Starting Dialogue LO6005
Wed, 6 Mar 1996 15:48:00 -0500

Replying to: Intro -- Tuwenia Barnes LO5963

In a message dated 96-03-05 03:53:48 EST, you write:

>If your organization is not currently
>following the disciplines, how do you get people motivated to think about
>their personal vision? How do you get people to even start using dialogue?
>From the readings, I understand that these things cannot be forced on
>employees, but just how would one get started? Say for example, you're a
>manager or an executive and you want to turn your company into one that is
>focusing on team learning. What do you do first?

Tuwenia, you hit the nail on the head. The 20 million dollar question.
My own experience has been that this is a SLOW process, depending on the
level of trust in a group. Generally, we're working with a senior
management team, and looking for willingness to risk on a personal level.
To what degree are people willing to be open and honest about how they
feel, what they want, and what they fear? I think the consultant models
the behavior, and begins by using Chris Argyris-inquiry skills. One place
to begin is by looking at the interesting gap between "espoused beliefs"
and "theory in practice" among the senior managers. Using an assessment
tool I ask managers to rate themselves on their behaviors in typical
stressful group situations. They rate each other--and then we spend a few
hours giving and receiving feedback on the impact of those behaviors, and
I ask people to create learning contracts with each other. In this case,
I've worked with this group a year before getting to this point. We've
introduced Ladder of Inference as a tool that a large part of the
organization is familiar with now. Next month we'll be doing Right-Hand
and Left-Hand column exercises. One of the senior managers is still
reluctant to disclose openly among this group, and sometimes our work
seems like organizational therapy (dealing in the Personal Mastery
discipline.) Getting people to identify and manage their personal response
to systemic conflict differently is an exciting part of this work.

So Vision starts with individuals and I think Robert Fritz has a lot to
offer on the subject. (His book is referenced in the Fieldbook section on
Personal Vision). I believe Senior Managers have to be willing to share
their personal values, appreciate differences, define commonly shared
pieces, and then look at how to bring others into a shared vision. Takes
time and commitment.

Best wishes with your class--sounds interesting.

Molly Gibbs


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