Learning & Change

Lasting Impressions

There are facilitators and facilitators. Not just the ones that have gone on a podium and facilitated a workshop, but the numerous other bosses, leaders, colleagues, partners and such else. When I look back and think of people who have left a mark on me and the teams that I was a part of, a couple of their attributes becomes apparent. First, lasting impressions have nothing to do with ‘striving to impress’. In fact, it can be counter-productive.  The second is this : It is futile to think of ‘control’ of a group. Especially so, using a position of a ‘boss’ or even worse, as a ‘facilitator’.

It is International Facilitation Week and here are some reflections on lasting impressions that a few global facilitators have left. I view both of these, ‘striving to impress’ and ‘seeking to control’ as memes that can interfere with success.

IAF #FacWeek

To try and engage in flamboyant (and ‘new’ ) action catches attention. The clamour for new ‘processes’ explains it well. But facilitation is more than ‘process’ and is very often diminished by a striving to impress. Some facilitators are natural on the stage. Others wear a new jacket. Dropping their voice, playing with intonation etc, cracking jokes to fill the silence, throwing in new tools etc. These by themselves aren’t bad. Just that, they stand out when someone who is not a natural at all these, attempts to weave it as part of a routine! The routine of trying to impress. Groups easily spot the incongruity between who the person is and the act the person is putting on.

To be comfortable with who I am as a person, with my biases and predispositions, is important for a facilitator. It makes a huge difference. Self-awareness and constant working on the self is perhaps one of the most underrated aspects of building a practice around facilitation. When we are comfortable with who we are, we don’t strive to ‘impress’! Inauthenticity is transparent.

The other meme that I frequently encounter is that of ‘control’.

Control for a facilitator has many inviting dimensions. Control over the participants is a non-starter in most cases. Unless you are talking of kids of yesteryears! With adults in the room, the best that can be done is to invite and create opportunities for them to voluntarily co-create and stay engaged.  Right from framing collective norms that help the group set the rules to working on arriving at cogent solutions.

Control over every minute of what will happen in a facilitated session is stuff that I have attempted early in my career. To disastrous results.   As a facilitator of a meeting or a program, of course, a facilitator needs to have a broad plan of action of how the day will flow. But it is just a broad plan. To be present to the needs of the group, and to stay flexible and ready in the moment to change course is important. Taking into account the energy of the group and its participants.

Facilitation at its very core transcends both of these memes. At its very core facilitation is less about the facilitator and more about the group. Less about the process that is ‘done to’ the group and more about what the group does with whatever that comes their way.

For a facilitator, there is great merit in standing away from the limelight and holding the space for the group to figure out a few solutions.  Some facilitators view that as an abdication. To me, that is hardly the case. In fact, that reinforces belief in the full potential of the group. In any case,a facilitative leader doesn’t see his position as a ‘throne’ to abdicate from. He or she sees his/her role as just another constituent member of a community., shifts the onus to the group, while the facilitator is also present. More channelising the conversation and ‘holding the space’ for it to emerge from the dark ridges of random argument to the possibilities the meaningful dialogue present.

Going past these two memes helps a facilitator to shift the onus to the group. The facilitator takes on another role. A higher order one. The one for channelising the conversation and ‘holding the space’ for new insights to emerge from the dark ridges of random conversation.  The possibilities that meaningful dialogue presents are tremendous.

The most effective facilitators that I have worked with blend into the group, yet stand apart. They listen to the conversations in the group and have little of solutions to offer to the topic of discussion. Yet, at the end of the conversation, people walk out with far more that mere solutions. They have new energy, meaning and purpose. For the energies from each one of them stands well woven into the solution.

Facilitation is a lot like sailing. The ace sailor navigates by the stars but adjusts the sails to catch the wind.  To act decisively and engage in reflecting on all the action.  To stay curious yet quiet. To seek people and conversation by listening with active intent. All these creates the space for success showing up at opportune moments.

The next time you are called in to facilitate, relax. Look at the field and catch the wind. The answers are blowing in the wind. Catch it. Its in fashion these days. Besides, it leaves lasting impressions!

 

Strategy. Alive and real!

The topic of building strategy that is alive and real, that is not an indulgent document that is a result of an annual ritual is a topic that stays on the minds of many. Be they entrepreneurs, social leaders, corporate executives and anyone with a set of objectives to move forward with. More on that in just a bit.

First, introducing Kimberly.

How do you introduce someone who has been making a difference to a growing community in a rather quiet, matter-of-fact manner? In a world where the decibel levels of raw marketing are perpetually set to ‘maximum’ examples of people who let their work do the talking is becoming rarer, Kimberly Bain and her work stand out. So when the opportunity of working closely with Kimberly Bain came up, we at the India Chapter of the International Association of Facilitators, we were delighted. To put it mildly!

Kimberly is an expert facilitator and works with both small and large groups ( 5 to 500) to help them reach consensus and achieve a common purpose amongst other things. She has a vast portfolio of experience, facilitating community groups, professional, volunteers, academics, hospitals, medical professionals, government departments and stakeholder groups. Her style is inclusive and works on building consensus. Something that our fractured times so need. Her innovative approach to strategic planning, expert conflict resolution techniques combined with her varied facilitation toolkit get her to work with varied groups across the world.

Her recent book the “The Reflective Practitioner : becoming a reflective ethical facilitator” made it to to the Amazon best sellers list is fast becoming a seminal resource for facilitators all around the world.

My conversations with her have been diverse, as she gets to do a bit of exploration of India.  Her thinking on strategy and her approach to conflict resolution perked my ear.  Read on. Am sure you will learn a thing or two.

Me : What are the components of strategy making and where do you see organisations / leaders struggle with?
Kimberly : Strategic planning is about focusing for success, this requires careful and insightful planning on how to develop the Strategy, who to involve, the processes to ensure best thinking is included and all options and opportunities are considered. Many thought leaders know that the Strategic Planning Process is almost more important that the resulting Plan itself. While most leaders understand this, they do not always have the background and information needed to design a planning process that meets their needs, the needs of the organization and the needs of the people who will be executing the Strategy. Utilizing the art and science of facilitation can provide the guidance needed to custom design a Strategic Plan that is based on collaboration to produce sustainable outcomes, therefore building the buy-in needed within the organization to move employees from thinking to action and from paper to implementation.

Me : How does facilitative style of leading people augment a business leader’s skillset? What must a leader do to bolster that?
Kimberly : In order to develop and utilize an effective facilitative leadership style, leaders need to understand behavioural analysis, group decision-making processes, individual communications styles and conflict handling styles. In order to bolster individual facilitative leadership we need to learn how to make the job of those who we lead “easier”, by facilitating their work, their relationships and expand their ability to innovate.

Strategy - Alive and RealMe :  A degree of conflict is inherently needed for progress and growth. Now is this true, from your experience? How do leaders get to foster this?
Kimberly : That depends how you define “conflict”. Creating an environment where individuals can voice and explore different opinions, alternative points of view and unconventional thinking does help groups and organizations grow and progress. But “conflict” often is a result of poor communication, negative assumptions of intent and lack of trust.

Me:  Inclusion (or the lack of it) can break the best of strategy. In a world where young people across the world want to participate in the decision making process and want to have their voice heard, what is the next frontier of strategy making?
Kimberly : Absolutely, engagement and inclusion are a central theme for effective strategic planning exercises. Not only is this necessary for social enterprises and community-based strategic planning, but it is just as important for profit-based organizations to include staff, shareholders, stakeholders, partners and customers in their Strategic Planning. This ensures all views are considered, all options are explored, and most importantly, champions and cheerleaders are created throughout the organization, making implementation smoother and more effective. When people feel like they have been involved in the decision, they will not only support it, but they will advocate for it!

Me :  Could you share an experience in helping a team with making of a strategy that has stayed with you.
Kimberly : I worked with a Government Agency in Canada. This was a new Agency that was created to help coordinate Cancer Control efforts across Canada. The Agency had no actual authority over health departments across the country, so they needed to develop a Strategy that would position them as the hosting agency convening crucial conversations to help coordinate effort and increase impact. Canada has 13 different provincial health departments and I assisted the Agency to design a Strategic Planning process that brought together each province, the various national and provincial cancer advocacy groups, agencies and thought-leading clinicians. The process took 9 months and was extremely successful. The 5 year resulting Strategic Plan was so effective that the Agency received a second 5 year mandate and is considered the main reason that cancer mortality rates have decreased across the country!

Kimberly is leading a two day session on Strategy Alive in Mumbai on the 26th, 27th of August. An opportunity for business leaders and facilitators to come together and explore. More details and FAQs are there on the Facebook events page as well. Dive in folks. It will be a fantastic investment of your time.

For those readers in Bengaluru, Kimberly will be leading a half day session on the Tao of Facilitation. The event page is here.

Future gazing

The few days spent in Washington DC attending the annual conference of the World Future Society was quite an experience. ( Detailed agenda and such else is here ).  I had curated a collection of tweets from the conference and was published by team Founding Fuel earlier.

The future has been a topic of interest for a long while and the new ideas and conversations with several other futurists has only deepened it even further. Our future emerges at a faster clip that we dont often get to see the resultant changes that envelope us. How will our lives change with all the technology around? Will we live longer? Will we be happier? What would we drive around in? How will we learn? What will be life like in the age of our kids? How do we prepare them for that future? And of course, how will the future of work shape up? These and more questions abounded when I went in.

I intend publishing a few more blogposts over the next few weeks and share some ideas, learning and experiences. As always, I seek your responses, comments and ideas.

For now, here is what got published at Founding Fuel earlier.

What does a coach really do?

The Indian cricket team’s dressing room sports a new head coach: Anil Kumble. The Indian head coach’s job is a prized one. Evidenced, if not by the frenetic minute-by-minute media attention, then by the sheer number of applicants for the top job: 57!

The Kumble coaching appointment saga took me back 10 years. It was 2006-07. John Buchanan was the coach of the Australian cricket team. The undisputed champions then, the team had earned a fearful reputation of clinically decimating opponents. Buchanan was a poster boy of sorts and I followed all what he spoke and wrote, and read all I could about his unconventional methods and the routines that he put the Australian cricket team through. It was another matter though that the team itself was star-studded: Shane Warne, the Waugh brothers, Ricky Ponting, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden among others.

It was a random search fuelled by a liking for cricket, a passion for (and a job in) the people development domain and being a complete sucker for stories of “transformation” and success.  Buchanan and his boys kept reinforcing the stories that the media played out with success stamps from the cricket field. It was fascinating enough for me to decide that it was a success story that I had to get to the bottom of.

I remember reading and talking to other enthusiasts about his unconventional methodologies from pilates to public speaking. From prescribing Duncan Fletcher’s Ashes Regained as a mandatory read to dipping into Sun Tzu’s The Art of War for evolving the strategy he called “Everest”. And of course, the incisive deployment of data and analytics for team strategy. It was fascinating to say the least.

This is an extract from a piece that I wrote for Founding Fuel. Read the full piece here. 

The piece was published on 04 th July, 2016 and appeared in the Mint on the 5th July 16 and sported the above image along with the piece. 

 

 

 

Singularity University India Summit – Feb 2016

There is one aspect of Singularity University that has been on my mind for a while now. The very idea of it!

It is an idea that perhaps is ahead of its time. Maybe not, some would argue. For it is right here indeed. Perhaps it is an idea that is knocking on the high gates of the future, helping reimagine what lies ahead. Treating what we know with respect but not deference, in the quest for the seeking out a future that is beyond the grasp of linear minds.

So when Singularity University’s India Summit was happening here, and an opportunity to attend it presented thanks to Blogadda.com, I made it there. The India Summit happened in partnership with INK Talks and Deloitte.

Here is a summary of tweets. You will get to understand the summit, and hopefully will dig in a bit more about the idea of it all. In any case, I will write in more. I promise.

Mumbai, 26th/27th Feb 2016

Mumbai, 26th/27th Feb 2016

https://storify.com/kavismail/getting-started

 

 

One of a kind

Facilitation. Now, that’s a much abused word. There was a time when anybody with a PowerPoint deck, platform and a set of participants came to think of themselves as great trainers. Gradually, as ‘training’ in itself became less ‘cool’ and perhaps as a need to distinguish themselves from others who had gotten on to the ‘training’ bandwagon, it became fashionable to call oneself as a ‘Facilitator’. So much so, in several circles, ‘training’ and ‘facilitation’ are interchangeably, and without the slightest of pauses!

That topic for another day.

 

meaning

 

It was in 2011 that I got to experience deeper insights into what facilitation is. Or can be. I recall, very vividly, how a bunch of committed people from Japan demonstrated their response in mobilising public support and action, after the Fukashima nuclear disaster. It was mind blowing, to say the least. At one level, it was facilitation skills at play. But at another level, it helped me see a coming together of people with passion, with a singular objective of wanting to make a difference to a population. There was no commerce. No forking of brands in the name of CSR. It was just a committed bunch of people wanting to make a difference and do their bit. It was deeply humbling.

Since then, I have listened to stories and understood designs about how Facilitation helped brokered peace between countries or between warring factions of an apartment complex to bringing change within corporate contexts.

‘Facilitation’, I realised, was more dynamic and had potency to affect larger communities and conversations. Far beyond corporate walls and narrow problems. It was action. Inclusion. Participation. Mutuality. And a respect for one another. The feeling that we are all in this together. There was no pedestal to stand on and ‘address’ the group. I was hooked to the International Association of Facilitators. It occurred to me that to be able to stand before a group of people (sometimes in the 100s) and getting them to do their work, helping them work through their dilemmas is as raw as it can get. And more importantly having fun in the process.

After playing with facilitation in different settings since then (here is a post from last year), I am more than convinced that if it is one skill that community leaders, entrepreneurs, development workers, business leaders, leave alone HR practitioners, need to learn really well, it is facilitation. There is a ton of material available about what it is and what more you could do with this.. The International Association of Facilitators is leading the charge worldwide.

This week, I am looking forward to hearing many more stories of facilitation and sharing a few of mine too. The Asia Conference of the IAF is happening in Mumbai on the 21st and 22nd of August. Check out the website. With facilitators from around the world coming in, this will be one heck of a carnival of learning and process design. If you havent registered yet, I am told there are a few seats left. Do come in. Would be an experience to remember. Do follow the hashtag #IAFAsia15

IAF Conferences are quite unlike any other conference. They are intimate participative experiences that draw the best out of people in a fun filled effortless way. Riding on a feeling of togetherness and community. Plus there is a committed bunch of people working relentlessly to help the community move forward.

I am really looking forward to this.

‘U’ turns

“The boss isn’t competent”.

“The job isn’t meaningful”.

“Colleagues / partnerships are insensitive”.

“My health is going downhill and I don’t have the time to work on it”.

“People resort to unfair means to get ahead and I don’t want to do the same”.

“I cant get to work on my passions. The turkdom of daily work is killing my soul”

One of these is bound to come up in conversations beyond that go beyond a brief while. Once the pleasantries are done and the weather is beaten to death so much, that anything said beyond that would get the weatherman come after with an employment letter.

I don the hat of a coach, at times.  Most other times, just being a friend and listening to people, which in any case is a key aspect of being a coach.

The ‘sadness’ that engulfs the conversation is only eclipsed by the seeming helplessness of the situation. “But what can I do? I have a home loan and kids need to go to school” are refrains. Many speak of wanting to throw it all away and pursue their passions. The room lights up by their frissons when they describe these. Darkness returns as they talk of their immediate circumstances.

Sitting there, I don’t do much. For there is nothing for me to do except listen. Only pausing to ask a question here or one there. Hoping it can be a flare in a new moon night. Perhaps showing us a patch that can become a pathway. A clearing that can lead to a path. Whatever.

I have never ceased to be amazed at the depth of what resides in each conversation and in every person. Every time I come back convinced that the world will be a better place if we can sit down and talk to each other. Listening without an agenda.

The other thing that I have learnt to trust in, and am always proven right is this : people have it in them to be better off with their lives. Sometimes all I have to do is to help them become present to the fact that their choices make the difference. Choices that they become aware of when they speak their hearts out. When they are in the flow.

The moment, choices and consequences are very clear to people, new possibilities emerge.  People begin taking the You Turn. First in their minds and then if you help them stick with it, in reality as well.

You don’t need to do much.  Ask a few questions. Listen with all you have got. Perhaps am making it sound a tad easier than it is.

Here is an invitation. Perhaps its a challenge. Can you sit back and listen to one person this week?  It could be your driver. Perhaps the boss. Maybe its a peer in another organisation. Or even your kids. Listening without agenda. Just one person.

It may seem like an exercise in waste. You have no idea what it does to the other person. I didn’t too, for a long while. And then, I experienced an ace coach help people take ‘U’ turns. It gave me a new lens and I have been working on my ears.

Try.

Small problems with big data!

Conversations on Twitter have a unique ability to set off reflection and propel further conversation and thought. This invariably builds and shapes our collective ecosystem of sorts.  Especially so, when the conversation is between people who you watched from a distance, making a difference! 🙂

This post is a thought assortment, after spotting a conversation thread on Twitter.

It went like this.

(more…)

Wheels of Change!

Its a bright, brilliant Sunday. My nephew, who is all of seven years, is up and about. As I slip on the running shoes, he wants to smell the outdoors with me. ‘Lets walk’. He says. It isn’t often that such privileges nudge me. I agree in a flash

His seven year old legs are growing stronger. I notice. His limbs are slim. His hair in one irreverent lock that is bouncy and chirpy. Just like him. ‘How long are we going to walk?’, he asks, a few steps into our walk. As our incessant chatter steals a march over the energy expended on the walk.

Soon, I realise, like all of us he too has several windows to the world. His school. His friends and of course, his dad’s tablet.

Today, he paints a ‘I am a super hero’ picture to me. As you can imagine, I am remarkably pleased. Its been ages since anyone has tried to impress me. I let him know how impressed I was. We walk another fifty meters and I think he is slowing down.

‘Are you tired?’, I ask.

‘No’. He says. With the same singular chirpiness. ‘It is now 99’ he adds. My brain scrambles to assemble some sleepy resources to figure what the ’99’ is all about. After a bit of silence, I ask him, ‘err..but what is this 99?’

There are points in time, when kids lose all their respect in an adult’s prowess. The taller the pedestal they put the adult on, the harder the adult falls. When that moment comes, its not a pleasant feeling. This was that moment, when the push from the pedestal happened. He stopped walking. Put his hands on his hips. An expression that left something like ‘You didn’t know this….?’, largely unnecessary. He merely says, ‘My battery’. (Pronounced BAH-TTERY. With suitable emphasis for effect). “My body battery, when we started out from home it was 100. Now it is 99′.

Of course the ‘battery draining’ and ‘recharging’ have established themselves as common everyday living and lingua that are well woven into modern day language. But this quantified expression from this 7 year old, hands me a knock out punch.

We carry on with our walk. Speaking of other things. He with some of his questions and me with mine. The words he uses reveal the depth of his questions and the rich texture of his worlds . We speak of his sports day and the medals that his track running got him. The super hero in him emerges. Again. ‘I beat them all’. ‘By a lot of distance’. He says.

‘A lot of distance?’ I ask. Sensing an opportunity for a lesson in English grammar.

‘Yes. yes.’ He says. Vehemently. With a flourish, he adds, ‘They haven’t upgraded their bodies’, he says. I smile. Now that is profound, I think. I drop the idea of English grammar. I pursue this ‘upgrade’ line of thought. Having lost all of my respect on the battery front, I can afford to play dumb.

‘What does that mean?’, I ask. ‘Upgraded their bodies’?

In a seamless flow, he begins. “They are not becoming stronger, faster. And they don’t come upto me and say, ‘ I will beat you in the race’ ” That is what is ‘updgrade‘ is” he says. This is getting profound!

Our talk meanders on a straight road. Gradually the topic drifts to ‘what is the one most interesting thing that you can spend hours on end doing?’

‘I like cars’. He says. Almost impatient to allow me to complete my sentence. I too was greatly fascinated by cars in days of carefree boyhood. Perhaps it runs in the family, I think. I tentatively ask him, ‘Which cars?’ thinking that I would hear the the likes of BMW or an Audi!

He takes off.

“There are 183 different types”. He then rattles of a names that to me sound like random assemblages of vowels and consonants. Finally, resting on, “and sometimes, the ‘Dodge Viper.’ “

Dodge Viper

Thats the only car I am familiar with from his list. His dad had gifted a scaled down model to me many years ago. A model that sits on my desk to date. It was my dream car for a long while, until someone educated me on how many arms and legs I would have to give up to turn the wheels of something like that!

Today, I hold onto the Dodge Viper. And ask him, ‘Dodge Viper? But where have you seen the Dodge Viper?’

In ‘Asphalt 8’. He says. With a shrug of his shoulder. With a ‘I hope you know where that is’, look on his face. Hesitatingly adding, ‘I am sure you have seen it there’.

I am lost. I say, ‘Hmm’. Like an amateur boxer who is recuperating in his corner bleeding from three cuts that a friendly jab of a professional boxer caused.

Of course, ‘Asphalt 8’, ‘Need for speed Most Wanted’, are all video games. I am blissfully unaware of an entire ecosystem that is powering the world of my own nephew! He is unstoppable now. ‘There is Henessey Venom GT’ he says. And speaks about how fast it can go, how good looking that is and how expensive it is too. The prices he quotes are the prices of the video games. He seems confident.

Here is a guy who doesn’t like to sit in a real car, yet someone who prefers to play with them via a window. Me and brother were very different. We had to see them. I used to go to friends houses, because their neighbour had bought a new car. Touching the new car, just lying down and checking out the undersides and rushing to scarce books to read up more seemed so worth every passing second.

We have covered significant distance. 3-4 kilometers. I ask him, ‘Are you tired?’ It takes a while before he answers, ‘NOooo’.

The obvious and most common narrative that emerges from the previous generation talking to a younger generation, is often about how glorious the past was! And as a natural extension, how broken the present is. To see the present as a lament would be to view it through the lens of a time that is gone by.

The greater chance of living a fulfilled, productive, joyous life is to embrace the change and start off by speaking a different language. The onus is not on the newer generation to change. It is for the older generation to reach out and embrace the new. To make sense of the what is coming and to help the new flow well, learning from the mistakes of the old!

The world will belong to the new. In a short while! The first change perhaps is in how I think. Maybe language is a good point of synthesis. I ask my nephew, ‘Is the battery about 48?’ I ask.

Hmm. ‘Noooo. Its about 30′ He says. Ah. Thats a lesson learnt well. The next time, I wont ask him ‘Are you tired?’

The wheels of change. They keep spinning. If we need to get somewhere, we need to keep steering! We walk for a bit in silence. He drifting, perhaps, into his world of cars. I drifting into the world of change and how much more I have to! Bringing about substantial change within, is after all no walk in the park!

The lost art of fine conversations

Conversations after all the binding paste for several things. For a relationship to blossom. For a transaction to take place. History to be passed on. For societies to mature. For lessons to be learnt. Developing people and building a cultures Not to speak of building cultures in an organisation.Of course, The Cluetrain Manifesto took it to a different height altogether stating “Markets are conversations”. ( Incidentally, have you read the New Clues?)If we just hover around the topic of having good conversations, one on one, or even amongst a group of involved friends, how would it be? Think of a good chat you had with someone. Where you spoke and he or she spoke your hearts out?

Flowers

Wouldn’t it be nice? When did you last have such a conversation? How many times in the recent past have you had such involved conversations?If you have had such a conversation in the recent past and are prone to having such conversations often, then you can count yourself amongst a lucky minority in the world. For the world in itself is increasingly bereft of good conversations!It is a travesty isn’t it, when what makes societies and communities accorded lesser importance, in a world where everything is getting ‘smarter’? I have a premise : The power and the need for having deep conversations is seriously underrated.

Oftentimes we feel a vague sense of not connecting to family members, to teams we work in or organisations we converge at, there is a vague feeling of loss. A feeling that something is amiss. Not often, however, is this question pondered over : When was the last time I SPOKE to someone? I write ‘SPOKE’ in capitals, for it is not the same as having a dead ‘how is the weather’ or ‘we should strive for world peace’ conversation.

It could be five minutes or fifty minutes. Maybe five hours, where not much is spoken, and the presence speaks. What counts is how genuine is the interest shown in knowing more about the situation and the person. Its about revealing parts of oneself. Its being in the moment, with the other person.

a reciprocal dance of self-exposure through alternately questioning and telling based on curiosity and interest writes Edgar Schein in the Humble Inquiry. My post on the book is here. That is an eloquent call out for good conversations.

The trouble with an aspect like ‘conversation’ is that it appears very simple! It is indeed simple. So simple, that its importance is missed. Given the distractions that our everyday world offers and the preoccupation that several of us have with ourselves, it is not easy to have good conversations.

Yet, it is at the centre of our modern day existence! Where ‘inter-dependency’ is a necessity that doesn’t require any reinforcement. Good conversations provide us with the opportunity to move from being mechanistic to being truly alive. To deal with ‘colleagues’, ‘family’ or ‘team members’ or ‘boss’ much beyond the shallowness proffered by the literal meaning of the word. It means interacting with another live human being.

 Organisations offer multiple formal opportunities for good conversations. Yes, they carry different labels like ‘appraisals’ or ‘development’ or ‘coaching’. In essence they are conversations!I chanced upon this wonderful Harvard Business Review piece titled “Leadership is a conversation” . If you haven’t read it before, do take the time to read it. If you already have, do give it a read again. . (The same authors have another piece titled “Conversations can save companies“. The aspect making talk happen is a leadership responsibility. That stood out.). The piece by the authors is fantastic on many counts. Putting together a need for a communication model that is ‘intimate, interactive, inclusive and intentional’ is powerful. Those are in any case tenets that make a good conversation between two people. When you imagine conversation as the basic thread that makes the weave of a community, a society or an organisation, you realise that it needs to be accorded far more importance than what is accorded now.

I hope this reaches you. In case it does, we sure must talk about it!