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Using Dialogue Then Deliberation to Transform a Warring Leadership Team

This case study is on the use of dialogue then deliberation to transform organizational cultures. The authors are John Inman (the consultant) and Tracy A. Thompson, Ph.D. a professor at University of Washington. This case study was published in OD Practitioner in the Spring of 2013. You can reach John Inman at john@johninmandialogue.com and Tracy Thompson at tracyat@uw.edu.

The new organization normal is complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity. Old paradigms or mindsets of leadership based on positivist and linear approaches to problem solving worked well in predictable and stable contexts but they are less well-suited to address the complexity and challenges of the current world. If leaders are to create an organization that thrives in the world as it emerges, they need a different mindset, one that enables them to design and host transformative conversations (Groysberg & Slind, 2012).

Because they are rooted in constructivist and interpretive approaches targeted towards changing deep mindsets, Dialogic OD interventions (Bushe, 2009; Bushe & Marshak, 2009, Marshak & Bushe, 2009) offer an appealing means for developing leaders. We begin by discussing the importance of mindsets to OD practice, and we identify the key elements of a dialogic mindset, the kind of mindset necessary to tap into the power of conversation.

Building from methods that focus on dialogue (Bojer, Roehl, Knuth, & Magner, 2008), we identify a set of practices, what we term the dialogue then deliberation approach, which focuses on creating transformative conversations that alter mindsets and change behaviors. We illustrate how an internal OD professional used this approach to shift the mindsets of warring leaders in a business unit of a large telecommunication company, enabling them to work together more effectively. We conclude with recommendations on how to move forward with this Dialogic OD approach to changing mindsets and behaviors in organizations.

Resource Link: http://www.johninmandialogue.com/wp-content/uploads//2012/09/ODP-V45No1-Inman-Thompson.pdf

This resource was submitted by consultant and NCDD member John Inman via the Add-A-Resource form at www.ncdd.org/rc/add. John included this generous note:

I would welcome a conversation on this work any time. Please email me at john@johninmandialogue.com, visit my web site at www.johninmandialogue.com, or give me a call at 425-954-7256. I am located in the Greater Seattle area and am open to working with others.

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