The next 4 slides break the rules of presentations as they are very wordy however the comments by Bossidy and Charan are best shared as is – please read the notes as they outline excellently aspects of dialogue in its business context. Get the book, it is a great read.Book reference: The Discipline of Getting Things Done. Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan (with Charles Burck).
The Importance of Robust Dialogue – Reading Slide 1 of 4“You cannot have an execution culture without robust dialogue – one that brings realityto the surface through openness, candor, and informality. Robust dialogue makes anorganization effective in gathering information, understanding the information, andreshaping it to produce decisions. It fosters creativity - most innovations and inventionsare incubated through robust dialogue. Ultimately, it creates more competitive advantageand shareholder value.Robust dialogue starts when people go in with open minds. Theyre not trapped bypreconceptions or armed with a private agenda. They want to hear new information andchoose the best alternatives, so they listen to all sides of the debate and make their owncontributions.When people speak candidly, they express their real opinions, not those that will pleasethe power players or maintain harmony. Indeed, harmony - sought by many leaders whowish to offend no one - can be the enemy of truth. It can squelch critical thinking anddrive decision making underground. When harmony prevails, heres how things often getsettled: after the key players leave the session, they quietly veto decisions they didnt likebut didnt debate on the spot. A good motto to observe is "Truth over harmony." Candorhelps wipe out the silent lies and pocket vetoes, and it prevents the stalled initiatives andrework that drain energy.”Source:Execution - The Discipline of Getting Things Done. Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan (with Charles Burck). Page 102 – 105.
The Importance of Robust Dialogue – Reading Slide 2 of 4“Informality is critical to candor. It was one of Jack Welchs bywords. Formalitysuppresses dialogue; informality encourages it. Formal conversations andpresentations leave little room for debate. They suggest that everything is scriptedand predetermined. Informal dialogue is open. It invites questions, encouragingspontaneity and critical thinking. At a meeting in a formal, hierarchical setting, apowerful player can get away with killing a good idea. But informality encouragespeople to test their thinking, to experiment, and to cross-check. It enables them totake risks among colleagues, bosses, and subordinates. Informality gets the truth out.It surfaces out-of-the-box ideas - the ideas that may seem absurd at first hearing butthat create breakthroughs.Finally, robust dialogue ends with closure. At the end of the meeting, people agreeabout what each person has to do and when. Theyve committed to it in an openforum; they are accountable for the outcomes.The reason most companies dont face reality very well is that their dialogues areineffective. And it shows in their results. Think about the meetings youve attended -those that were a hopeless waste of time and those that produced energy and greatresults. What was the difference? It was not the agenda, not whether the meetingstarted on time or how disciplined it was, and certainly not the formal presentations.No, the difference was in the quality of the dialogue.”Source:Execution - The Discipline of Getting Things Done. Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan (with Charles Burck). Page 102 – 105.
The Importance of Robust Dialogue – Reading Slide 3 of 4“In the typical corporate meeting - a business review, for example - the dialogue isconstrained and politicized. Some people want to shade and soften what they say toavoid a confrontation. Others need to beat those theyre talking to into submission. Ingroups that contain both types of people (which is the case in many meetings),dialogue becomes a combat sport for the killers and a humiliation or bore for thepassives. Little reality gets on the table, and the meeting doesnt move the issuesforward much.Now think of a meeting that produced great results - that got to the realities andended with a plan for results. How did it happen?Dialogue alters the psychology of a group. It can either expand a groups capacity orshrink it. It can be energizing or energy-draining. It can create self-confidence andoptimism, or it can produce pessimism. It can create unity, or it can create bitterfactions.Robust dialogue brings out reality, even when that reality makes peopleuncomfortable, because it has purpose and meaning. It is open, tough, focused, andinformal. The aim is to invite multiple viewpoints, see the pros and cons of each one,and try honestly and candidly to construct new viewpoints. This is the dynamic thatstimulates new questions, new ideas, and new insights rather than wasting energy ondefending the old order.”Source:Execution - The Discipline of Getting Things Done. Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan (with Charles Burck). Page 102 – 105.
The Importance of Robust Dialogue – Reading Slide 4 of 4“How do you get people to practice robust dialogue when theyre used to the games andevasions of classical corporate dialogue? It starts at the top, with the dialogues of theorganizations leader. If he or she is practicing robust dialogue, others will take the cue.Some leaders may be short on the emotional fortitude required to invite disagreementwithout getting defensive. Others may need to learn some specific skills to help peoplechallenge and debate constructively. These people should be able to get help.But the key is that people act their way to thinking because theyre driven for results. Ifyou reward for performance, the interest in performance will be sufficiently deep tosponsor a dialogue. Everybody needs to get the best answer, and that means everybodymust be candid in their exchanges - no one person has all the ideas. If someone sayssomething you disagree with and you rudely tell him hes full of hot air, a lot of otherpeople arent going to speak out next time. If instead you say, "Okay, lets talk about that,lets listen to everybody and then make our choice," youll get much better responses.”Source:Execution - The Discipline of Getting Things Done. Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan (with Charles Burck). Page 102 – 105.
Complete The Following Sentences... Blacks are… Whites are… Japanese are… Americans are…. The English are… Parts people are…. Sales people are…. Service people are… Accountants always… Name of someone you know e.g. Susan always…
Regarding what you completed those sentences with… What are facts? Assumptions?
Jumping to Conclusions: The Ladder of Inference
Jumping to Conclusions: The Ladder of Inference Like a pane of glass framing and subtly distorting our vision, mental models determine what we see. We all use our unique mental maps to navigate through the complex environments of our world.
Jumping to Conclusions: The Ladder of InferenceResearch in brain science shows that mental maps play a largerole in perception and behaviour. More than 50% what we see isreprocessing of the information already in our brains. We live in aworld of self-generating beliefs.These usually remain largely untested. We adopt those beliefsbecause they are based on conclusions, which are inferred fromwhat we observe, plus our past experience.
Jumping to Conclusions: The Ladder of Inference Our ability to achieve the results we truly desire is eroded by our feelings that: • Our beliefs are the truth • The truth is obvious • Our beliefs are based on real data • The data we select are the real data
Jumping to Conclusions: The Ladder of Inference The ladder of inference can help us in three ways: • Becoming aware of our own thinking through reflection • Making our thinking and reasoning more visible to others through advocacy • Learning more about others’ thinking, through reasoning.
What Can We Do To Avoid Jumping to Conclusions? We can clarify a situation by asking questions such as: • What is the observable data behind that statement? • Can you run me through that reasoning? • How did you get from the (observable data) to those conclusions? • What assumptions did you make to get there? • When you said “[your inference]” did you mean “[my interpretation of it]“? • You can ask for data through open questions, e.g.; “what was your reaction to my presentation?” • You can test assumptions “Is this not what you expected?”: • Or you can test observable data “I notice you are frowning?” • Or you can present your move up the ladder “I am moving up the ladder to these conclusions, maybe we all are. Let’s share our views. What is the observable data?
What Can We Do To Avoid Jumping to Conclusions? When we all use the ladder it becomes a powerful tool for healthy communication. It is energising to show others the links in your reasoning. And even if they do not agree with you they can see how you got to your thinking and they can show where they are going. You may also surprise yourself when you understand how you got to where you are. The Ladder of Inference is a useful model to help us understand how we think.
“We see the World not as it is, but as we see it.” Stephen Covey
What is Dialogue? “…dialogue can be considered as a free flow of meaning between people in communication…"
What is Dialogue?“Dialogue is altogether a very different way of talking.Generally, we think of dialogue as ‘better conversation,’ but there is muchmore to it.Dialogue, as defined, is a conversation with a centre, not sides.It is a way of taking the energy of our differences and channelling thatenergy toward something that has never been created before.It lifts us out of polarization and into a greater sense of the commonalty, andis thereby a means for accessing the intelligence and coordinated power ofgroups of people.“William Isaacs
What is DialogueIn order for any dialogue to be effective, certain qualities areneeded: Sincerity, humility and interest.•Sincerity is needed because this is what moves the heart.•Humility is needed because this is what makes one personvalue another.•Interest is needed because it is the source of all questions.
With What Frame of Reference Do We Enter a Conversation?
Objectives for DialogueThe objective of adding more dialogue in how we go about running our business is to improve the freeing up of creativity from more of our people more often so that we can improve the performance of our business even further.Specifically, we want to make available dialogue as a tool to:•Discover how to communicate best when it matters the most.•Manage our communication “styles” under stress.•Make it safe for team members to talk about anything.•Turn conversations into actions and results that will support the business in its quest to improve performance.•Develop our people.
Benefits of Dialogue• Dialogue is one of the most effective means in the struggle against negative conditioning and prejudice.• Strategic planning and visioning sessions will benefit if diversity of opinion could be opened by means of effective dialogue.• Improved teamwork leading to better performance
Benefits of Dialogue•Dialogue has the ability to convert detractors into supporters, conflict into consensus, and add depth to business relationships.•A dialogue influences anothers perspective by you first demonstrating a deep understanding of the position (the other is in) you want to influence.•In a dialogue, your skills of collaborative inquiry and listening provide others with a profound sense of being heard.•When we feel that we are heard, we become more willing to be open to another point of view.
Healthy dialogueincreases the levelof innovativethinking andperformance incomparison to a“dialogueimpoverished”environment
Dialogue Contrasted With Discussion •Discussion has the same roots as "concussion" and "percussion.” •The Latin origin of discuss is “discutere” - to dash or shake apart. Hence, to discuss is to shake apart what others say. •In a discussion we break things down, fragment the whole, analyse the pieces, and seek to convince others of our insights. •You recognise discussion by its competitive nature. If you are only listening in order to prepare your own counter- arguments, you are involved in a discussion.
Dialogue vs. Discussion/DebateDialogue Discussion/Debate• Seeing the whole • Breaking among parts issues/problems into• Seeing the connections parts between parts • Seeing distinctions• Inquiring into between parts assumptions • Justifying/defending• Learning through inquiry assumptions and disclosure • Persuading, selling, and• Creating shared telling meaning • Gaining agreement on one meaning
Dialogue vs. Discussion •Interactive communication or dialogue refers to interacting in ways that build shared meaning (“dialogue”), rather than colliding in ways that foster disagreement, frustration and confusion(“discussion”). •Dialogue is a subtle process that may be difficult to understand, and even more difficult to actually create.
Route of Least Resistance: Default to Discussion•Often the default in business conversations is discussion.•Each side will lob its viewpoint across the table. The other will then repeat its counter-position.•You have a sense of positions being smacked back and forth like a puck in a hockey game.•If your trust of the others involved diminishes along with your patience and goodwill, you are likely in discussion.•Frequently power and rank "wins“.
If Dialogue Is So Effective, Why Aren’t More People Using It? Dialogue requires much of us: •Listening more deeply and for longer periods of time. •Inquiring of others and paraphrasing their ideas when every cell in your body wants to attack, defend or explain. •Becoming aware of your mind drifting and repeatedly returning it to the topic at hand. •Examining our thoughts and separating assumptions from facts.
Dialogue Requires• A complete shift in mind-set from telling others what you think, to inquiring of them what they think.• A deeper level of listening and a more active approach to demonstrating that you are listening to others.• An ability to penetrate into anothers assumptions and mental maps to uncover the framework that governs their behaviour.
What Does Dialogue Look Like?Recognize it when:•The business issue develops keen intellectual interest.•Everyone is involved, and people are listening deeply.•The conversation becomes animated.•You become eager to add to what someone else has said; but you are listening more than talking.•The multiple perspectives create a sense of aliveness and possibility.•Different viewpoints interest you instead of annoy you.
Dialogue: A Jazz Improvisation MetaphorA jazz improvisation is a good metaphor for dialogue. Each musician must build on what the others are already doing. The jazz musician can’t justbegin playing his favourite tune. He must listen to what others are playing, and then build on it. The result is something unique — no one person controls the musical direction. They improvise and initiate, but always in relationship to what others are doing.
Dialogue Blockers•Prejudices•Unchallenged assumptions (jumping to conclusions)•Inability to listen•Perceived time and performance pressures•Impatience•Inability to see or acknowledge blind spots•Fear – the business culture inhibits the free flow of meaning•Dysfunctional power and rank dynamics•Lack of Trust•External influences•Distractions
Power and Rank•People who have rank in a relationship are seldom aware of it.•Rank is (like) a drug. The more you have the less aware you are of how it affects others negatively.•If we are conscious of our rank we can use it well. If we are not aware of it can become very irritating to other.•Some people are aware of their rank and use their power well. Others are oblivious. When we are unaware of rank, communication can become confused and chronic relationship problems develop.•Rank is a descriptor not a judgement. So when we use the word rank it is in a neutral way and we can explore how rank is used to empower or disempower.•As with rank, power is also a neutral descriptor and its effect depends on how it is used.
Rank and How It Impacts Behaviourand Communication High rank behaviour and communication Low rank behaviour and communication styles styles• Tends to feel comfortable in the given situation, • Feels uncomfortable, as if they do not “at home” belong• Assumes that his/her way of speaking or acting • Tend to agree without thinking (it’s safer) is normative, correct • Send double signals (e.g., say yes, but with• Tends to set the agenda without consulting a body language that indicates the others opposite)• Tends to set the time and place of the meeting • Swallow their feelings — until “one day” for their own convenience that they explode• Takes charge of and/or dominates the • Eventually resort to vengeance as their only conversation tool for retaliation• Acts in a patronizing, condescending matter • Passive aggressiveness manner toward those of lower rank (“I know best.”)• Views emotional outbursts as unacceptable
Speaking Your Voice“To speak to your voice is perhaps one of the mostchallenging aspects of genuine dialogue. Speakingyour voice has to do with revealing what is true for youregardless of other influences that might be brought tobear.To say it’s challenging strikes us as a massiveunderstatement! Most organisational cultures seem toconspire to ensure that the really difficult issues remainunspoken. This helps preserve the safety of the statusquo, but creates an enormous barrier to change.”Steve Whitla, Delta7
Dialogue for Performance • Dialogue for Action •Turning possibilities into action •Securing commitment to next steps •Clarifying what could go wrong • Dialogue for Possibility •Working to generate new perspectives or ways of seeing the situation •Thinking outside of the box •Generating multiple possibilities • Dialogue for Relationship •Building mutual trust and respect •Understanding the person/team in their context •Clarifying what we want to doNotes: •Understanding what have been tried already•Start at the bottom of the pyramid and work your •Re-aligning expectationsway up. •Exploring barriers and obstacles•The process is dynamic and you will cycle backand forth.•% refers to time and effort engaged in that mode.
“Conversation Killers” Behaviour Choices We Can Fight We Can Flee “Violence” “Silence” •Attack •Withdrawn •Label •Avoid •Control •Mask Fight Flight Camp Camp
Safe Container: Absence vs. Presence Safe container Safe container absent created What is happening to you…What is happening to people… – Feel safe – Feel fear – Trust the motives of – Question the motives of the the other person or other person or persons persons – Feel you aren’t respected – Feel respected and – Feel threatened respect the other person – Understand their meaning
Some Dialogue Skills: Learn to Look •At content and conditions. •For safety problems. •To see if others are moving toward silence or violence. •For outbreaks of your Style Under Stress.
Some Dialogue Skills: Make it Safe“…Step out of the conversation, buildsafety, and then find a way todialogue…”Decide which condition of Safety is at risk: – Mutual Purpose •Do others believe you care about their goals in this conversation? Do they trust your motives? – Mutual Respect •Do others believe you respect them?
Some Dialogue Skills: Make It Safe •Apologize when appropriate. •Contrast to fix misunderstandings –When others misunderstand either your purpose or intent, use Contrasting. •Start with what you don’ t intend or mean. Then explain what you do intend or mean.
Some Dialogue Skills: Make It SafeWhen you are at cross-purposes, use fourskills to get back to Mutual Purpose: –Commit to seek Mutual Purpose. –Recognize the purpose behind the strategy. –Invent a Mutual Purpose. –Brainstorm new strategies.
Straw Man Action Plan to Build the Dialogue CompetencyThere are a few things we could do to build dialogue skills…•Honestly assess our skill at dialogue including asking feedbackfrom our people about the quality of our dialogue in the business(e.g. through survey/s)•Identify individual style as leader – do a profiling technique suchas the Enneagram, MBTI, or similar – and get some facilitationaround this for the leadership team.•Dialogue skills training•Create new forums for dialogue in the business and/or useexisting forums but relook at how we use them•Leadership to set the example•Coach, train, mentor our first line leaders•Include dialogue as a competency in our competency profiles anddevelop, measure, and reward accordingly
Information Sources and References•www.hendersongroup.com: the Henderson Group helps high-visibility teams andindividuals succeed by communicating with power, authenticity and presence•www.delta7.com (Steve Whitla Blog): Delta7 specialises in engaging employees withstrategy and change•www.centreforcoaching.co.za: Provides Integral Coaching training and consultingsolutions•www.strategyworks.co.za: The vision of StrategyWorks is to be the source ofstructured strategy definition, planning and execution, for a group of extraordinaryclients in interesting industries.•Book: Crucial Conversations, Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler•Book: The Essential David Bohm, Lee Nichol (Editor)•Book: Dialogue, the Art of Thinking, William Isaacs•Book: Execution - The Discipline of Getting Things Done, Larry Bossidy and RamCharan (with Charles Burck).