Building in deeper conversations in what we do

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —May 2, 2006
Filed in Communication

Denham Grey says:

In a world of information and knowledge, the key process for business is conversation.

At the same time we never seem to have time for good discussions. Many of our conversations appear largely transactional, designed to achieve the task at hand.

There are a number of techniques which foster dialogue. They can’t be used without a specific business purpose in mind, but when included in an initiative they create an opportunity for people to engage in in-depth conversations. And people love it!

  • Most significant change helps people evaluate the impact of those projects which are difficult to measure. Stories of significant change are collected and then people are brought together to select which they think is the most significant. This selection process requires discussion, argument, listening and in the process people learn about base assumptions and what people value.
  • Open space technology is a facilitation technique designed for small to very large groups to identify the issues that are most important to them and then once identified people nominate the topics they wish to discuss.
  • Appreciative inquiry involves people interviewing one another about the things ‘that work around here’. People hear one another’s stories and the group discusses what the stories reveal  in order to design improvements.
  • Anecdote circles involve people coming together to share their work experiences in the form of stories. They are typically used to size up a situation.

These techniques can form a key part of any change process because they perform the dual role of informing us of what’s really happening  and  by engaging people in conversation new social connections form, meaning emerges, assumptions are surfaced, energy is created and a range of possibilities materialise. It’s for these reasons we should include more conversation-fostering techniques wherever we can.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

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