Kapittelen: Philosophical Practice Workshop by Peter Harteloh at the International Summer Seminar of Philosophical Practice organized by the International Institute of Philosophical Practice at La Chapelle (France) from the 12.07. - 18.07.2010
Kapittelen or the power of the silence.
The Kapittelen is a group meeting with a theme or a question, chaired by a facilitator ("the abbot"), in which each participant is allowed to speak, observing the rule that after each time a participant has spoken all participants have to keep silence for the same time as the speech lasted (speaking time = silence time). The rule lays a heavy responsibility on speakers. Should one speak for half of the time the workshop lasts, than all other participants have to keep silence, a not very fruitful way to work. However every process has its reason and can be observed and analysed in this way. When used for evaluative purpose one of the participants is not allowed to speak ("the young monk"). He has to listen and summarize afterwards.
Kapittelen means a short speech on worldly matters by a monk, a speech of punishment by the abbot to (naughty) monks, the place in a monastery where monks gathered to discuss a problem or a question.
Kapittelen is inspired by the monastic tradition. In monasteries the monks respected the silence in order to cultivate the contemplative life. Sometimes they gathered to discuss a problem or question. However, in this meeting they respected the silence and used it to structure the exchange of words and deepen thinking. In this workshop we use kapittelen for evaluative purpose. The abbot or leader of the monastery has to work hard. He observes the group at work, who is saying what, at what moment and guards the rule (speaking time = silence time). He intervenes when participants speak too soon. The time can be limited to 20 or 30 minutes but also undetermined. The abbot then observes and stops the process when wisdom is attained.
In companies you can use the kapittelen for evaluation, problem solving or brainstorming. The group process and its content become manifest and are evaluated. The video shows an example of kapittelen. Mark how the interaction between participants becomes more effective and less determined by loose expressions. Participants tend to become more attentive, listen to each other, more involved in each other's speech. Thinking deepens. This is a usual effect of the Kapittelen. It improves the quality of board or management meetings in organisations. Please comment on it.