Friday, December 21, 2007

A Squidoo lens focused on how to lead through conversation

This new Squidoo lens provides a look at my work and interest in a variety of areas where conversation is the foundation. I welcome conversations on any of these topics and welcome ideas where we might be able to collaborate together to change the world.

Conversational leadership: This is where most of my current work as a Leadership Development Manager is focused. I have a deep seated belief that conversation is at the core of relationships and performance improvement.

Sustainability: Social and ecological responsibility are a passion of mine. I will explore and provide a lens into some of the better work in this critical area of focus.

Conversation: I believe that conversation can change the world. I again will explore and provide a lens into some of the better work in this critical area of focus.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Possibilities: I see greatness in you

Can you imagine the healing in our world if only everyone in leadership saw possibilities in their team members rather than deficiencies? Can you imagine if we all said to our team members, "I see possibilities in you. I see greatness in you. I want to reach out and help you develop the greatness I see in you." Instead all to often we say to our team members, "You are not good enough. All I see in you are your inadequacies." I can hear a collective human cry, "Please someone see what possibilities I have and reach out to help me develop my greatness. I do have greatness in me, I am just not sure what it is or how to access it. Please reach out and help me." And quite honestly, this is the role of a conversational leader. How can you lead if you can not see greatness in others? I just do not see how that can be.

At the end of a three day leadership development course I teach within my organization, we play a video, "Leadership: an Art of Possibility" produced by Groh Productions. This is one of the most powerful videos that I have ever seen. We speak to possibilities throughout the workshop and this video drives home the message that if we were only to see possibilities in our team members, we could help transform their lives. If we can do that, we can help create healthy team member who will create healthy families and healthy homes for our children to grow up in. The possibilities are extraordinary.

I don't know about you, but I long for someone, anyone to tell me that they see greatness in me and possibilities that I do not yet see. Sometimes I feel that just because people see that I have my "act together" that I don't need a helping hand. Each of us can use a helping hand. A mentor to help us navigate the complex waters of the communities within which we work, play, and contribute. I can only imagine what it would feel like to have someone come to me and say, "I see possibilities in you. I see greatness in you. I would like to help you achieve that greatness."

So my plea to you is to reach out and start this conversation with those who count on you for support. Your friends, your family, you significant other, your children, your employees, your students, and your peers. I believe that you can change the world through the act of engaging in these simple conversations.

I wish you the best and keep up the conversations.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

New Squidoo Lens on Beauty and Technology

This new squidoo lens focuses on tools and resources that help bring beauty to your part of the online world. Not just for online communication designers in building websites, blogs, newsletters, wikis, & other online spaces, this will be a valuable asset to anyone with a social networking profile (FaceBook, LinkedIn, MySpace, etc.).

Amy not only is a wonderful online communication designer, she is the technology genius behind The World Cafe. Amy comes to her work with an intimate understanding of conversation and the power of community to change the world. I do not know of anyone else who has this unique perspective and is able to bring that to her clients. As I explore social networks and the role of learning conversations, I am struck that I know so little yet have come so far. I value Amy and her ability to help me grasp the extraordinary opportunities of building communities of practice bound together through conversation. Certainly check out Amy's work and if you are looking for a resource, engage her in a conversation and see what happens.

Continue the conversations.


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Friday, November 16, 2007

Pegasus Conference

I attended the Pegasus conference from Sunday October 4th through Wednesday October 7th. The conference title Amplifying Our Impact: Strategies for Unleashing the Power of Relationship was well defined. The speakers, the break out sessions and the tone of the conference fully honored and supported conversation as the foundation for change in our world. And over and over again, I gained perspective on how I could personally amplify my impact on our world. In particular, I found the partnership with The World Cafe and the Society for Organizational Learning to be very powerful. I had the opportunity to participate in meetings and sessions with both organizations and came away from the conference with renewed hope for our world. I also came away from the conference with new friends and partners, all focused on the work that I love.

There were about 1000 participants at the conference all focused on building communities that focus on learning, systems, and conversation. What an extraordinary experience. I could not have asked for more from a conference. Some of the personal highlights for me included Otto Scharmer, Peter Senge, Juanita Brown, David Isaacs, Nancy Margulies and her wonderful graphic work and then Van Jones who is proving that we can change the world through a focus on solutions rather than problems.

I have provided a link to The World Cafe Blog where Amy Lenzo of The World Cafe has done a wonderful job of capturing the tone and essence of the conference. I will not even try to replicate this fantastic work. I highly recommend that you go to this blog and not only review this post but sign up and participate if your love is around creating conversations that matter.

One of my personal insights was about the emerging field of work around conversational leadership, see my Conversational Leadership model that I talk to, a field that I am fully engaged in and focused on. I first defined this field of work in my paper on conversational leadership, Con versare: To Dance Together, in my last year of my masters program in late 2002. It was so gratifying to know that this field of study is begining to gain some recognition.

Pegasus has another conference scheduled for next year in Boston on November 17-19, titled Systems Thinking in Action, a conference I will surly attend.

I wish you the best and keep the conversations going.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

World as Café

I recently received a note to connect on my Zaadz network and the person who was connecting was asking about conducting a World Café process. His boss was concerned that this would just produce a complaint session. Having conducted World Café's in my work, I assured him that nothing could be further from the truth. The intimate conversations based on a question that really mattered would produce a highly meaningful session I told him. I encouraged him to review the World Café guide and move ahead with confidence.

As I had not been using the World Café process recently, I explored current posts on the process and found the David Isaacs blog called World as Café. I was thrilled to find the blog and be able to connect to the ongoing conversation about the World as a Café. The more that we can support this work the better. You can find the updated blog at

I wish you the best in your conversations.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Another conversation on a personal note

I just took my son down to register for classes at Southern Oregon University and participated in a day of introductions by the university. They did a wonderful job of helping the students get ready for their new experience and the parents understand how to support their students. I sure wish that I had had that introduction when I went to college. But not the topic.

During the parent program, a variety of speakers helped us understand what to expect over the next several years and allowed us to ask questions. This was very useful. Our last speaker was the VP of Finance for the university talking about financing the education and our rights and responsibilities as parents. He stressed over and over again that as parents we have few if any rights over what our student does with the financing of the education except for helping arrange for financing or provide financing. Our child or should I say adult is absolutely accountable for the management of his/her finance and everything else for that matter. After 18 years of helping and guiding, my son is truly out there doing this himself.

The message to me and the other parents was that we needed to sit down and have a conversation with our child to set the game and come to agreements on how financing was to be handled, how when and what communication looked like, how residual money would be handled, and everything else about this new phase of our child's life. I am now faced with sitting down and talking with my son about all of these topics and trying to set my expectations and offer my insights in such a way that he will listen. I have been fretting about this ever since we left the university yesterday. Should I also be talking with him about sex, drugs, and other life impacting issues? Probably so. This certainly will not be an easy conversation for me. Nor will it be for my son. Should be interesting.

My son tends to get all of his information from reading and is very well read. In our conversation I somehow need to have him embrace conversation as a means to connect and learn new knowledge and insights that probably will not be found in a book but only reveled through a heart to heart conversation. How many of our issues could we solve in this world if we simply sat down together and talked. It would be easy for me to just tell myself that he already knows all of this stuff but in so doing I would be doing him a disservice and not fulfilling my responsibilities as a mentor and guide for my son. So the conversation I will have. Hummm.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Conversation reduces the stress of moving

My family is just about to move to Redmond Oregon and after living apart from my family for almost three years, we are finally going to be together. But probably as many would agree, uprooting the family and moving is very stressful. Planning for the move and making the decisions about what stays and what goes and what we need to purchase is even more stressful.

My inclination is to simply say here is what we need to do and do it. As you might imagine, this simply does not work well. Finally my wife Hazel and I sat down and started to talk about all of the decisions we needed to make. We took our little girl out to see new furniture for her new room. We explored what to get rid of. As we sat down to talk, the stress of all of these issues came to the surface. We were tense and the conversation started in spits and spurts. A conversation did emerge and as we worked through all of these issues. We began to move into our normal pattern of give and take and had a wonderful conversation. At the furniture store, I had envisioned that we get our little girl a Loft Bunk Bed as we will have far less space in our new home. She was highly resistant particularly since she too is very stressed out over the loss of her home and many treasured furnishings. After letting her work her way through her concerns she ended up falling in love with the Loft Bunk Bed. It was a lesson in relaxing and letting a conversation emerge rather than try to force a decision too quickly.

For a high "D" person, this letting go takes quite an effort but the results are fantastic. Being in conversation is so much more meaningful and rewarding that a discussion. See etymology in my first post to see the difference. This weekend was an excellent reminder of the power of conversation. A conversation can not be rushed, it can not be controlled, and the outcome can not be dictated. One needs to be open to letting emerge what should emerge. I am again reminded that conversation is what binds together people in a living system and leads to order out of chaos. This is not always easy to see when one is in the middle of the chaos.

I wish you the best in your conversations.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

The role of conversation in change

As I have been moving into a new position in a new organization, I have been considering the role of conversation in creating positive partnerships. My role is leadership development and as I work with a team of 95 leaders, the frequency, tone, and content of the conversations that I have with my team creates the relationship that I have going forward. Needless to say, trust and rapport is the cornerstone of these relationships and trust and rapport will not happen without conversation.

I have noticed that it is very easy for both me and my internal customers to focus on tasks and forget that the power of leadership comes from being in conversation. Executing tasks is important but will not create a world class organization. So much of my work is involved in creating conversations around questions that drive performance improvement. The relationships that my leadership team have with their team members and the quality of their conversations determine the performance of their operating units. There is a direct relationship between the quality of conversations and the performance and sustainable of performance of the operating unit. Those in leadership who shy away from conversations struggle in performance where those who are in continuous conversation with their team members, have reduced attrition and higher performance.

So the notion that I am exploring is how to reinforce conversation as a leadership practice. How do we create the rewards, feedback loops, and reinforcement that will not only encourage conversation as a leadership practice, but insure that it is happening? My work in the near future will be focused on driving conversation into our culture with the intent to create sustainable performance improvement and substantially reduce attrition of our quality team members.