Monday, September 20, 2010

3D Juggling 495: Big Conversations

Jane writes: "Do you remember when Tony Blair launched a 'Big Conversation' consultation exercise. Back in November  2003?  Blair said that "We must engage people about the choices needed”.  At the time critics of the idea dismissed it as a New Labour "gimmick”.  The Conservative head of policy co-ordination said "I hope he really does listen. The trouble is all the evidence is he won't”.

The idea of the big conversation hasn’t gone away – in fact it’s grown.   At its international conference later this year the International Coach Federation is introducing five Global Conversations to be held concurrently over a two-and-a-half-hour period, taking the place of a traditional keynote address.  These will be pretty big conversations!

So who does your organisation need to be having big conversations with? Whose voice do you need to hear in order to truly understand how to adapt and change in order to remain competitive and effective? Is it your customers, your suppliers, your competitors, funders? Or is it policymakers, politicians, local communities?

Big conversations need a purpose. They also need an appropriate environment and the right people need to be engaged. Here are some of the principles that you need to consider:

•    Create a hospitable place
•    Set the context
•    Explore questions that matter
•    Encourage everyone's participation
•    Cross pollinate and connect diverse perspectives
•    Listen together for patterns, insights and deeper questions
•    Harvest and share collective discoveries

Imagine what you could do if you could see and understand all the connections, dependencies, synergies and opportunities which at the moment are hidden from you, or remain undiscovered. People like to be listened to, and heard, and understood, and they like to know that they have had some influence about things that are important to them. Why not take advantage of that?"

If you would like us to help you explore how to have big conversations, come out for a cup of coffee with us to talk about how we can help you.  We'll pay!

Discuss this week's juggling at

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