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1 Keeping Conversations strategic www.stevedenning.com.

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1 1 Keeping Conversations strategic

2 2 These slides are available from: /slides /SLA.ppt Or: send me an via

3 3 Why conversation ?

4 4 Knowledge summit: June 9-11, 2006 Ontario, Canada Knowledge management Conversation! Wow!

5 5 Conversation are central to KM: how to deal with knowledge workers command-and-control doesnt work key to the phenomenon of sharing knowledge Simple transfer doesnt work important to avoid knowledge distortion especially in vertical conversations. central to the challenge of enhancing demand for knowledge. People have to want to share knowledge

6 6 Conversations are key to managing the knowledge worker:

7 7 Organizations concern conversations 1. the conversation with their customers 2. the conversation that occurs between those who actually work there. 3. The conversation concerning the unknown future of the industry and its products.

8 8 It is difficult to make any of these conversations real if the people who come in through the door every day have no real conversation with their own individuality. David Whyte Organizations concern conversations

9 9 Conversation gets us to a deeper level We can draw to the surface undiscussable dangerous issues Most business activities deal with the routine, superficial activities of the human animal we wake up we eat we drink we go to work we get our job done We come home we sleep, perchance to dream We get ready for the next day

10 10 Conversation gets us to a deeper level The business world is often in denial about the realm of deeper feelings of the joy and exhilaration of being alive of the desire for loving and being loved of realizing that we may not realize our ambitions of balancing our own goals with those of others of coping with a looming sense of our own mortality. Conversation can reach this deeper place Unless we deal with those issues, work becomes inauthentic

11 11 Conversation can make us more creative we can lead people into a space where they are truly thinking together that in turn leads to dramatic new levels of alignment and capability. Because real conversations are authentic, it leads to genuine enthusiasm. Sandy Heierbacher The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation

12 12 There is no lever for Organizations to pull to activate peoples creativity. it is just as difficult for any individual to find their own creative powers as it is for an organization. both the organization and the individual are equally afraid of the creativity. This meeting place of creative anticipation and fearful arrival is the elemental core of the new conversation in the workplace. David Whyte: Crossing the Unknown sea Conversation helps individuals and organizations

13 13 Conversation skill is rare Management in the US is pervasively hierarchical Not getting any better A number of participants are working on it, writing about it or preparing books about it: Larry Prusak: Five conversations on knowledge Nancy Dixon: Peer to peer conversations at Company Command Steve Denning: book reviews at

14 14 What is a conversation?

15 15 Tell a 60 second story about: Either A time when you found yourself in a good conversation or A time when you found yourself in a bad conversation

16 16 Broad sense: A communication between 2 or more people Specific sense: Conversation is shared exploration towards greater understanding, connection, or possibility

17 17 Key point: A conversation is an exchange of stories

18 18 Who is in the conversation? With a group One on one Yourself Or with an object

19 19 What is a strategic conversation

20 20 Robert Hargrove Collaborative conversation: Collaborative conversations are those in which people in groups seek to realize their noblest aspirations with others from divergent views and backgrounds. It is a purposeful conversation

21 21 Different levels of conversation 1.Agreeing on the purpose of working together 2.Participants share their authentic goals, thoughts, feelings 3. Group learns to think and act together to solve problems 4. Group bonds and makes firm commitments to act together

22 22 David Bohm: dialogue Suspend assumptions and keep an open mind. dialogue suggests a "stream of meaning flowing among, through and between us, so that new understanding emerges. It is by definition open ended

23 23 David Bohm: dialogue Dialogue is a process of genuine interaction through which human beings listen to each other deeply enough to be changed by what they learn. Each makes a serious effort to take others' concerns into her or his own picture, even when disagreement persists. No participant gives up her or his identity, but each recognizes enough of the other's valid human claims that he or she will act differently toward the other.

24 24 William Isaacs dialogue Isaacs' working definition of dialogue a discipline of collective thinking and inquiry, a process for transforming the quality of conversation, and in particular the thinking that lies beneath it.

25 25 William Isaacs: dialogue Instability of the container the initial phase when participants have concerns for safety and trust which they must move through, Instability in the container, members struggle with polarization and conflict due to the clash of personally held beliefs and assumptions. Inquiry in the container people inquiring into polarization and fragmentation often with collective pain Creativity in the container new understandings based on collective perceptions emerge and people engage in more generative thinking together.

26 26 What are the characteristics of a (strategic) conversation ?

27 27 Conversation is inquiry: the intention is to inquire, not to advocate; To discover, not to convince." Tom Atlee The Co-Intelligence Institute

28 28 Conversation is about values Conversation is about what we value and how we define it. It is about looking beyond the superficial and automatic answers to our questions. It is about exploring the frontiers of what it means to be human, in relationship to each other and our world." Louise Diamond, Ph.D. The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy

29 29 What conversation Isnt…

30 30 Conversation is not argument Conversation is collaborative … Argument is adversarial…

31 31 Conversation is not debating Conversation is not discussing with a view to convince the other, arguing for our point of view, examining pro's and con's.

32 32 Ten steps towards managing a strategic conversation

33 33 1. Prepare carefully

34 34 A. Understand your strategy Preparing to the conversation: A. The story of the change

35 35 What is your strategy? where are you heading? And what is going to change? your organization your community your family your town your country your planet Preparing to the conversation: A. The story of the change

36 36 Unexpected finding: Big problem in strategy: Leaders often dont make up their mind exactly which direction. Preparing to the conversation: A. The story of the change

37 37 An 18 hour workshop just on this may not be enough! This is not a trivial undertaking! Preparing to lead: 1 The story of the change Preparing to the conversation: A. The story of the change

38 38 Getting clear on the change idea… David Whyte A firm persuasion is a kind of self-knowledge… It must be discovered, cultivated, worked at, earned. D. Whyte: Crossing the Unknown Sea Preparing to the conversation: A. The story of the change

39 39 Getting clear on the change idea… Before clarity Goal seems small, mediocre & boring It could have an impact Beating around the bush Saying things you dont mean Reasons why goal may not be achieved Goal is nice but… not necessary This will never happen here After clarity Goal seems Larger, bolder & more exciting Will make a big difference focus on the real issues Saying what you really mean Reasons why goal must be achieved Feel strongly the goal is Vital for the future This must happen here! Preparing to the conversation: A. The story of the change

40 40 Getting clear on the strategy… Before clarity Blurred Sharp focus After clarity Preparing to the conversation: A. The story of the change

41 41 Getting clear on the strategy… I dont pay you to tell me its 50-50! Preparing to the conversation: A. The story of the change

42 42 Getting clear on the strategy… Before clarity Cerebral tactical provisional After clarity + Whole person mind and heart You are committed! Preparing to the conversation: A. The story of the change

43 43 Drilling down to the core message Focus on one particular change. It will have three parts. (a) whats wrong now (b) what would it look like if the problem could be fixed? (c) how would we get from here to there? Exercise in strategy Preparing to the conversation: A. The story of the change

44 44 B. Understanding the story of the other person Preparing to the conversation: B. The other persons story

45 45 If people agree, there is no conversation! Preparing to the conversation: B. The other persons story

46 46 Whats this about? Not for me, pal! I dont get it! Who are You? We often underestimate the difficulty of strategic change 1996: Jim Wolfensohn at the World Bank from lending to the Knowledge Bank 2001: Jeff Immelt at GE from process-driven to imagination at work 1993: Lou Gerstner comes to IBM: from hardware to services Preparing to the conversation: B. The other persons story

47 47 Understanding who you are communicating to Tell the story of a person who doesnt want to change as persuasively and coherently as you can. What are his values? The story will end: Thats why this person does not want to change. Exercise Preparing to the conversation: B. The other persons story

48 48 Understanding who you are communicating to Followup exercise: Then tell the same story in the second person. It ends, And thats why you dont want to change. Then tell the same story in the first person. It ends, And thats why I dont want to change. get inside the mind of the person who doesnt want to change! Preparing to the conversation: B. The other persons story

49 49 Keep both stories in mind Preparing to the conversation: B. The other persons story The story of your strategy: where are you heading? The story of the person who doesnt want it

50 50 2. Create the container for the conversation A. Physical space - a place where you can hear and be heard

51 51 b. Create the trust needed for the conversation - get people to share their story - make it safe: establish ground rules

52 52 3. Establish the level of equality - Leave hierarchy at the door - treat each other as equals

53 53 4. Ensure Facilitation -Some say a facilitator is necessary e.g. bohm - A participant can act as facilitator - Ideally, all participants should act as facilitators

54 54 when there is abstract assertion, the conversation is in imminent risk of dying: A. X is so... B. No, it isn't. Y is so... A. No, it's X!... B. No, it's Y! (You 5. Avoid Abstract arguments

55 55 A. I recall a story about X... B. Funny you should say that, but I had a similar experience in which there was also Y... C. Another instance of both X and Y was when... D. I recall an occasion like this when... participants can contribute and add meaning, without "choosing sides". the conversation just rolls on naturally. No risk of being caught in cross-fire. the meaning generated by the dialogue is steadily enriched. 5. Instead exchange stories

56 56 6. start with the purpose of the conversation What is the issue under discussion? What is the current impact? What will happen if things continue?

57 57 Gather divergent views and perspectives. Hear everyones story

58 58 7. Weave a common story from the divergent stories. Discuss how the various stories interconnect The story of your strategy: where are you heading? The story of the person who doesnt want it

59 59 8. Explore positive stories about alternative futures - imagine an ideal outcome - what would it look like? - what would it feel like? - how would we get from here to there?

60 60 9. Keep it light! - This is not a prayer meeting! - a feature of good conversation is light-hearted badinage and raillery Stephen Miller: Conversation (2006)

61 Explore: what do we do now? - the Full implementation plan may be unclear - Whats the next step?

62 62 Taming the grapevine

63 63 Conversation is not gossip 1: light informal conversation for social occasions 2: a report (often malicious) about the behavior of other people;

64 64 Most stories told in todays firms are negative Have you heard the latest? Oh my God! Stories to disrupt the narrative dynamic

65 65 The effective satire works like a virus to disarm criticism Example: Early 1992: George Bush was campaigning against Bill Clinton Bush was attacking Hillary clinton Result: end of criticism of hillary! Clinton Campaign: Bush is not running for president. Hes campaigning to be first lady! Stories to disrupt the narrative dynamic

66 66 1.Satirize the bad news itself 2.Satirize the author of bad news 3.Satirize yourself 4.All of the above Stories to disrupt the narrative dynamic Four ways to tame the grapevine

67 67 What about virtual conversations?

68 68 Same place Different time Same time Different place Phone Listserv Virtual conversations Bandwidth is too narrow!

69 69 How do you reach thousands of people in a conversation?

70 70 Go and look into information February 1996

71 71 Why dont we share our knowledge? Go and look into information February 1996 Were a bank, remember?

72 Persuasion methodEfficacy How does one person persuade many? Charts with boxes and arrows

73 73 Chart Socialization Externalization Combination Internalization Tacit Explicit Nonaka: The Knowledge Creating Organization

74 74 A manager contemplate s the knowledge spiral

75 75 Persuasion methodEfficacy How does one person persuade many? Charts (boxes, arrows)Zero Rational argument

76 76 Knowledge Management caters to the critical issues of organizational adaptation, survival and competence in face of increasingly discontinuous change. What is knowledge management?

77 77 FACT In June 1995, a health worker in Kamana, Zambia logged on to the CDC web- site in Atlanta and got the answer to a question on how to treat malaria June 1995, not June 2015 A small remote town, not the capital Zambia, not a middle income country CDC, not the World Bank

78 78 We need to invest in the necessary systems, in Washington and worldwide, that will enhance our ability to gather development information and experience, and share it with our clients… President Wolfensohn October 1, 1996 Announcement at the Annual Meeting 1996

79 79 Story to spark action True TruthPositive Detail Purpos e Outcome Action Positiv e Minimalis t Springboard story Springboard storytelling Storytelling that can communicate a complex idea and spark action.

80 80 The Little voice in the head The springboard story There are two listeners… The Listener that I see Just think of the s building up in my office! Let me tell you about Zambia

81 81 The springboard story You tell a story in a way that elicits a second story… (You give the little voice something to do…)

82 82 The springboard story Let me tell you about what happened in Zambia What if we tried this in roads? Maybe this could work in finance? Could this help us in Russia?

83 83 Imagine if I had a website like that…. Of course, we would need to get organized We would need budgets …. We would need to get people involved …. Why dont we do it? The springboard story Everybody loves their own creation!

84 84 Story to spark action True TruthPositive Detail Purpos e Outcome Action Positiv e Minimalis t Springboard story 1.Springboard storytelling Storytelling that can communicate a complex idea and spark action.

85 85 Who can be a springboard storyteller? Everyone!

86 86 u Dogs sniff each other Human beings tell stories

87 87 u Dogs sniff each other Human beings tell stories

88 88 Large amount of material News of upcoming events Sign up for my newsletter advance chapters of my forthcoming book: The Secret Language of Leaderhsip Finding out more about storytelling

89 89 Two articles on conversation Reviews of David Whyte: Crossing the unknown sea (2001) Stephen Miller: Converation (2006) Finding out more about storytelling

90 90 The discipline of business narrative Finding out more about storytelling

91 91 Training DVD 55 minute workshop on springboard storytelling Finding out more about storytelling

92 92 How much does storytelling add up to?

93 93 Persuasion is 28% of GNP Deirdre McCloskey, American Economic Review (1995) Vol. 85, No. 2. Law Public relations Psychology Marketing Management etc What do these actually people do? They persuade other people Around 14% of GNP is storytelling

94 94 The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust

95 95 These slides are available from: /slides /SLA.ppt Or: send me an via


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