs to the canon – it emerges from what the community uses and evolves through a process of informal peer review that focuses upon application.[11] The community's media of exchange and documentation are practice-oriented webpages,[14] and grey literature.

Examples of application[edit]

The approach is used in diverse settings, including health care reform,[15] the European Commission,[7][16][17] higher education,[18] sustainable development, as well as a methodology for evaluation[19] participatory action research[20] and community-based leadership development.[4] Overall, the approach is intended as a methodology for nurturing innovation[21] and building experiences in democratic decision-making in the context of civic engagement.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Montuori, Alfonso; Donnelly, Gabrielle (2020). "Creativity and the Future". In Runco, Mark; Pritzker, Steven (eds.). Encyclopedia of Creativity. Vol. 1 (3rd ed.). San Diego, USA: Academic Press (Elsevier). pp. 250–257. ISBN 9780128156148.
  2. ^ a b c Woolf, Tenneson; Corrigan, Chris (2020). "The Art of Hosting and Harvesting : Conversations That Matter". In Cady, S.H.; Gorelick, C.K.; Forde-Stiegler, C.T. (eds.). The Collaborative Change Library: Your Global Guide to Transforming Organization, Revitalizing Communities, and Developing Human Potential. Perrysburg, OH: NEXUS4change.
  3. ^ a b Quick, Kathryn; Sandfort, Jodi (2014). "Learning to Facilitate Deliberation: Practicing the Art of Hosting". Critical Policy Studies. 8 (3): 300–322. doi:10.1080/19460171.2014.912959. S2CID 52245229.
  4. ^ a b c Sandfort, Jodi; Bloomberg, Laura (2012). "InCommons: supporting community-based leadership". Community Development. 43 (1): 12–30. doi:10.1080/15575330.2011.645045. S2CID 10363202.
  5. ^ a b Montuori, Alfonso; Donnelly, Gabrielle (2018). "Transformative leadership". In Neal, J (ed.). The handbook of personal and organizational transformation. New York: Springer. ISBN 9783319668925.
  6. ^ a b c d Handler, Martina; Omann, Ines; Hübner, Renate (2019). "Art of Hosting oder: Wie können Konferenzen durch ihre Gestaltung transformativ wirken?". In Hübner, Renate; Schmon, Barbara (eds.). Das transformative Potenzial von Konsum zwischen Nachhaltigkeit und Digitalisierung: Chancen und Risiken. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. pp. 153–174. ISBN 9783658260392.
  7. ^ a b c Magzan, Maša (2011). "The Art of Participatory Leadership: A Tool for Social and Organisational Development and Change" (PDF). Journal of Engineering Management and Competitiveness. 1 (2): 21–26. ISSN 2217-8147.
  8. ^ Bushe, Gervase R.; Marshak, Robert J., eds. (2015). Dialogic Organization Development: The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change. Berrett-Koehler. ISBN 9781626564046.
  9. ^ Baldwin, Christina; Linnea, Ann (2010). The Circle Way: A Leader in Every Chair. New York: Berrett-Koehler. ISBN 9781605092560.
  10. ^ Holman, Peggy; Cady, Steven; Devane, Tom (2007). The Change Handbook (2nd ed.). Berrett-Koehler. ISBN 9781576753798.
  11. ^ a b c Sandfort, Jodi; Quick, Kathryn (2017). "Deliberative Technology: A Holistic Lens for Interpreting Resources and Dynamics in Deliberation". Journal of Public Deliberation. 13 (1). Article 7.
  12. ^ a b Corrigan, Chris (2015). "Hosting and Holding Containers". In Bushe, Gervase; Marshak, Robert (eds.). Dialogic Organization Development: The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change. Berrett-Koehler. ISBN 9781626564046.
  13. ^ Baldwin, Christina (1998). Calling the Circle. The First and Future Culture. Bantam. ISBN 9780553379006.
  14. ^ "Art of Hosting Online Community". Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  15. ^ Wheatley, Margaret; Frieze, Deborah (2011). Walk Out, Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now. Berrett-Koehler. ISBN 9781605097312.
  16. ^ Dratwa, Jim (2014). "How values come to matter at the European Commission: Ethical experimentations of Europe". Politique européenne. 45 (3): 86. doi:10.3917/poeu.045.0086. ISSN 1623-6297.
  17. ^ Garcia Azcarate, Tomas; Terrile, Daniela (2015). "What Do Young People Think About the CAP? An Experiment". EuroChoices. 14 (3): 52–57. doi:10.1111/1746-692X.12100.
  18. ^ Lundquist, Leah; Sandfort, Jodi; Lopez, Cris; Sotela Odor, Marcela; Seashore, Karen; Mein, Jen; Lowe, Myron, eds. (2013). Cultivating Change in the Academy: Practicing the Art of Hosting Conversations that Matter within the University of Minnesota. University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy. hdl:11299/155523.
  19. ^ Schwartz, Alissa (2016). "Evaluating participatory facilitated conversations within the Art of Hosting framework". In Fierro, Rita Sinorita; Schwartz, Alissa; Smart, Dawn Hanson (eds.). Evaluation and Facilitation. New Directions for Evaluation, 149. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 95–106. ISBN 9781119258551.
  20. ^ Sandfort, Jodi; Sarode, Trupti (2020). "Exploring Art of Hosting Frameworks and Methods to Enhance Research". In Burns, Danny; Howard, Jo; Ospina, Sonia (eds.). Sage Handbook of Participatory Research. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications (published 2020-11-29). ISBN 9781526440501.
  21. ^ Mahy, Isabelle (2012). "From the Artists to the Managers: Responsible Collective Innovation Practices, Inspiration Flowing Through Hosting and Harvesting Profound Change". In Melkas, Helinä; Harmaakorpi, Vesa (eds.). Practice-Based Innovation: Insights, Applications and Policy Implications. Springer. pp. 193–211. ISBN 9783642217227.
  22. ^ Sandfort, Jodi; Quick, Kathryn (2015). "Building Deliberative Capacity to Create Public Value: The Practices and Artifacts of Art of Hosting". In Bryson, John; Bloomberg, Laura; Crosby, Barbara (eds.). Public Value and Public Administration. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press. ISBN 9781626162617.