Expert Coaching. Practical Resources.

November 21, 2019


Dee Incoronato

The Powerful Nature of Conversation

While I was working on my doctoral degree in Organization Development, one professor emphasized the powerful nature of conversation in an organization. She pointed out repeatedly the many ways language creates change and in the process of conversation, change emerged. Ralph D. Stacey in his book Strategic Management and Organizational Dynamics: The Challenge of Complexity discusses the thematic patterning of conversation as transforming. Stacey argues organizational strategic direction and change takes place in the conversational patterns and emerging themes of people while in conversation. In the course of communicating, possible futures are created and courses of action evolve. In the Policy Governance® model, ownership linkage is a fundamental principal.  The Board connects with owners to understand their values through conversation and as themes emerge, so does an emerging organizational future.

 As the informed voice of the owners, the board has the responsibility to engage the owners and establish an on-going dialogue to inform Ends. Ends policies sets the organizational strategic direction; therefore, linking and conversing with the owners to inform organizational direction is critical. Ownership linkage is defined by John Carver as the “intentional and constructive dialogue and deliberation between owners and board members around the organization’s Ends”.

Organizational change emerges as conversational themes change. Communicative interaction changes the discussion allowing divergent courses of action to take place in the creation of a new future. As Stacey pointed out, “Knowledge is language and meaning emerges as themes interact to form conversation”.  Ownership linkage and the critical dialogue that takes place guides organizational direction and change. This is the board’s ultimate responsibility.



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