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Our friend, Peggy Holman, posted the message below to the National Coalition of Dialogue and Deliberation list.  I so enjoyed the exchange that I asked Peggy if it would be okay to post it here. 

I especially appreciated her description of "conversationally-based practices such as Open Space Technology, Appreciative Inquiry, and the World Cafe.  These practices involve naming an intention without attachment to the specific form the outcomes
take.  So they are not as open-ended as Bohm dialogue and they are not
as directed as highly facilitated processes.  They don't require sitting
in a single circle for hours but do support an emergent exploration of
what holds meaning for participants.  I consider these practices
dialogic."


My intention in posting this exchange between Peggy and Peter will is the possibility of generating a discussion here about the differences you have experienced between the "conversationally-based practices" and other methods you use.  And as Peggy indicates, I am not attached to a particular outcome :-)

PEGGY'S POST ON NCDD LIST

On Sep 12, 2010, at 10:27 PM, Peggy Holman wrote:

Peter,

I know the list has moved to other subjects.  Still, I wanted to reply to your thoughtful response to my question about what led you to focus on personal transformation as the center of gravity for Bohmian dialogue.

I am struck by the similarities and differences in our experiences and conclusions.

We share a number of parallels: publishing, practicing, teaching, and experiences with a range of methods. I am in no way a Bohm scholar.  And, like you, what I know of Bohm's work has been tremendously influential.  For me, the influence was both personally transforming and affected my beliefs around what is possible with groups of people and social systems in general.

It became clear to me that our experiences and beliefs took a different turn when I read:
Most other facilitated engagements are, honestly, aimed toward helping
people make decisions and plan outcomes.


I'm guessing that while we both have worked with a variety of methods, we focused on different types of processes.  I say that because I wouldn't describe most of the methods I've worked with in the way you did above.  Nor would I describe them as instrumental.  (Note:  I'm defining instrumental as involving defining plans and generally executing them step-by-step to accomplish some pre-determined intent.  Is that what you mean?)

I have worked with practices that I'd describe as instrumental when I was involved with Total Quality Management.  Since then, my experiences have been almost exclusively with conversationally-based practices such as Open Space Technology, Appreciative Inquiry, and the World Cafe.  These practices involve naming an intention without attachment to the specific form the outcomes take.  So they are not as open-ended as Bohm dialogue and they are not as directed as highly facilitated processes.  They don't require sitting in a single circle for hours but do support an emergent exploration of what holds meaning for participants.  I consider these practices dialogic.

I also experience
There is a zeal at the heart of activist work that does not appreciate the stillness of "just sitting with others."

This issue is in part what took me from working with Bohm dialogue to these other practices that also struck me as focused on what you described as:
intra-personal transformative consciousness, not one of planning and coordinating action, or of even dialogue about appropriate actions or consensus.


So having offered a little more of your story, I can see how we have come to different conclusions about dialogue's role in serving individuals and collectives.  Thank you.

I am agnostic about the risk you see in
engagement streams presentation, my
concern is that inexperienced facilitators may find this and consider the
mapping as a definitive representation based on expert experience


I'm not sure anyone has found a good answer for how to characterize different types of practices.  Our interaction may be a great example of that dilemma!  It seems that we have many unspoken assumptions in our exchange.

With both editions of The Change Handbook, I've been involved with attempts to create a viable taxonomy.  I haven't found a satisfying approach as yet. I like the orientation of Sandy's engagement streams. And like what we did with The Change Handbook, while some aspects work, other aspects are misleading.

And we keep experimenting...

appreciatively,
Peggy



On Sep 7, 2010, at 6:42 AM, Peter Jones | Redesign wrote:

Peggy, it's always great to read your reflections and to learn from your
experience. You're certainly one of the regular people on these discussions
whose presence is clear and engaging.

Like you, I've published articles on practices and theory of dialogue. I've
practiced and taught a range of methods. I've adapted my preferred
approaches and those methods from others I respect in thoughtfully framed
engagements. And I would not consider myself a Bohm scholar, but one that
respects his work and intentions. His dialogues with Krishnamurti have been
hugely influential in my own thinking and what I would call personal
transformation.

I don't mean to encapsulate or categorize personal transformation as a
particular path or process. When writing for list communications such as
these, my intent is not scholarly, my distinctions are more intuitive to my
experience. The distinction I make here is simply one between instrumental
applications and personal, transformational intentions. My perspective on
Bohm's work is that it's not about instrumental action, but an inquiry into
inquiring processes of the individual, supported in dialogue with the deep
listening of committed others. To me that's a transformative process.

I see real consonance with the subtitle you reference from Bohm's Changing
Consciousness: Exploring the Hidden Source of the Social, Political, and
Environmental Crises Facing our World. The hidden source is an
intra-personal transformative consciousness, not one of planning and
coordinating action, or of even dialogue about appropriate actions or
consensus. Most spiritual traditions also have a notion or process of
personal transformation that enables those doing good works (activism) to
clarify their intentions and to be free from biases toward outcomes and
political aims that would entangle their heart work with people in the
world. I see Bohm dialogue helping in that way, to free consciousness from
those traps.

Most other facilitated engagements are, honestly, aimed toward helping
people make decisions and plan outcomes. They are instrumental. I have
organized and worked with many activist organizations, from arts groups to
democracy activists to voting rights to regional planning, all for "fun" and
not profit. I've developed applications for educational planning. In all
these cases, my understanding is that these are among the most
action-oriented, outcome driven groups of all. There is a zeal at the heart
of activist work that does not appreciate the stillness of "just sitting
with others." There's a well known danger of activist burn out as well,
where Bohm work would help a lot. But from what I've seen, a Rubicon point
of awareness or failure is necessary for one to step away from the cause and
seek intrapersonal inquiry.

Perhaps your experience is different, but this is what I'm pointing to in my
experience. I could go on with examples, but this should help you see my
perspective.

So with respect to outlines like the engagement streams presentation, my
concern is that inexperienced facilitators may find this and consider the
mapping as a definitive representation based on expert experience. This is
how graduate students would treat such a guideline. As such, I think there
may not be enough context to frame the application sufficiently for helpful
employment of the practice, given some of the experiences people are
describing here.

All the best, Peter

http://designdialogues.com  http://designwithdialogue.com



-----Original Message-----
From: Peggy Holman [mailto:peggy@PEGGYHOLMAN.COM]
Sent: Sunday, September 05, 2010 5:22 PM
To: NCDD-DISCUSSION@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG
Subject: Re: [NCDD-DISCUSSION] On Bohm and Dialogues

With apologies for coming late to this thread.

Bohm dialogue was an early and influential part of my entry into working
with participative practices.

In 1993, I attended a learning symposium in Portland, Oregon that headlined
Peter Senge.  I believe the organizers held three such gatherings around the
country.

I arrived to a room with 2 concentric circles of about 180 chairs.  I'd
never seen such a set up before.  Peter opened the day into a Bohm-like
dialogue.  I recall him offering the guidance that we speak only if called
to do so from within ourselves.  If something someone said moved us, rather
than reacting to it, he encouraged us to follow an internal inquiry, to
notice what had touched (or triggered) us.  And only if following that
internal thread moved us to do so, to offer something to the whole group.  I
was enraptured by the depth of the inquiry and dialogue that ensued.

Later in the day, I was in a circle of about 60 with Bill Isaacs, learning
more about this notion of Bohm dialogue.

When I got home, a fax arrived from another conference participant.
(Remember faxes? This session pre-dated ubiquitous use of email.)  Using the
conference roster, one participant reached out to everyone in the Seattle
area to see if they wished to continue exploring Bohm dialogue.  A small
group - 10-15 of us - met monthly for a couple years.  While we never had
the numbers that Bohm suggested, the learning was powerful.

Later, I attended one a Dia*Logos workshop, not to mention reading Bohm's
"On Dialogue", and one of the early influences on my thinking, Bohm's
"Changing Consciousness".  (I highly recommend Changing Consciousness.  It
was my first introduction to the notion that everything that exists in the
material world is a result of our thinking.)

Anyway, all of that is to say, that my experience with Bohm dialogue was
both theoretical and practical.  And profound.  I think, like many
practices, there is a simple, methodological aspect to Bohm dialogue.  As
such, I do think it has a place in methodologically oriented publications,
like Sandy's Engagement Stream.  Like many practices, it is so much more
than that.  It offers a profoundly powerful world view.

I came away from my early experiences with a deep appreciation for
suspending assumptions and for inquiry.  It led me to a personal practice
that I still sometime introduce to others: that when I want to disagree, to
instead say, "that's an interesting perspective.  Tell me more."  And then
shut up to listen.

My experiences changed my consciousness about dialogue and about the nature
of consensus.  I experienced people coming to a different order of
understanding - in a sense consensus without any formal process - as I heard
my thoughts coming out of other people's mouths and heard others describe a
similar phenomenon.  Through my experiences - both in the small group and
the intensive with Dia*Logos, with about 40 people, we experienced changes
in both individual and collective thinking that led to changes in action.

Which leads me to what actually prompted this message.  Peter - I want to
call out a statement at the end of your message below:
I don't see the practice as enabling the activist models of social change
but instead personal transformation.

While personal transformation certainly can and does happen as a result of
Bohm dialogue, my understanding of Bohm's intent and my experience with it
was about social systems.  In "On Dialogue", Bohm opens by talking about
breakdowns in communication.  With dialogue, he was experimenting with
practices that might change our thinking - our collective thinking - so that
we might awake to take a different course than the destructive path we were
unconsciously pursuing.  You could say he names that intent it in the
subtitle of Changing Consciousness:

Exploring the Hidden Source of the Social, Political, and Environmental
Crises Facing our World.

So, I'm curious what led you to focus on personal transformation as the
center of gravity for Bohm dialogue?

appreciatively,
Peggy



_________________________________
Peggy Holman
peggy@peggyholman.com

15347 SE 49th Place
Bellevue, WA  98006
425-746-6274
www.peggyholman.com
www.journalismthatmatters.org

Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity
www.engagingemergence.com

The Change Handbook
www.thechangehandbook.com

"An angel told me that the only way to step into the fire and not get burnt,
is to become
the fire".
-- Drew Dellinger






On Aug 21, 2010, at 7:25 AM, Peter Jones | Redesign wrote:

Rogier - I quite agree with your expression actually, and I think we're
talking about different aspects of the same thing. I demur your dissent by
asking that could you know my understanding of Bohm from my rather cursory
expression? That very difference and distinction between the capacity to
express in rapid writing (at 6:00 Friday in my case, before dashing out
the
door) and one's understanding in the tacit ways of knowing that happen in
the moments of dialogue, or listening together.

I also don't mean to collapse Bohm and Buber into the same breath, but to
illustrate two fundamental sources of dialogic knowing that both expressed
strong positions about what dialogue is and isn't. And to say these are
also
(surprisingly) backed up by communications research such as Dervin's, who
suggests both rigorous attention and personal insight are not only
attainable but necessary. I really didn't intend on educating anybody,
even
though I do teach sometimes, but my intent was more to express my
perspective that there are dialogic practices that have drawn on sacred or
philosophical traditions that we might acknowledge as different in class
and
practice than the dialogue practices we typically discuss in NCDD.

My position was also simply to say that I believed these traditions do not
align with methodology, and are not practices that can be defined and
presented as alternatives in a practitioner toolkit. They do not fit the
instrumental requirements (organized efficiency) that our clients may
request of our services. Ardent practitioners who have deeply learned from
Bohm or the Buber traditions may find some conflict between their own
experience of possibility with dialogue practice and the "meeting
management
methods" that we are often expected to perform. That's why I was
attempting
to cautiously critique the inclusion of Bohm in the Engagement Streams - I
think Bohm informs our other practices, but should not be seen as a
method.
My reason for calling out the "3 rules" were to show that as method, David
Bohm didn't have much to say. He was not a methodologist in this domain.
However, as a human experience of interpersonal learning and self
exploration, there was and is much to learn.

What Bohm seems to say to me is don't worry about perfect form, dialogue
will happen as a matter of human understanding if you set the intention
and
lightly facilitate. I completely agree the practice requires paying
attention to one's internal understanding, what you referred to as
proprioception (which I understand as a perception of physical internal
relationships, such as the position and function of internal organs in
biofeedback. I would call this indwelling.) And due to this orientation of
expression that is almost reversed from instrumental, outcome-oriented
facilitation, I don't see the practice as enabling the activist models of
social change but instead personal transformation.

Best regards, Peter


-----Original Message-----
From: Rogier Gregoire [mailto:gregoire@mindspring.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 21, 2010 2:16 AM
To: Peter Jones | Redesign
Cc: NCDD-DISCUSSION@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG
Subject: Re: [NCDD-DISCUSSION] On Bohm and Dialogues

Dear Peter,
I must dissent from your rather cursory understanding of Bohmian
Dialogue and your characterization of Bohmian dialogue as a process.
It is not simply a process, it is a practice and those loosely held
rules are essential to holding the conversation but not the dialogue.
It seems that you have an erudite and well researched understanding of
Bohmian dialogue but what is your experience in practicing bohmian
dialogue and under who's facilitation? Martin Buber ideals and ideas
are within the Abrahamic milieu but that paradigm does not fit with
either the cosmology of Krishnamurti or the divine insight of the
Buddha critical to understanding or even conceiving the broader
possibilities of Bohmian dialogue. to my mind they hold different
paradigms even when they are informed by each other.

The processes and engagement streams are not even in the same frame of
reference of Bohmian dialogue either in practice or in purpose. The
purpose of BD (Bohmian dialogue) from my perspective is the liberation
of the self from the distractions and deceptions of the objective
reality by a formal and critical examination of the assumptions formed
out of the objective reality. It is a search for the "self" not some
falsely framed notion of  a Freudian Id but an effort to establish
with increasing understanding who we are as individuals in an
infinitely diverse universe.

This is not about the polity or some fantasy called participatory
democracy but the establishment of the integrity of the individual
through dialogue. (A profoundly held notion of Socrates.)

There are two questions that constantly arise for me out of my
experience as a human being, what is this? the objective reality and
who am I? the subjective reality. both are inextricably bound together
and they not only drive my enthusiasm for Bohmian dialogue but inform
my continuing practice of it, with just three easily understood guides
to maintaining the conversation and forth (inquiry) to provide a
predicate for transformation. One could see a common theme with Buber
but it is a tenuous one at best.

My comments on your understanding of Bohmian dialogue should not be
seem as a denial of your point of view but an attempt to bring a
different view of Bohmian Dialogue to the conversation. Sadly there
are not many practitioners about and even fewer facilitators so I felt
obligated to respond as best as I can.

Your faithful servant,

Rogier Gregoire

Views: 49

Replies to This Conversation

Dear Christine

How thrilling it was to read this exchange on Bohmian Dialogue...thanks to all who made it happen and to you for thinking to save us for the rest of us. Love, Cliodhna

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