Art of conversation


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Updated version of "The Art of Conversation" for actKM Conference, Melbourne, 10 Oct 2011.

All of us are smarter than any of us - how conversations improve both group and individual performance - and why this is important to innovation.

See more background information and an article on this material here:

Published in: Business, Technology
  • Great response, Keith. Thanks for referencing the Bay of Pigs case study
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  • Ali -

    Good points. Group-think violates the 'no dominance' rules. This may be subtle to detect, but obviously dangerous. The classic 'Bay of Pigs' case study highlights the problem when the rest of the group abrogate their right to express a different opinion to a more powerful member of the group.

    The presence of passive group members then leaves it up to other members - particularly anyone in a facilitation role - to ensure that all members are encouraged to speak, and are allowed equal time to speak.

    - Keith.
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  • Keith, this is a very interesting topic. Indeed, conversations open new doors. Two points I have to converse with you. The first is about group thinking, which might dump creativity. The second is about passive partners and their ill effect on the conversational outcome. Splendid presentation
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  • Talk about conversation The importance of conversation How it can actually make us smarter
  • Zeldin English historian & author W don’t just exchange facts, we transform them reshape them draw different implications from them, and engage in new trains of thought
  • Conversations where we prepared to change The way we talk shapes what we do If we talk differently, life and work can be more interesting Conversations are intrinsically creative
  • Groups can have a consistent ability to perform tasks Independent of the individual intelligence of group members The whole is greater than the sum of its parts Based from how the team works together
  • Collective intelligence was found to correlate with Social sensitivity of group members Absence of domination by a single member Equal distribution of conversational turn-taking
  • Teams with more women had higher collective intelligence Demonstrated greater social sensitivity Not a designed part of the study Socially sensitive people better - regardless of gender Some may not find this surprising
  • Talked here before about “The Idea Monopoly” The group intelligence here does not sit well with individualists or within hierarchies Requires facilitation, not control
  • Conversation is important to innovation The sole brilliant inventor and the “eureka” moment are rare Johnson writes that good ideas happen - by sharing and recombining unrelated ideas Needs conversations by groups of people Connectedness makes us more creative
  • Johnson talks about the ‘adjacent possible’ Some discoveries depend upon others The printing press first needed invention of paper ink movable type Don’t isolate the sole genius in a laboratory
  • Further research has been done by psychologist Oscar Ybarra This shows that certain types of conversations actually improve individual mental function. This is simply talking to other people - The way you do when you're making friends
  • Only needs to be brief – 10 minutes Friendly conversations Looked at one aspect of mental function - executive function - Working memory Self-monitoring Focus Competitive conversations have no effect
  • The aspects of these conversations that helped were – Trying to understand the other person, Putting yourself in their shoes
  • Expand the range of your possible next moves by conversation Communities of Practice
  • Many conversational knowledge sharing tools The Gurteen Knowledge Café open, creative idea sharing World Café
  • Other conversational tools: Peer Spirit Circle Open Space Technology The Art of Hosting - combines a number of these for different outcomes
  • The conversation may not only be face to face; it may be virtual Microblogging tools like Yammer let us carry on the conversation What are you working on?
  • Other tools like Facebook can add to the conversation Here we can tell when people are around to chat at any time – ambient awareness With social media, we can expand our networks
  • So where does this all take us? Conversation can create new knowledge It helps us work together better It helps us to innovate It even makes us smarter individually
  • It is also through conversation that we can address the complexity we find in today’s organisations It’s how we engage people in organisations Conversation and story help us to understand emergence
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  • Art of conversation

    1. 1. The Art of Conversation: All of us are smarter than any of us Keith De La Rue
    2. 2. In the dream, the wise man said… <ul><li>Conversation doesn't just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards – Theodore Zeldin </li></ul>
    3. 3. In conversation we… <ul><li>Transform facts </li></ul><ul><li>Reshape them </li></ul><ul><li>Draw new implications </li></ul><ul><li>Develop new trains of thought </li></ul>
    4. 4. We must be open… “ We risk impoverishing ourselves if we ignore the personal” - Gurteen
    5. 5. Conversation is intrinsically creative
    6. 6. <ul><li>… If we are prepared to change. </li></ul><ul><li>The way we talk shapes what we do </li></ul><ul><li>If we talk differently, life can be more interesting </li></ul>
    7. 7. Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups - Woolley et al, 2010
    8. 8. Ability to perform group tasks <ul><li>Independent of individual intelligence </li></ul><ul><li>Whole greater than sum of parts </li></ul><ul><li>Based from how the team works together </li></ul>
    9. 9. Collective intelligence <ul><li>Social sensitivity </li></ul> Equal turns No domination
    10. 10. Women and conversation <ul><li>More sensitivity </li></ul>
    11. 11. Leadership challenge: facilitation, not control <ul><li>Not easy for hierarchical organisations - or rugged individualists </li></ul>
    12. 12. Innovation – the Eureka moment? <ul><li>Progress is more about one door leading to another door </li></ul><ul><li>- Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing and recombining ideas </li></ul><ul><li>-> Conversation </li></ul>
    13. 13. … Don’t isolate the genius in the laboratory! The adjacent possible The multiple
    14. 14. The Enlightenment – C17
    15. 15. Wisdom of crowds – cognitive problems <ul><li>Diverse membership </li></ul><ul><li>Members thinking independently </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge pooled </li></ul>
    16. 16. Talking to others improves individual mental function Friends with cognitive benefits - Ybarra et al, 2010
    17. 17. Brief, friendly conversations improve executive function - working memory, focus
    18. 18. Put yourself in other shoes
    19. 19. Get people together in conversation Community
    20. 20. Conversations for knowledge sharing and innovation – the café concept
    21. 21. Conversational tools
    22. 22. Microblogging
    23. 23. Networking, awareness, chat!/groups/323447999676/ Any conversation helps!
    24. 24. Conversations help us… … find the missing pieces
    25. 25. Facing complexity in organisations Engaging people
    26. 26. And then you woke up… <ul><li>… But I’ll give you </li></ul><ul><li>the five rules for </li></ul><ul><li>more innovative </li></ul><ul><li>meetings! </li></ul>
    27. 27. <ul><li>Have we all been introduced ? </li></ul>
    28. 28. <ul><li>Is everyone open and willing to change ? </li></ul>
    29. 29. <ul><li>Are we all taking equal turns ? </li></ul>
    30. 30. <ul><li>Is the talk friendly and constructive? </li></ul>
    31. 31. <ul><li>Do we have sufficiently diverse viewpoints? </li></ul>
    32. 32. <ul><li>Let’s talk about it… </li></ul>@kdelarue 0418 51 7676 [email_address]