Conversational Leadership: Thinking Together for a Change

After experiencing his first World Café dialogue at a program on self-organizing systems, Bob Veazie had an uncomfortable epiphany. At the time, he was a senior engineer and manufacturing manager at a Hewlett Packard plant in Oregon. In that World Café, Bob experienced how the collective intelligence of a group can become visible as people move from one table to another over several rounds of conversation, cross-pollinating ideas, making unexpected connections, developing new knowledge, and creating action opportunities. Afterward he said:

“Something profound but disturbing happened to me during those Café conversations. I realized that the boxes on my organization chart might more accurately be depicted as webs of conversations. Each day, we are engaged in conversations about different questions, just like in those table conversations, and we move between the ‘tables’ as we do our work in the company. It hit me with laser-beam clarity: This is how life actually works! So I began to wonder: If our conversations and personal relations are at the heart of our work, how am I, as a leader, contributing to or taking energy away from this natural process? Are we using the intelligence of just a few people when we could gain the intelligence of hundreds or thousands by focusing on key questions and including people more intentionally in the conversation?”

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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