Domains of Knowledge


These Domains of Knowledge – which inverted to become known as the Flame model and which expand the Iceberg – come straight from my lacing with dialogos and submersion into the waters of collective intelligence. A journal entry from 1999, when i was first exploring how to visually represent dynamics of conversation beyond words, charts the possible range between notes and space.


This sharing, in a circle of about 30 dialogue practitioners, spoke to identifying “forces at play” that inform facilitative moves, or gestures. The domains stretch between the explicit (behavioral) and the implicate (awareness-based) orders, and indicate the importance of attending to all domains simultaneously. It is not a scale; rather, it’s meant as a tiered echo from inner attunement.


This is the tip of the Iceberg: events, what we notice objectively. Top of the Ladder – behaviors, actions. Words. Sounds. Literal stories.


“With structural problems, you need to make structural moves.” Bill Isaacs. As a scribe, the skill of diagnosing the structures of a group and its conversation allows for drawing in a manner that works with the structure to either relax, reinforce, or expand inherent (creative) tensions. Towards this, our role is to be “larger than the largest tension in the room,” and develop ‘predictive Intuition’ that can recognize what is going on under the surface and represent it accordingly.

To not identify the structure poses the risk of unknowingly becoming entangled IN it. How easy to get caught in a web of anger, when accusatory statements fly through the air. Or a web of fear when risk and stakes rise. Or sadness when the room fills with heart-heavy responsibility, like key leadership of a business realizing the supply chain’s impact on climate change. Or even exuberance, when the room swells with excitement over a new vision or idea. ALL of these cases can be structural, and then emotional, webs. If ensnared, our clarity can waver.


Yet…. the structure is ‘out there’ and also ‘in here’; it is of them, and it is of me! “Everybody and everything is already interrelated. We may not understand it, but there is an invisible, underlying order. This is why inquiry is necessary. This work [dialogue, interject scribing] is about underlying movements. It’s not about pulling pieces together or about change…” Peter Garrett.

In the Theory U framework, Otto Scharmer identifies Field Structures of Attention: “Downloading, Seeing, Sensing, Presencing, Crystallizing, Prototyping, Performing… Each field structure of attention embodies a particular type of relationship between the self and the world. Each one makes visible what otherwise is not: the grounding in an archetypal gesture out of which social systems are enacted moment by moment.” (Read more in a very early draft of The Blind Spot of Leadership from 2003.)

We inhabit this domain to touch the roots and very soil of social bodies, of which we are active, inseparable, participants. In field, us. In field, source. In field, a context of letting. Scribing: drawing into and of and from and for field.


Well, this must be how we stay in tune with the moment. You likely know much more than i do in this camp! I’m still learning… as we probably all are. From a workshop at the Omega Institute in 2000:


And because it kept ghosting through in the pictures – the image from the bottom of the following page on Resistance. This must be relevant to the knowledge domains, to staying aware, staying steady in all downpours, to remaining present, open.

Perhaps acceptance is a key. Perhaps scribing is a vehicle to help the social body notice and accept itself and its surround, thus return our perception of unstable conditions back to a more civil, stable, coherent place – from which the very disturbance originated and lost it’s way. ?


(And yes, i clearly need better image reproducing…. Yet will accept this as is, for now 🙂

Related to Iceberg, flipped upside down, Visual Practices: Perceiving and Being, RipplesFinding a Way into Field, and Reciprocal Zone.


In response to Jody Isaacs comment, here is another drawing that could expand this thinking further. It’s called Visible/Invisible. Maybe it’s its own post… linked to DoK?



  1. Allie Middleton says:

    lively, lovely

    Seems that you are depicting the movements in the ever-generative field of unknowing.

    resting in being, I sense your scribing as pulling, presenting and placing multidimensional material into a form for us all to further reflect on….

    ….like you are actually singing the collective unearthing of hidden harmonies!

    shine on dear Kelvy

  2. Kenneth Roberts says:

    This is great stuff. Thank you

    Also: “Perhaps scribing is a vehicle to help the social body notice and accept itself and its surround, thus return our perception of unstable conditions back to a more civil, stable, coherent place – from which the very disturbance originated and lost it’s way.”


    Perhaps that is the possibility of all facilitation…

  3. Kelvy Bird says:

    Jody – this comment means a great deal to me – as you are equally sourced here in this camp… I really like how you expand what’s expressed so far. I have another drawing that might be better suited – will add at end of the post. Let me know what you think – we can co-create an iteration perhaps? Love you and your work too!

  4. Jody Isaacs says:

    So beautiful Kelvy! A wonderful visual for what I think of ‘as above, so below’, mind and heart or heaven and earth, with the adjoining crossover line between being the present moment. The center being ‘our’ responsibility to reflect from above to clear action below. Love you and your work!