Conversational Paradigm LO5713

DeGuerre, Don (
Sun, 18 Feb 96 14:17:00 PST

Replying to LO5597 --

Richard Karash said: "I'm very curious about how the language/action
models are useful. They make sense to me looking backwards at
conversations, and it does make sense to me to be clear about what is a
request and to be clear in saying "OK, I'm satisfied with that" but in my
limited attempts to apply them, they have always felt too rigid, too
constraining, too inhibiting."

I have not jumped in on this thread because I don't agree with Winograd &
Flores conversational model -- too rigid and usually rejected. However,
there has been a lot of work done over the past few years to begin to
explore how knowledge is embedded in normal human discourse. Apparently
oral cultures using language can contain many more variables than written
language or mathematics. One of the characteristics that distinguishes
human beings is the use of language both intra personally and inter
personally. Therefore to begin to understand what happens in normal human
discourse around the water cooler or in the bar seems worth exploring.

Particularly John Shotter's "Cultural Politics of Everyday Life" or
"Conversational Realities" offers a very useful perspective on language as
not just representational but also formative. We use language just as the
carpenter uses a hammer. That is, to test the density, resistance,
texture of the reality (wood or culture or other person(s) etc.) in the
first couple of taps, and then to drive the nail home to shape or form a
reality. This happens constantly in rhetorical communication. I think
this is a new paradigm that is worth exploring further --- "How is meaning
socially constructed in organizations (societies)?" Words such as self
managing teams, learning organizations, high performing teams etc. etc.
have a specific and 'scientific' meaning when developed. When practiced
their meaning is transformed. How? What is the nature of knowledge
developed and embedded in 'talk?' I believe that getting clearer about
this can help us to help organization members create a better social
reality for themselves.

While in some sense all language is past (not present) because by the time
I have spoken the word to hear myself say it; or thought the thought
(using language), 'I' am somewhere else. However, ' words' and
'utterances' in conversation is the observable reality which by focusing
more intentionally on we might be better able to understand the social
construction of learning organizations in reality -- as it happens so to
speak. If so, then the interventions we make as change agents (or
whatever we like to call ourselves these days) probably has to do mostly
with creating spaces in which meaningful dialogue can take place, and we
begin I think, to look for and to improve the organizations "total
communicative apparatus" --- socially, technically, politically, etc.

Other works I am studying, include Toulmin's "Cosmopolis," Gidden's work
on the reflexivity of Modernity; Gergen's "The Saturated Self" and
Taylor's notions of the inter-subjective nature of social reality. All
worth reading to begin to understand conversational reality. A simple
matrix of formal --- informal; and concrete --- abstract produces four
different types of language, conversation, knowledge, learning etc.

Anyone else thinking this way?

"DeGuerre, Don" <>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>