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Hosting Conversations about Questions that Matter

Latin American gathering - Conversational leadership


Today we are spending the day with people from the Wisenet consulting group from Brasil, some of their clients and some of their providers who are joining us in a leadership development program based on the practices and principles of “Conversational Leadership”.


This program will take 2 days and will serve as input for the 5 modules educational program on conversational leadership that people like Carlos Mota and Maria de los Angeles are developing.


Juanitas journey – because the world needs our collective intelligence.
How many of you were told as a child to stop asking questions, or to “stop talking”, to “be seen but not heard” or that what we need is more action and less talk!

After a morning of introductions and conversations we had the pleasure of hearing part of Juanitas journey of learning, doubt and reassurance of the value of conversations in organizations and in societies. She started sharing a quote from one of Obamas speech:
“When we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter -- that at that point we don't merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves.”


Juanita told us how she, against all her predictions or ideas about her future ended up working in the corporate world, how she moved from working with the latino workers movement with Cesar Chavés to working for large companies on organizational development, how she realized was reassured by her interaction with many influential intellectuals that the organisations are conversations, that “we co-create our lives through the networks of conversations in which we participate” H. Maturana , that conversations were not something that happened before action, or as opposed to action, but that they were action, that there is no action without conversation, and that when conversations were really meaningful and alive people can´t help but organize and act.

 

She shared with us her own story where in the beginning she feared that the world café was something small and insignificant and how she then had the world and very renowned academics and intellectuals (F.Kapra, H.Maturana, John Seely Brown) making her realize how powerful was to engage people into meaningful conversations. Juanita also made us aware that this pattern has existed from the beginning of life and that conversations are the essential element to co-create the future that we want. Listening to her was both inspiring and encouraging! You can go out there and bring dialogue processes into organizations, communities, families, societies and be sure that it is not just more talk, that you in fact are CHANGING the world.
As David I. said yesterday, when you engage people in conversation around meaningful questions SHIFT happens!!


In the afternoon we were introduced to the STRATEGIC DISCOVERY PROCESS!

The key element here was how to re-frame problems or challenges as questions! Not any questions, but powerful questions...

1)situation analysis

2) issue itteration  - problems, challenges re-framed as questions

3)3 to 5 (no more than that) Big questions emerging from clusters of smaller questions

4) Success scenarios – if we were able to answer this big question what would it look like? (not the answer to the question, but what would we be doing…)

5) Strategic initiatives

 

And as this is a hands on training out we went, framing and exploring and helping each other discover these powerful questions and sharpening our Conversational Leaderships abilities!

Some valuable references:

 

Art of Powerful Questions

Conversational Leadership

 

And some questions to share with you...

How do we talk to each other? How do we listen? What kind of conversations are we having?

What kind of conversations should we be having that would allow us to take a step towards the future we want to create?

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