Thursday, August 6, 2015

Generative Dialogue by Dene Rossouw

This article was first published by Dene Rossouw on 

Generative Dialogue

In his book, Dialogue and the art of thinking together, William Isaacs introduces the concept of a container that is essential for dialogue to take place.

“Dialogue….is a conversation with a centre, not sides. It is a way of taking the energy of our differences and channelling it toward something that has never been created before. “
William Isaacs

The container is a place of psychological safety. He contends that if the elements of Energy, Safety and Possibility are not present, no dialogue will take place. In other words, a discussion might happen, but no real dialogue will take place.

We say a lot when we truly listen

One of the most powerful tools for generative and deep dialogue is committed listening, which involves a set of interrelated skills: open-ended questioning, paraphrasing, acknowledging feelings, non-verbal encouragers and summarizing.

It’s the commitment to listen to the unique experiences of another person by hearing not only the words but sensing and responding to the underlying feelings, and unexpressed meanings behind the words.

Generative dialogue

Generative dialogue creates something new. It’s a commitment to bring out the best in others with authentic conversations. Generative dialogue is appreciative and calls forth a new future through the flow of meaning in relationship. When we engage in generative dialogue, we lean towards a possible instead of a predictable future.

If the three conditions of Energy for dialogue, Safety and Possibility are evident, at least five generative actions take place:

  1. Committed listening
  2. Respecting one another
  3. Suspending judgment
  4. Coming out with an authentic voice
  5. A collective search for truth

What are some advantages of creating a space for generative dialogue?

  1. Conversations that never would have taken place are now part of the organizational culture
  2. You are having more open and authentic conversations with your staff and it is being appreciated and noticed
  3. Undiscussables are being surfaced and dealt with in a professional manner
  4. You are getting better results when having performance reviews and communicating change
  5. You are more confident having tough conversations with less stress and more success
  6. You experience better productivity and morale is improving
  7. Professional and personal relationships are enhanced
  8. Political posturing, issues and power games decrease
  9. Rework and errors decrease

When and how should a busy leader create opportunities for generative dialogue?

Answer – As often as possible. Generative dialogue is counter-intuitive because of the perception of a lack of time available in a busy day and the impulse to revert to normal discussion because it is perceived to be quicker to get results. Generative dialogue does not necessarily need to take longer, yet the rewards are extremely tangible and impactful – the more a leader models the principles of generative dialogue, the more it will happen naturally.

Dene Rossouw is the principal of Possibil – helping you build your influence and inspire innovation at work.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Ethics for Everyman: 98 years ago and still relevant

This poem was written 98 years ago. Has anything changed?

Throwing a bomb is bad,
Dropping a bomb is good;
Terror, no need to add.
Depends on who's wearing the hood.
Kangaroo courts are wrong,
Specialist courts are right;
Discipline by the strong
Is fair if your collar is white.
Company output 'soars',
Wages, of course 'explode';
Profits deserve applause.
Pay claims, the criminal code.
Daily the Church declares
Betting shops are a curse;
Gambling on stocks and shares
Enlarges the national purse.
Workers are absentees.
Businessmen relax,
Different as chalk and cheese;
Social morality
Has a duality -
One for each side of the tracks.

Roger Woddis, New Oxford Book of Light Verse (written in 1917)