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
The Innovation Conversation
The Innovation Conversation:
All of us are smarter than any of us
Keith De La Rue
Using conversation to:
• Make us individually smarter
• Improve group performance
• Increase innovation
• … and share knowledge!
• Individual performance
• Openness to change
• The power of groups
• Innovative places
• Getting people together
• Online spaces
• Putting it all together
• … Have a conversation and have some fun!
Activity – Introductions
• Introduce yourself by giving:
– Your name
– Where you were born
– One interesting true statement about yourself
– One false statement about yourself
– (Not necessarily in that order!)
• The rest of the group will decide which is which
• Have you got to know people better now?
• Did you discover any false preconceptions?
• How does this help with performance?...
Friends with cognitive benefits
- Ybarra et al, 2010
Talking to others improves individual
Brief, friendly conversations
improve executive function -
working memory, focus
Put yourself in other shoes
doesn't just reshuffle
the cards: it creates new cards
– Theodore Zeldin
From David Gurteen - http://www.gurteen.com/gurteen/gurteen.nsf/id/theodore-zeldin
Activity – Changes
• Form into groups of two
• Spread around the room
• Wait for further instructions…
• Stand face to face
• How many things can you change in your
• Look at your partner
• Turn back to back and change three things in
• Turn face to face and take turns identifying the
• How did you feel?
• How easy was it to find three changes?
• Does change always mean taking away?
• How easy is change?
"...The kind of
interested in is one which
you start with a
willingness to emerge a
slightly different person.
It is always an
results are never
guaranteed. It involves
risk. It's an adventure in
which we agree to cook
the world together and
make it taste less bitter"
In conversation we…
Draw new implications
Develop new trains of thought
We must be open…
ourselves if we
ignore the personal”
Conversation is intrinsically creative
… If we are prepared to change.
The way we talk shapes what we do
If we talk differently, life can be more interesting
Words > Pictures > Emotions > Actions
Anyone have children around?
“Don’t spill the milk!”
“Don’t take out all the pencils!”
So which gives the clearer picture?
The Power of Groups
The Courage Beer Conversations Survey
Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in
the Performance of Human Groups
- Woolley et al, 2010
Ability to perform group tasks
Independent of individual intelligence
Whole greater than sum of parts
Based from how the team works together
Women and conversation
Not easy for hierarchical organisations
- or rugged individualists
Discussion – Meetings
• When have meetings failed?
• When have they worked well?
• Would they have worked better if these patterns
The Geography of Genius
• Diverse groups of people
The Enlightenment – C18
Social Entrepreneurs – C21
• Steve Jobs bought Pixar in 1986
• Designed single building with large open space
• Moved key functions to atrium
– Meeting rooms
– Cafeteria and coffee bar
– Gift shop
• “Best ideas arrive when having a chat”
Getting People Together
Ideas Come From
Innovation – the Eureka moment?
Progress is more about
one door leading to
Sharing and recombining
… Don’t isolate the genius in the laboratory!
The adjacent possible: eg printing press
Expect the unexpected
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the
one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka’
but ‘That’s funny...’
- Isaac Asimov
New ideas in science
emerge more from
lab meetings than
from solitary research
- Kevin Dunbar
Conversations for knowledge sharing
and innovation – the Café…
A Tale of Two Cafés
World CaféWorld Café Knowledge CaféKnowledge Café
Started 1995 Started 2002
Community focus Business focus
Uses community language Uses business language
Addresses social issues Addresses business issues
Defined structure Adaptable structure
Uses Table Hosts No Table Hosts
Results “harvested” Knowledge surfaced
Discussion – Conversational tools
• What tools does your organisation use?
• When have they worked well?
• How could they work better?
Activity – Knowledge Café
• All except one person at each table move to a
different table – choose the people who are
the most different to you
How can we use what we have learntHow can we use what we have learnt
about conversation to makeabout conversation to make
our workplace more innovative?our workplace more innovative?
• Discuss for 10 minutes, then move to another
table with a different group of people
• Wrap up with open discussion
Conversations help us to …
… find the missing pieces
… face complexity in organisations
… engage people
Five rules for more
Have we all been introduced
and learned about each other?
Are we being
sensitive to each
other and taking
Is the talk friendly and constructive?
Do we have sufficiently diverse viewpoints?
Knowledge workers are
simply those people whose
job consists of having
David Weinberger, The ClueTrain Manifesto
0418 51 7676