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:

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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]