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InnovativeCommunities.Org Foundation

Friends Building Global Community

How We Work Together


A donation to ICO makes an unmatched impact in fighting poverty and promoting education.
We are different from most organizations because 100 cents from every dollar donated goes directly toward the initiatives we support.
We take nothing for our Foundation overhead costs, which we meet through our investment portfolio.
Our ability to channel 100% of every donation directly toward an initiative makes us somewhat unique in the world of non-profits and charitable organizations.

There are 4 main reasons for this efficiency:

  1. Volunteerism:  Our Team Members are volunteers. No Team Member receives any salary or other form of payment for their work with ICO.
  2. Relationships: ICO operates by emphasizing the importance of interpersonal relationships. We start by fostering relationships between people who want to make positive social change. As these relationships develop, people recognize that they have common interests and skills they can each contribute in pursuing these interests. Specific tasks to reach this shared vision emerge naturally from such relationships.
  3. Chaordic Organization: ICO organises itself by ICO Communities and ICO Centres working "chaordically" together to produce Initiatives that reflect the wishes and needs of the local and indigenous peoples.  
  4. Online Office: We do our work over the Internet instead of in a rented physical location; this greatly reduces our operating costs.

This way of operating promotes creativity, innovation and passion in the people involved with us. No one has a set job description or assigned list of duties. Instead, our people inhabit roles that work toward our broader mission and vision.

A Brief Intro to ICO's Chaordic Organization

A chaordic organizational model embraces the inevitability of chaos while working within the order of defined roles and projects with deadlines and desired outcomes.  We set goals and work to fulfill them with an awareness and acceptance of the chaotic nature of life, innovation, development and, especially, volunteering as a student, professional or job-seeker.  The chaordic model empowers ICO to be collaborative, democratic, dynamic and, above all, to put relationships first!

The chaordic model enables ICO to be flexible, global and democratic.  Time is limited, schedules change and ICO continues to still maintain the relationships that drive our global initiatives and assist ICO communities in reaching their goals.  Primarily, we are friends working together, which means that team members support each other to complete a task--whether that is through collaboration or by picking someone up when they cannot fulfill a commitment.  If the task gets in the way of the relationship, do not do the task.  The connectivity and dynamism of operating primarily online enables ICO to employ this kind of supportive and fluid management model, wherein we are able to facilitate instant interaction across great distances, maintain a low overhead and a 100 cents on the dollar donation model, and promote accessibility for our volunteers to work when and from wherever they can.

In function, our online office makes us more adaptable to change and supports a democratic leadership model that embodies chaordic management by replacing hierarchy with collaboration.  At ICO, collaboration means that a volunteer can, in one context, be a project assistant to someone with 30 years of management experience, learning from a mentor in a practical setting, and, in another context, that assistant can be managing a project that requires the Chair of the Foundation to report to them.  For our initiatives, collaboration means that projects will emerge depending on what the community determines is essential for improving their overall wellness and ICO will then act to support the attainment of those goals through the work of passionate volunteers providing financial, operational and administrative services.  As such, an ICO initiative can be any project that promotes education or alleviates poverty, and that project will develop in unexpected and multi-foliate ways--mechanization and computer education programs have emerged in tandem in Nepal and a project that began to improve widows homes in Rwanda has evolved into three warehouses that have contributed to producing over 10,000 eco-stoves, washable menstrual pads for young women attending boarding school and eco-toilets with water catchment systems and human waste composting.

In practice, the chaordic model empowers ICO volunteers to form dynamic teams with democratic power structures, which enables volunteers to occupy diverse roles, pursue their interests, build skillsets, assume leadership and collaborate.  These teams are able to evolve to tackle changing and complex problems while adapting to changing schedules and accommodating the busy lives of the professional and academic volunteers that power ICO’s innovative passion.  The chaordic model provides an open space for self-motivated and committed volunteers to create, enact and support the projects and initiatives that underline their values.  We all share a common commitment to empower social change and community development; ICO uses collaboration as the catalyst to explore the infinite possibilities for producing this change.  Chaordic management is the philosophically foundation that informs our work together to build global community.    


Further thinking on Chaordic Organization



Many leading scientists believe that the principal science of the next century will be the study of complex, autocatalytic, self-organizing, non-linear, adaptive systems, usually referred to as "complexity" or "chaos theory." They believe that such systems, perhaps even life itself, arise and thrive on the edge of chaos with just enough order to give them pattern, but not so much to slow their adaptation and learning.

The word chaord was formed by borrowing the first syllable of the two words: cha- from chaos, -ord from order.

1: any autocatalytic, self-regulating, adaptive, nonlinear, complex organism, organization, or system, whether physical, biological or social, the behavior of which harmoniously exhibits characteristics of both order and chaos.

2: an entity whose behavior exhibits patterns and probabilities not governed or explained by the behavior of its parts. 3: the fundamental organizing principle of nature and evolution.

"Chaordic" (kay'ordic)
1: anything simultaneously orderly and chaotic. 2: patterned in a way dominated neither by order nor chaos. 3: existing in the phase between order and chaos.


Characteristics of Chaordic Organizations

  • Are based on clarity of shared purpose and principles.
  • Are self-organizing and self-governing in whole and in part.
  • Are powered from the periphery, unified from the core.
  • Are durable in purpose and principle, malleable in form and function.
  • Equitably distribute power, rights, responsibility and rewards.
  • Harmoniously combine cooperation and competition.
  • Learn, adapt and innovate in ever expanding cycles.
  • Are compatible with the human spirit and the biosphere.
  • Liberate and amplify ingenuity, initiative and judgment.
  • Are compatible with and foster diversity, complexity and change.
  • Constructively utilize and harmonize conflict and paradox.
  • Restrain and appropriately embed command and control methods, which exist primarily to enable their constituent parts.


ICO Initiatives

September 17, 2014
ICO’s Instruments4Africa provides opportunities to underprivileged children in Mali, one of Africa's poorest countries, to get an education and reach their potential. Building on Mali’s rich artistic culture, children receive performing arts training, and are part of a performing arts troupe guided by professional dance and music teachers.