Dialogic Process Consulting

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.

Outline of the Book

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.


Watch a 10 minute video of Bob talking about the book.

About the Author

Robert J. Marshak is recognized as one of the leading contemporary thinkers about organizational consulting and change. He began his career as a management analyst in a U.S. government scientific agency and later served in senior executive positions in science policy before leaving to start his own consulting practice. As a consultant, coach, and/or educator, he worked globally with senior leaders on strategic change initiatives. He most recently served as a Distinguished Scholar in Residence for OD Programs at American University, Washington, DC.

Over the years, Bob also worked with thousands of participants in OD and change leadership programs at universities and institutes in the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan. For NTL Institute he designed and served as Dean for residential workshops in conflict management, organizational change, and dealing with covert processes. He also served as Dean for NTL Certificate programs in Organization Development and Change Management conducted in Korea, Singapore and India. At American University he was one of the founding faculty for their OD Masters Program and taught more than 70 cohorts of OD graduate students.

Bob is the author of Covert Processes at Work: Managing the Five Hidden Dimensions of Organizational Change (2006), Organizational Change: Views from the Edge (2009), co-editor with Gervase Bushe of Dialogic Organization Development; The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change (2015), as well as more than 100 articles and book chapters on organizational consulting and change. He received the 2009 Douglas McGregor Memorial Award for the Best Article in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, the 2016 Best Article Award in the Organization Development Journal, and the 2016 Most Outstanding Article Award in the Organization Development Practitioner.

His contributions as a consultant, educator, and author about language and change, the hidden dynamics of organizations, and Dialogic Organization Development have been recognized by numerous awards including: The OD Network’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the inaugural Distinguished Educator Award from the Organization Development and Change Division of the Academy of Management. A chapter about him and his work is in the Palgrave Handbook of Organizational Change Thinkers (2017). His BA is from Duke University and MPA and Ph.D. degrees from American University.