5 Breaths of Design

The 5 ‘Breaths’ of Design

When we notice the diamond, we can see that it forms the basis for entire projects. This map shows five diamonds linked together, each one leading to another. These five diamonds represent five major stages in project design. In practice it feels like these are breaths, each one leading to the next.

Birth of the callers – The first breath is the birth of the callers. When a person or group is inspired to create a project, the calling breath happens. The callers come together and decide whether or not to act on the sense of things. If there is a need to go ahead, the callers often form the core team for the project and hold the intention all the way through.

Creating the ground – If the project moves ahead, the next stage is to create the ground of principles, process and people. In this breath, the chaordic stepping stones can be used to help guide the planning for the rest of the process.

Giving form and structure – The third breath is the active design of the project, be it a meeting, an initiative or a whole new organization. In this breath the core team designs what is needed and begins the invitation process.

Conversation – It is finally in the fourth breath that stakeholders come together and begin to work. This breath might be one meeting or a years-long engagement. This is the meat of the work.

Practice – As the project becomes a way of life, the core team might start to fall away and the legacy is released to the community. Founders leave, new leaders emerge and the original project’s intent is met. From here, a whole new breath can begin, and the cycle continues.

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