Freedom and StructureFebruary 22, 2010 Leave a comment
In the upcoming edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, IISC gets a mention for our work with both Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and their Change Agent Project as well as the work we did with our client The Davis Foundation and their project Cherish Every Child. In each instance IISC partnered with our client by providing them a collaborative approach and architecture that scaffolded them in their pursuit of their collaborative goals.
Our job is to design and facilitate the strategic thinking and consensus building process that yields the very best outcome. Yet here is the thing…when we present our methodology (presented above in what we call our Pathway to Action, a meta frame for collaboration) to colleagues, they very often have what can only be described as a schizophrenic response. I am told, “you seem to have a very successful approach to collaboration but we worry that it is too rigid and may not work for us”. Typically this statement comes after multiple conversations regarding the flexibility of the model and how it provides us with the structure that allows for the very freedom and innovative space that is needed.
I think of these conversations as metaphors for the more existential reflections on freedom and autonomy in relationship to structure and discipline. I remember being in conversation with a Benedictine monk and understanding the relationship between these opposites for the first time. He was explaining the “horarium”, the hourly schedule kept by monks every day of their lives. The purpose of the horarium in monastic life is to provide a disciplined structure within which the monk can find the ultimate freedom to focus their mind on the present moment and their connection to the divine.
How do you understand the connection between structure and freedom?