In a world of information and knowledge, the key process for business is conversation.
Serving customers, forming alliances and partnerships, dealing with suppliers, discovering new opportunities, informing markets - all are conversation flows. To leverage knowledge flows within any organization there needs to be a set of 'forums'.
A 'forum' can be virtual or f2f, formal, or impromptu, scheduled or emergent, contrived or casual. What is important is granting authority to attend and participate, allowing time for personal reflection and group caucus before starting , taking time to listen deeply and closing only after including time for post hoc reflection.
Deep dialog - where creative abrasion helps to move mindsets, contributors get into a 'flow state' and personal identity is set aside, plays a key role in promoting knowledge creation.
Conversations enable experience sharing via story, metaphor and analogy, - key steps for gaining understanding, learning, sense-making and becoming aware.
Conversations allow for social connection, permit the emergence of new connections and meaning, provide the medium for promise and commitment, set the stage for future actions and encourage questions that spark deeper reflections and reviews.
In a little known book - 'The Praxis Equation: Design Priciples for Inteliigent Organization.' - Michael McMaster, 1997, p72, he suggests these waring signs when listening to a conversation:
Watch for permanence rather than process
Catch phases include, 'this is the way it is', language that suggests emergent, changing entities are fixed e.g. teams & relationships.
A fixed reality
Proclamations of a 'the real world' or an absolute truth, what statements of 'objective relatity' the speaker claims to know.
Cues are 'everyone knows', Bobby signals (tone) that discourage challenges, refutations based on social authority
Justification on historical grounds
Kill innovative thinking and negate the possibility that context has changed.
Based on speakers position, authority, expertise or force of argument.
Assumptions based on single cause, identifiable hierarchical sets, reducing complexity and emergence to linear elements.
Buzz words, inability to clarify, define, explain or provide credible examples.
Knowledge requires conversations to emerge, knowledge needs dialog, social interaction, trust and reciprocity to happen - all knowledge is social.
Don't short-change your conversations!