What is the most remarkable dialogue you are engage in at this moment? Not a decision, evaluation, or a conversation. Rather dialogue where one builds on the ideas of others, asks questions to clarify intent, and willingness to listen without judgement. Patrick Davis lead a remarkable session at the BoardSource Leadership Forum building a case for the power of dialogue.
Has your enterprise spent as much time in dialogue as it spends discussing the budget? Why not? We rarely address transformational issues by making a quick decision or collecting data. Rather, it is in our divergent discourse that we offer ourselves the opportunity to engage with new ideas.
Two individuals who have developed compelling frameworks for centering ourselves around dialogue are Bohm and Bonnie. Their guidelines follow:
No group decisions (we make fewer decisions than we realize already)
Suspend judgement and suppress “we have already done that” thinking
Build on ideas with ‘yes, and…’ statements
Be aware of which lens we are using as engage
Establish clear intentions
Listening not only what is being said, but why it is being said
Avoid building a case against or for while listening
Promote advocacy and unscripted thought
Engage in inquiry with questions that allow for greater understanding
Ask ‘what am I doing?’ Where the head turns so goes the body
Asking ourselves to tackle the wickedly big questions is a courageous act. Balancing the interplay between hope and the brutal facts is akin to drawing an arrow on a bow. The right amount of tension and extraordinary precision can be achieved. Too little or too much tension and the impact of the arrow declines precipitously.
I am bringing the practice of guided dialogue to my ecosystem and look forward to reporting the results. I wonder which brave organizations will risk a few quiet moments and a little change to reap extraordinary rewards?
Remarkable content and insights at the BoardSource Leadership Forum. Here are ideas that I am excited to explore further.
- Leaders are spending their time in the following ares: 30% interruptions, 25% content creation, 20% meetings, 15% absorbing content, and 5% thinking.
- What books are you re-reading to confirm or challenge your original assumptions?
- Big Ideas–>Culture–>Dialogue are three areas where we can be obsessive
Cathy Trower: Stage V Thinking
- The five stages of thinking
- Stage 1: collective, analyzing, interpreting
- Stage 2: Strategic decision-making
- Stage 3: Strategic planning
- Stage 4: Execution. Reviewing progress against the plan
- Stage 5: Sensemaking
- Engage board members as thought partners, not technicians
- Distinguish between discussion (action focused) vs dialogue (exploration and new ideas)
Thomas McLaughlin: Nonprofit Collaboration
- Alliance is required for economic, resource, and operational sharing. Mergers required in a corporate to corporate union.
- Corporate structures are allergic to mergers so they need time and both parties have to win.
- Honoring the brand is important.
- Culture is exponentially more important that strategy.
- Ask, what does success look like? Who else has done this before? What did the merger look like?
Richard Mittenthal: Governance 3.0
- Consider strategic initiatives that embrace the entire ecosystem your organization occupies, not just your enterprise in isolation.
- Build board capacity by providing board with the vocabulary and technical understanding necessary to discuss programs.
- Distinguish between collaboration and collective impact. Collaboration does not give-up much whereas collective impact sacrifices for the whole.
- Is your organization breaking down the board walls by inviting external guests and taking field trips?
Gigi Woodruff: Advancing Governance
- Search YMCA’s Board Leadership Competency Model for great resources
- Six Competencies
- Emotional Maturity
- Functional Expertise
- Ask the board: How will we show-up? How are we related to the bigger opportunity? Which competencies are you going to commitment to during the next year?
- Who on the board asks, what just happened?
- Recruit new board members by allowing them to tell their stories and sell themselves to you
Holly Duckwork: Ctrl+Alt+Believe
- Reboot your organization by transcending history and hierarchy
- Dying organizations have three common themes: fear, doubt, lack. Growing organizations: faith, courage, abundance
- Ask, what are we optimistic about?
- Combine two best practices to create a new practice
- Zappos top five core values are remarkable
- Wow through service, embrace and drive change, create fun and weirdness, be adventurous and creative, and pursue growth