Organizations as conversation spaces

In working with a client CEO many years ago I observed to him that there was a conversation going on in his organization and he need to be part of it. It struck me at the time that there was so much being said and talked about and unless he was part of the ongoing conversational life he ran the risk of becoming disconnected as a leader. As it turned out, he not only became part of the conversation he came to shape, direct and mould the conversation – the skill of a true leader.

In the educational domain commentators sometimes speak of the hidden curriculum. They use this term to describe the informal and formal interactions that go on in any school, but are not easily described in all the documentation and systems surrounding the formal explicit curriculum. So it is with any organization. There are the systems, structures, processes, goals, plans and objectives. These are often documented, formal and easily accessible by all. Then there is the tacit, the ill-formed, the inchoate, the implicit, the hidden and the emerging conversations happening at every moment. It is these interactions that either give the organization life and vitality or as another client said recently leave us “all feeling a bit flat”.

Conversations are the blood flowing through the organization’s veins. They bring life, vitality and energy to the system. If they stop slow down or stop flowing then the system becomes compromised and ultimately moribund

For further insights about the nature and place of conversation in organizations, watch the video below.

Tim Dalmau

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