Comments about Dialogue

Mary Margaret Palmer (
Thu, 15 Jun 1995 09:31:37 -0600

Here is what I received on the dialogue process from the trdev list, the
learning org list, and the newgroup. Enjoy MM

Host's Note: A brief notice about this compilation was published on the
Learning-org list as LO1660.

Thanks, Mary Margaret, for creating this summary!

-- Rick Karash,, host for learning-org

Date: Mon, 29 May 1995 14:26:08 -0400
Subject: Dialog

Mary, there was quite a good article several years ago in the Utne
Reader....dont have it anymore, but you could probably find it in the
periodical guide. I believe, but am not sure, that Bohm's work was a key
piece of the discussion.

Lemme know what you find, I'd be interested in it. I made some notes years
ago on this and its relevance to Senge's team learning concepts-have been
thinking about reviving them as a process.

Tim Smith
Wheelwright Associates
Date: Mon, 29 May 1995 08:55:43 -0700 (PDT)
From: Richard Scott <>
Subject: Dialogue Process
MIME-Version: 1.0

My company has been using the dialogoue process in a leadership training
for a major telecommunications company for the past two years with
execellent results.

The training is a four day program of which one day is devoted to what we
refer to as the dialogue/discussion process in the context of real time
issues facing the company and the training participants. We find a good
mixture of experiential problem-solving activities, real time issues, and
dialogue/discussion processes make for a very successful training.

I'd be happy to discuss this with you further if you desire.

Richard Scott
Paragon Consulting
219 Archer Dr.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Tel (408)426-2721
Fax (408)459-6622
Date: Sat, 27 May 1995 10:15:44 -0500 (CDT)
From: Dutch Driver <>
Subject: Re: Wanted: info on Dialogue Process
MIME-Version: 1.0

In article <> you took the
time to write:

}I am looking for information on a process for creating conversation called
}the Dialogue Process as it was developed by David Bohm. The information
}can be in any form including

}titles of reference materials (books and articles)
}accounts of those who employee it
}names of trainings/trainers in it
}pointers to other internet sources where I might post this request

}Please send responses to me at

}Thanks, MM

| AUTHOR: Bohm, David.
| TITLE: On dialogue /
| PLACE: Ojai, CA :
| PUBLISHER: David Bohm Seminars,
| YEAR: 1990
| PUB TYPE: Book
| FORMAT: 41 p. ; 22 cm.
| NOTES: "...edited from the transcription of a meeting...November 6,
| 1989, in Ojai, California, following a weekend seminar given by
| Professor Bohm. Additional material on dialogue has been taken
| from other of Dr. Bohm's seminars. The final manuscript was
| edited by Dr. Bohm."
| "Transcription and editing: Phildea Fleming, James Brodsky."
| SUBJECT: Dialogue analysis.
| Dialogue.

All I could find on FirstSearch.

Great Optimism,

>Return-Path: <>
>X-UIDL: 801878885.000
>Date: 30 May 95 20:04:20 EDT
>From: Orbis <>
>To: Mary Margaret Palmer <fearless@Lanl.GOV>
>Subject: Dialogue
>Here is a good article:
>Taking flight: Dialogue, collective thinking, and
> organizational learning
> Authors: Isaacs, William N
> Journal: Organizational Dynamics (ORD) ISSN: 0090-2616
> Vol: 22 Iss: 2 Date: Autumn 1993 p: 24-39
>Abstract: Experience with the discipline of dialogue suggests that there
>is a new horizon opening up for the field of management and organizational
>learning. Dialogue can be initially defined as a sustained collective
>inquiry into the processes, assumptions, and certainties that compose
>everyday experience. Dialogue is an advance on double-loop learning
>processes and represents triple-loop learning. This field suggests a new
>range of skills for managers that involve learning how to set up
>or fields in which learning can take place. This discipline stresses the
>power of collective observation of patterns of collective thought that
>typically speed by people or influence their behavior without them noticing.
>Dialogue is an emerging and potentially powerful mode of inquiry and
>collective learning for teams. It balances more structured problem-solving
>approaches with the exploration of fundamental habits of attention and
>assumption behind traditional problems of thinking.
>Also, there are dialogue references in "The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook,"
>(Currency Doubleday) and "Mr. Learning Organization," Fortune 10/17/94.
>A consulting org. that trains folks in dialogue is:
>Action Design in Newton Mass.
>The folks there are all "disciples" of Chris Argyris, whose writing covers
>dialogue-type stuff, but he does not use that name.
>Peter Smith,
>Managing Partner,
>Orbis Learning Corporation
From: Lansing Bicknell <bicknell>
Subject: Re: Wanted: info on Dialogue Process
Date: 30 May 1995 18:46:55 GMT
Organization: Zilker Internet Park, Inc.
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I particpated in the begining's of the Dialogue project via MIT back in '91-92.
I believe the Dialogue Project has become it's own entity, focusing on
developing and extending Bohm's original model of dialogue. I am sure Pegasus
communications can put you in touch with the Dialogue Project directly.
However, another good source book to read by David Bohm and Mark Edwards is
called "Changing Consciousness: Exploring the Hidden Source of Social,
Political and Environmental Crises Facing our Wrorld", Harper Collins, San
Francisco, 1991. This book is a dialogue between Bohm and Edwards (a social
photographer whose work is part of the book) about the nature of thought and
the role fragmented thinking has in creating the world we live in today. The
last chapter is especially powerful. Another article that's good is "The
Emergence of Learning Communities", by Stephanie Spear from The Systems
Thinker, Pegasus Communications, Vol. 4, No. 5, 1993. You Can reach Pegasus at
617-576-1231. This is article that points to the role dialogue can have in the
process of creating or building community (Community a la M. Scott Peck's "The
Different Drum: Community Making and Peace"). I have some more things to say
from my experience of working with the Dialogue project a few years ago and how
I've integrated that experience into my practice as a facilitator and a
consultant. I'd be happy to share this with anyone who is interested directly
via e-mail or you can call me at 512-918-8000.
>Return-Path: <>
>X-UIDL: 801875103.000
>Date: Tue, 30 May 1995 18:46:20 -0400
>To: fearless@Lanl.GOV
>Subject: Dialogue references
>To Mary Margaret Palmer-
>I spotted your request for info on Dialogue and thought I'd pass along a list
>of references put together by one of my friends and former associate, Richard
>Burg. Richard sent this list to the LO List a few months ago, and it's a good
>one for materials on Dialogue by Bohm. (He may have sent you this list as
>well if he caught your message!)
>Richard describes Bohmian dialogue briefly as "non-contingent" on a subject
>or agenda. The dialogue practiced by Bill Isaacs and associates in The
>Dialogue Project at MIT and his company, Dialogos, is a slightly different
>take--we think of it as "strategic dialogue," where there is a more specific
>arena for the conversation (a topic or issue of business concern) and the
>group learns techniques for building trust, allowing open expression, and
>making inquiries to explore each others' thinking and assumptions. We use
>many of the techniques described by Chris Argyris (the Fifth Discipline
>Fieldbook introduces them pretty well).
>A good set of articles on OL and dialogue were presented in the Winter 1993
>issue of Organizational Dynamics (a quarterly from the American Mgmt Assoc.),
>with ones by Bill Isaacs and Edgar Schein on dialogue, and an excellent
>article on community by Peter Senge and Fred Kofman. For more on Argyris, see
>his Harvard Business Review articles from July/Aug 1994 and May/June 1991.
>As for trainers in dialogue, Dialogos offers several courses on dialogue for
>various audiences. The "Foundations for Dialogue" and "Practitioner
>Development Program" are delivered on a public basis or to private groups in
>companies. Dialogos has worked with numerous corporate, educational, and
>government organizations to develop the learning and structures for on-going
>dialogue. Let me know if you would like some further information, or you may
>contact Dialogos' headquarters at 617/576-7986, P.O.Box 1149, Cambridge, MA
>Best regards and good reading!
>Diane Weston, Fremont, CA DMWeston@AOL.COM
> ______________________
>>From Richard Burg, Meridian Group, Berkeley, CA:
>As I understand the evolution, both Bill Isaacs and Peter Senge were both
>inspired to create a dialogue practise in support of the Learning
>Organization through their experience with David Bohm. I have an online
>copy of "Dialogue: A Proposal" by David Bohm, Donald Factor, and Peter
>Garrett. I transcribed this from paper. If you are interested in it,
>please e-mail me directly. I will ask about permission to distribute it
>Art Kleiner referenced the booklet _On Dialogue_. It was published in
>Ojai, California by David Bohm Seminars, P.O. Box 1452, 93023. Routledge,
>a publisher in NY, is planning to republish it, with additional material,
>including an extenive 'map' to the history of David's investigations that
>led to Dialogue. Bohm's work with Dialogue was in a form that is sometimes
>referred to as "non-contingent" - he saw the process as one convened
>without a purpose, beyond examining "thought" arising in a group of 20 to
>40 people.
>A series of talks which David gave in Ojai has been transcribed and
>published by Routledge as _Thought as a System_. It is available in
>bookstores in the UK and the US now.
> [Host's Note: ISBN 0-415-11980 hbk, ISBN 0-415-11030 paperbk]
>The use of Dialogue in organizations is a variation and departure from
>Bohm's intention. Bohm sought to challenge the epistemology of our
>relationship to the world. His suggestion was that the 'solutions' to
>problems in the world are as much artifacts of the source of the
>'problems', as the 'problems' themselves. Until we can stop and look at
>thought, we can not halt the ongoing introduction of actions which failed
>to see the whole. His proposal draws heavily, but indirectly, on his work
>as a quantum physicist, the work of an English psychoanalyst, Patrick
>deMare, author of _Koinonia_ and a long and deep relationship with the
>educator, J. Krishnamurti.
>I have attached a casual bibliography of references on Dialogue prepared
>for a 1993 National OD Network Pre-conference Workshop. A group which has
>been engaged in the experiment proposed by Bohm for nearly five years
>invited conferees to join them in a weekend of dialogue. And A. Kleiner
>mentioned that the Fieldbook has material on Dialogue.
>A Casual Bibliography
>Referencing David Bohm and Dialogue
>_Wholeness and the Implicate Order_, David Bohm, New York: Arc Paperbacks,
>_Unfolding Meaning: A Weekend of Dialogue with David Bohm_, David Bohm,
>New York: Arc Paperbacks, 1987.
>_The Ending of Time_, David Bohm and J. Krishnamurti, San Francisco:
>Harper and Row, 1985.
>_Science, Order, and Creativity_, David Bohm and F. David Peat, New York:
>Bantam, 1987.
>_Changing Consciousness_, David Bohm and Mark Edwards, San Franscisco:
>HarperSanFrancisco, 1991.
>_On Dialogue_, David Bohm, from David Bohm Seminars, P.O. Box 1452, Ojai,
>CA 93023.
>_The Fifth Discipline_, Peter Senge, New York: Doubleday, 1990.
>_Fifth Generation Management_, Charles M. Savage, Maynard, MA: Digital
>Press, 1990.
>_Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest_, Peter Block, San
>Francisco: Barrett-Koehler, 1993.
>_Koinonia: From Hate, through Dialogue, to Culture in the Large Group_,
>Patrick de Mare', New York: Karnac Books, 1991.
>"Dialogue: The Power of Collective Thinking", William Isaac, The System
>Thinker, V.4, No.3, Cambridge: Pegasus Communications, 1993.
From: Tony Page <>
Organization: Page Consulting
Mime-Version: 1.0
Subject: Re: Wanted: info on Dialogue Process

I am also interested in dialogue. I have in front of me a booklet
entitled "On Dialogue - David Bohm". It is an edited transcript of a
meeting in Ojai California in 1989 follwing a weekend seminar by David
Bohm. Available from Pegasus, Cambridge, MA, phone 617-576-1231, fax

The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook by Peter Senge, 1994 et al ISBN
1-85788-060-9 has a whole section entitled Designing a Dialogue session.
It draws information from the Dialogue project run by Bill Isaacs at the
Center for Organisational Learning at MIT.

I have recently been a participant in a dialogue group cmprised of HR/OD
types people in a pharmaceutical company. It is early days but I would
be happy to share how it develops at time passes.

Hope this is useful. This is my first posting to this (or any) group. I
am interested to continue being involved. I am intereswted in any other
Internet sites and Newsgroups that are useful to
facilitators/independent management consultant types like me.

Please let me know if you get this OK.
From: NAME: Scott L. Lewis
FUNC: Engineering Polymers
TEL: (302) 733-8163 <LEWISSL AT A1 AT CSOC>


Bohm's Dialogue Process is discussed extensively in Peter
Senghe's book, _The Fifth Discipline_. The book also has a lot
of references into David Bohm's works. I would also look at _The
Fifth Discipline Field Book_. I've only perused that one, but
from the looks of it, it amplifies each topic covered in _The
Fifth Discipline_.

Return-Path: <>
X-UIDL: 802033236.000
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 1995 14:56:30 -0400
To: fearless@Lanl.GOV
Subject: Info on Dialogue

<I am looking for information on a process for creating conversation called
the Dialogue Process as it was developed by David Bohm. The information
can be in any form...>

I've worked with various dialogue processes for several years.
I find it is necessary to "customize" the dialogue process depending on the
group and the purpose. It is useful to help people recognize the essential
difference between discussion (same root word as percussion and concussion)
and a truly free flow of ideas to help a group discover new meaning. has developed some practical guidelines recently for a
business client and she may be willing to share if you e-mail a request.

In my experience, it is necessary to introduce dialogue in different ways and
emphasize different aspects of the process depending on the group you are
working with. With my business clients, the process needs to be streamlined
and introduced in a way that emphasizes the practical applications. With my
research astrophysicists, the niceties of the process are more relevant,
however it is necessary to include some articulate non-scientists in order to
help people think "out of the box" enough to allow for possible new meanings
to emerge.
With government folks it is often necessary to adapt the process to help move
people off rhetorical ground.

As with most processes, success depends, in my opinion, on adaptation to the
context. I might be able to be more helpful if I knew your intended purpose.

New Paradigms for Learning ( based in Berkeley, CA has
done quite of bit of this kind of work also. Dr. Barbara Pennington there may
be willing to offer some references and suggestions.

Hope this helps,
Myan Baker
Human Development Associates, Bolinas, CA.
>From: "Robert Levi" <>
>Subject: Info on Dialogue Process
>To: fearless@Lanl.GOV
>Cc: "Learning Organizations maillist" <>
>In response to Mary Margaret Palmer's request for information on the
>Dialogue Process, I offer the following brief summary of Dialogue. I use
>this in gatherings with folks who don't know a lot about the process:
>Also, see a paper I posted, edited by Richard Burg (are you out there,
>Richard?) from a talk given by Bohm, et al, on his version of Dialogue.

NOTE: This paper is NOT included in this compilation as it is VERY LONG
and I have already posted it once to the newsgroup. If you want a copy of
it please email me at Thanks MM

>An intentional and sustained inquiry into the assumptions, certainties, and
>processes that structure common experience and inform collective action.
>Dialogue begins with the premise that there is an implicate undivided
>wholeness that can be made explicate. It consists of a flow of meaning that
>requires a shared "field" of experience and attention.
>Dialogue Requires Shifts From:
> Knower to Learner
> Competence to Vulnerability
> Arrogance to Humility
> Observer to Participant
>Qualities of Dialogue:
>Suspension involves putting an idea, feeling, or belief into the middle, and
>taking one's hand off of it, so what gets put in the middle becomes the
>property of the whole. You, as well as the group, can look at what's there
>from many different angles. The investment is withdrawn and up for inquiry.
>The spirit of inquiry involves an open space in which to ask questions about
>where a particular assertion, belief, or idea came from. Much of what arises
>in a conversation is based on assumptions we make, and there is often a need
>to question the data that led us to think a certain way. In a dialogue, a
>person who is making broad generalizations can be subject to inquiry. How
>did you get there? Can you give me the data that supports your conclusions?
>There is a greater possibility for deeper understanding with the inquiry
>process. Inquiry must be balanced with advocacy if there is to be Dialogue.
>Generative listening
>Generative listening is essential in dialogue, and involves letting go of
>"building my case" when someone is speaking from a different point of view.
>It involves "listening for understanding," rather than preparing to convince
>the other person that they are wrong.
>Holding tension of opposites
>Holding a space that has polarity and opposites is also an essential quality
>of dialogue that addresses the wide variation in views usually present in a
>diverse group. There is a need to have a container built that respects the
>differences and enjoys and cultivates the energies between the diverse
>Ladder of Inference
> /----/ I take ACTIONS based on my beliefs.
> /----/ I adopt BELIEFS about the world. --------------------| My BELIEFS
> /----/ I draw CONCLUSIONS. | affect the
> /----/ I make ASSUMPTIONS based on the meanings I added. | DATA that I
> /----/ I add MEANINGS (cultural and personal). | select.
> /----/ I select "DATA" from what I observe. <---------------|
>/----/ All the information in the world
>We use this tool a lot to examine beliefs that are advocated by folks. If
>you take the time to "walk" down the ladder of inference, there is a lot of
>learning to be had, especially around the "MEANINGS" rung. Also, the
>"reflexive loop" is another big learning piece...that our beliefs affect the
>data we select (usually to reinforce our beliefs.) This has large
>implications on the scientific method.
>(Many thanks to Dr. William Isaacs for his excellent research into the
>Dialogue process. His institute, Dialogos, puts on excellent trainings in
>Dialogue. Dialogos can be reached at 617-576-7986. Tell them you heard about
>them from Robert Levi on the Internet.)
>There is a lot more I could write about, but I think I've done enough
>"advocating". I look forward to any "inquiries" about the process.
From: (Bernard Girard)
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 1995 10:02:20 +0000
Subject: Re: Info on Dialogue Process LO1469

Replying to LO1443 --


In reading what you say about dialog, I thought : he is describing
introspection which is not exactly what one would call the best way for
fast interaction. Just listen to what you wrote :

>In most of my conversations I try to focus on my
>own presence, deep listening to the group, listening to myself and
>listening to the silence. I try to be aware of my own listening and how
>it might be impacting the conversation. I try to suspend my own
>judgements and make my reasoning explicit for others to explore.

Those interested in dialogue might read Martin Buber who published several
texts on this topic. He wrote in german. I know there was a french
traduction of these texts in the late fifties. There must have been an
english traduction.

Buber was a jewish philosopher, he lived his last years in Jerusalem.

Bernard Girard <>
From: "david.r.dobat" <>
Date: 30 May 95 19:13:11
Subject: Re: Info on Dialogue Process LO1443

Replying to LO1410 --

In your post you asked for reference materials on dialogue. The only one
I can think of off the top of my head is On Dialogue by David Bohm. I
think that this text is actually a transcribed and edited conversation
from a talk he gave on the subject.

In most of my conversations I try to carry the "spirit" of dialogue to the
table (or circle as the case may be). That is to say I try to focus on my
own presence, deep listening to the group, listening to myself and
listening to the silence. I try to be aware of my own listening and how
it might be impacting the conversation. I try to suspend my own
judgements and make my reasoning explicit for others to explore. All of
this is very hard to do. I would like to think that by being aware of
these things in conversation, the conversation itself is changed in some
subtle way. I would also like to think that this serves as an invitation
for others to become aware of their own listening, reasoning, etc.

Introducing dialogue and all of its concepts may be more confusing at
first. People are always curious about a conversation whose purpose is to
allow meaning to emerge from the group. Do we have time for that? What
does it look like? Do we have it down yet? These are some of the
questions I have received after introducing the concept (which may be a
sign that I can't introduce dialogue very effectively).

I would suggest that you try different things with different groups and
see which is more effective for you. I have found it helpful to carry
within me the spirit of dialogue and try to explain the concepts later.
In other words, try to model the behavior then after a few conversations
make it explicit. This also allows the space for others to give you
feedback on how "dialogue-like" your own conversations are.

I hope that this helps
- --
David R. Dobat
Date: Mon, 5 Jun 1995 09:41:15 -0400
Subject: dialogue

i do not have info regarding process you cited, and would appreciate an
e-mail with any info about it you might recieve from another.

i would share the "four criteria" of dialogue as outlined in Don Peppers and
Martha Rogers' book, __The One to One Future__ (Currency Doubleday, 1993.)
1. All parties to a dialogue must be able to participate in it.
2. All parties to a dialogue must want to participate in it.
3. Dialogues can be controlled by anyone in the exchange
4. Your dialogue with an individual customer will change your behavior toward
that single individual, and change that individual's behavior toward you.

hope you find this useful.
Date: Sat, 3 Jun 1995 14:36:48 -0400
Subject: Re: #1(2) learning-org-digest V1 #94

responding to your inquiry re: dialogue process. Major references worth
looking at in addition to Bohm's books are Peter Senge's Fifth Discipline and
Fifth Discipline Reader (both published by Doubleday), and Marvin Weisbor'd
Discovering Common Ground and Future Search (both published by
Berrett-Koehler). I also posted a message on this to the Learning Org List,
mentioning Patrick de Mare and Krishnamurti as Bohm's primary sources.

John VanDeusen