The BMI series in Dialogic OD, inspired by the original Addison-Wesley Series in OD, provides short, 100 page volumes written by experienced change leaders using Dialogic OD principles. Edited by Gervase Bushe and Bob Marshak, each narrowly focuses on one specific aspect of Dialogic OD practice and provides tested, practical models and processes, along with case examples to make the models come alive. Beginning in 2020, we expect to publish 2-4 new books each year.
We are always interested in new volumes for our series. If you think you might have a book for our series please contact one of the editors.
This book introduces a subtle but powerful dialogic OD method that coaches and consultants can use to help clients address limiting assumptions and create new possibilities. The phrase “generative meaning-making in action” captures the essence of the approach. You will learn how to identify and address out-of-awareness mindsets during everyday conversations, how to deeply listen for the implicit mindsets that influence meaning-making in individuals, groups and organizations, and how to intervene through transforming talk to challenge or change them.
The presentation draws on more than 40 years of experience consulting with organizations where the author developed the ideas and methods described in the book. Conceptual frameworks, how to’s, and extensive cases are presented throughout to illustrate the ideas and methods in practice.
The Preface provides readers with a brief history of the insights and experiences that led the author into the theory and practice of Dialogic OD and to the concepts and methods of Dialogic Process Consulting.
Chapter One: Introduction provides a broad sense of what “dialogic process consulting: generative meaning-making in action” means and some basic ideas and definitions. Three core premises about mindsets, language and change that set the foundation for the book are explained.
Chapter Two: Language and Generative Change provides a discussion of the theoretical background and five guiding concepts that inform and support the dialogic methods described in the book, including the three processes that help lead to dialogic generative change.
Chapter Three: Deep Listening, explains and provides examples of the concepts and methods associated with the important skill of dialogic deep listening. How to listen both literally and symbolically is emphasized.
Chapter Four: Transforming Talk introduces the important concept of transforming talk. While deep listening to a client(s) the consultant or coach has the opportunity to be intentional about influencing dialogic meaning-making through transformational talk. Five transforming talk processes are introduced and illustrated with case examples.
Chapter Five: In-the-Moment Dialogic Consulting and Coaching discusses how to put the ideas introduced in the book into action, not in preplanned ways, but in-the -moment during conversational interactions with clients. The chapter provides five basic guidelines for in-the-moment interactions and concludes with a detailed case illustration.
Chapter Six: Concluding Tips provides brief tips and insights from the author’s experience for working in the ways outlined in the book. The chapter ends by inviting readers to reflect on the metaphors and storylines that inform their coaching and consulting mndsets.
References lists the sources for the key ideas and citations presented in the book.
This short book introduces the Generative Change Model, a way to approach organizational change more aligned with today’s needs for an agile and engaged workforce than planned change methods. We follow the case of Consolidated Construction Materials Supply, 200 poorly engaged employees inside a large, traditional construction company. Organized into three fragmented units, this low-tech warehouse and distribution operation transformed into a highly engaged, collaborative, agile and fully digitized one in a little more than two years after the first phone call between the consultant and the Director. They accomplished this without a vision, without a plan, without training, any resistance to change, and only 1 external OD consultant. They did it through an emergent, generative change process.
The story follows the phases of the generative change model. Each chapter begins by describing what took place in the case, followed by a commentary on the theory and perspectives behind the OD consultant’s actions. The book provides the novice Dialogic OD consultant with a clear example, as well as providing experienced Dialogic OD consultants with some new ideas and a model that will help clients better understand the Dialogic OD approach to transformational change.
Introduction to the Generative Change Model
1. Identify the Adaptive Challenge
2. Reframe into a Possibility Focused Purpose Statement (Generative Image)
3. Engage Stakeholders in Generative Conversations
4. Launch Self-Initiated Probes and Learn as You Go
5. Scale Up and Embed Successful Probes
6. Conclusion: Some Non-Issues that Could Be Issues
When the future is uncertain and the past is contested, good hosting can bring hope and co-operation into the present.
Any Dialogic OD practice will bring people together for creative conversations, expanded horizons, mutual connection and committed action. The way these events are hosted can make all the difference. Mark McKergow offers an image of superb hosting as a mix of detailed planning and openness to whatever emerges, taking the lead when needed, with the intent of stepping back as quickly as possible so participants can lead themselves.
This is an important resource for anyone who wants to entice groups of disparate individuals into generative conversations that stimulate new ideas and prompt committed action. It builds connections between big ideas like complexity and emergence with the small practical details of preparing, inviting people and convening a workshop, engaging people on the day, building new possibilities and refining the next steps.
Dr. McKergow brings over a decade of research into the etiquette of hosting in different cultures and eras and combines it with three decades of practice in organizational development and change. The book offers a framework of six hosting roles to help navigate the inevitable ups and downs of working with large (and small) groups.
Written in an engaging and witty style, the principles of hosting are brought to life in a lively and detailed case example which shows the practical impact and importance of insightful and flexible hosting.
This hopeful, poignant, and deeply insightful book brings the wisdom of Dialogic OD and the heritage of Diagnostic OD into an expansive view of how to best support teams in a world of immense diversity and attention poverty. Bennett Bratt offers a new approach to team development that meets today’s teams where they live: in a complex world with intense demands and precious little time. This book challenges widely used approaches to team development that utilize data showing a gap between current and desirable team performance. Most methods presume some kind of evaluative comparison is helpful: comparison to other groups, comparison to large data sets, comparison to best practices, comparison to a theoretical ideal. Instead, Ben explains why a dialogic approach to the use of questionnaire data is better at helping teams author their own narrative of effectiveness, one they will own and live into. While showing how to make data useful, Bratt persuasively argues that comparison is at best, a distraction and at worst, debilitating.
The book illustrates how to bring the mindsets and tools of Dialogic OD to team coaching through an extended case example. Join a pair of OD practitioners, Ava and Orlando, as they learn about the unique facets of the client team and its VP leader Juliette. On the heels of recent significant changes, including a reorganization, the team and leader discover their unique path to greater effectiveness using Dialogic OD mindsets and tools customized in a team coaching setting.
Part exploration of the Dialogic OD mindset and part illustrative story, this book brings empathy not only to the impossibly difficult circumstances teams and their leaders all too often find themselves in, but also to the OD practitioners who enter into their dynamic world with their own narratives of what “good” means. Join them as they negotiate towards solutions with the greatest possible utility and take up the mindset and tools that bring Dialogic OD to life in the world of teams.
Part 1: Context and Concepts
Part 2: Dialogic Team Coaching in Action
Conclusion and Implications
From Physical Place to Virtual Space describes the insights and conclusions of a highly experienced Dialogic Organization Development practitioner bringing her skills to a new client, all online. From initial contact, designing and sequencing the interventions, to a series of online events for a large multi-divisional corporation, Gwen Stirling-Wilkie takes you through the differences that make a difference in doing Dialogic OD online.
The book is in two parts.
Part 1: Preparing The Virtual Space
The first part covers the changes we must make, and the new strategies and interventions available, to how we design dialogic change processes. Gwen provides new models, tools, and insights for designing transformative online events. She also explores the technical limitations and opportunities of using platforms like Zoom and MS Teams and provides advice for hosting online in topics like:
Part 2: Mastering Virtual Consulting
The second part of the book goes into detail on virtual consulting, covering topics like:
A virtual consulting case study:
The book concludes with a full description of a case of virtual consulting with a new client at the start of the pandemic, one that was not familiar with working through online platforms. The client wanted to embark on a cultural change process and create greater integration between five distinct businesses within the company and decided they could not wait for the pandemic to be over.
Detailing the reasoning behind design decisions and the results of various virtual events, we watch the emergence of new and novel groupings to explore a shared topic in ways they hadn’t before. New narratives traveled through the formal and informal networks within and between businesses. These included stories of people being invited to take part whose voices were not normally heard, opening up to the possibility of a different way of leading. The entire process generated new ways of working, new relationships, and new possibilities for future collaboration across the company, as well as a new image of leadership that was attractive and stimulated new actions. A collective experience of previously unimagined ways of thinking, creating, and acting together stimulated an explosion of innovation.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Part One: Preparing The Virtual Space
Part Two: Mastering Virtual Consulting
Conclusion: The future of virtual Dialogic OD
In Dialogic OD planning teams (also known as design teams or steering committees, among other terms) are much, much more than just a group of people planning a project. They are the beginning of the change and key to success. Your expertise in developing a dialogic mindset in team members will greatly determine the success of the entire change effort.
This short, lively book by seasoned Dialogic OD practitioner Sarah Lewis describes how the unfolding interactions with the project sponsor, change agent, and planning team lays the essential groundwork for successful large group Dialogic OD. In organizations that are used to top-down management, the planning team plays many roles, including:
Sarah provides detailed descriptions of the many issues and group dynamics you are likely to face and appropriate responses to each of them. Supporting you as you enter the organization, gain the support of a key sponsor, set up a design team, and then help that team let go of traditional, problem-solving approaches to planned change and instead embrace a generative change approach.
We follow a case of an experienced Dialogic OD practitioner beginning a new assignment for a leader who says he wants to create an empowering, engaging approach to dealing with people issues identified in a staff survey but doesn’t really understand what it takes. We watch her work with an internal change-agent partner who has trouble letting go of mechanistic, bureaucratic processes, and a design team who initially assume their job is to provide solutions for managers to implement. Over a few months, a developmental process takes place as they test, challenge, learn and eventually become the core from which the entire organization gets ready to engage in generative change.
1. From Initial Call to Sponsorship
2. Forming the Planning Team
3. What Does the Planning Team Do?
4. The First Group Meeting
5. From Presenting Problem to Readiness for Emergence
6. Preparing for the First Dialogic Event
7. Addressing Some Specific Concerns of Sponsors
What can you offer and how do you get hired when you can make only a few promises about what will happen? Tova Averbuch provides tested and useful advice on how to enter and contract for consulting when the outcomes cannot be predetermined. But this book is much more than that. Tova gives a step-by-step description of a way of being that most professional Dialogic OD practitioners learn only through apprenticeship. She describes how to show up authentically, (transparent. expressive, curious) and through ones’ presence pull others into a different mindset about leadership and change. Tova offers a compelling image of how the Dialogic OD practitioner, through their way of being in covenant relationships, co-creates a network that will enable a large-scale, emergent, generative change process.
One of her unique insights is that the qualities that make any Dialogic OD large group event explode with passion, creativity, and the energy to move forward and generate change, are the same qualities that need to be cultivated in each new set of relationships. Tova emphasizes that energy for generative change requires a burning issue, a passionately held purpose, or some emotionally charged focus that will draw and engage people into generative conversations that produce new decisions and actions. Those conversations are aided by qualities like curiosity, authenticity, regard for others, openness to new perspectives, and psychological safety. Through cultivating those qualities and attending to purpose in every interaction, the dialogic practitioner prepares the ground for ever-larger groups of stakeholders to be able and want to participate in generative conversations.
With numerous real examples, the book illustrates and explains how a consultant enters and establishes an authentic dialogic presence with an ever-expanding group of people. Tova takes us to the point of establishing a planning team that will design the change process. Her model identifies a series of transitions or beginnings, from the caller to the planning team, each requiring the establishment of a ‘covenant relationship’, which she argues is an essential quality for doing Dialogic OD and traveling unknown paths together. She further identifies four conditions, that operate across levels, which have to be satisfied to complete entry and move onto the next transition.
In the chapter on contracting, Tova continues the OD tradition of emphasizing the psychological contract over legal contracts. But there are practical hurdles to how you offer consulting services for emergent change processes. How can you structure a deal when you can’t make promises about what will happen? Tova’s practical advice on how you negotiate and price Dialogic OD is well worth the cost of the book. She has developed a novel solution to how to be in a continuous process of evocative inquiry from the first moment of contact with the client that satisfies the needs of both client and consultant.
1. Dialogic Work in Organizations
2. Swirling Spiral Model of Initiating Emergent Change
3. Beginnings and Endings
4. Readiness: Initial Screen for Suitability
5. Pre-Contracting: Caller and Sponsor Circles
6. Contracting for Emergent Outcomes
7. Management Team and Planning Team Circles
Beginning today – a concluding note
The seminal text published in 2015 by Berrett-Koehler: Dialogic Organization Development: The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change
President, Board Chair and Member, OD Network, 2009-2016. Co-editor, Handbook for Strategic HR
Director, Future Search Network and Co-author, Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There.
Professor of Practice, Columbia University and SVP, Center for Creative Leadership
Former Head of Ashridge Consulting; Partner, Metalogue and author, Disruption, Change and Transformation in Organisations
Chair, International Association of Facilitators (IAF)
Steward of the Art of Hosting and author, The Tao of Open Space
Author of Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used and Community: The Structure of Belonging
Chief Talent and Inclusion Officer, Marsh
Global Head of HR CoE’s, NEC Corporation
Past Chair, International Association of Facilitators (IAF), London UK
Authour, Agendashift: Outcome Oriented Change and Continuous Transformation
Associate, Mayvin Consulting and Co-Chair, European OD Network
Professor Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management
Co-Founder, The Taos Institute and co-author, The Appreciative Inquiry Handbook