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Caroline Yetman

The Chaordic Path and The Power of Asking Questions

We’re always looking at different tools to help with new ways of thinking.

(Image by Paul Bica)

A recent model we’ve been looking at is called The Chaordic Path. Essentially this shows the relationship between chaos and order.

Most people will favour, recognise or relate to an environment which strongly holds one of these binaries at its 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. Doing the type of work we do at NixonMcInnes, 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 everyday 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. Our current culture, however, is averse to asking creative questions because of our need to find quick fixes.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”


I’ve found that questions can be powerful for organising ‘chaos’ intrinsically, or it could be a means of structuring something more physical, like a meeting for example. I was even prompted to write this blog post as a result of asking myself a question, “How will I implement some of the recent models and frameworks learned, to improve my work?”.

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One Comment

  1. Enjoyed this article and wholly agree on the power of questions. Everything typed into Google is a question. I have an idea for an App based on the power of asking questions, using collective intelligence to have answers bubble up to the top, using some new techniques i.e. not anything like Yahoo Answers or Quora, closer to Wikipedia. Interested in finding out more? Looking for collaborators.

    Posted 1st May 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink