Dialogue and design

My short outing to DC was fast and furious with a sequence of meetings, not all of them work, that energized and inspired. It was a successful outing, getting clarity on a new assignment, having some quiet time over lunch, drinks and dinner with longtime friends.

I am doing work I love: talking with people about their hopes and dreams and then tapping into their vast experience and creativity to produce a design that will take them to where they want to go.  One design is for a knowledge management conference later this spring, and another for colleagues working on a large worldwide pharmaceutical systems strengthening project.

The design process is I am following  paths created by many great thinkers who I admire, Marv Weisbord, Meg Wheatley, David Cooperrider and Tim Brown.  All of them appeared on my screen during the last three days.

First there was David Cooperrider who reminded me to be mindful of when I am in deficit thinking mode and switch to strengths-based thinking. Coopperider met with Peter Drucker just before he passed away and shared a pearl of his wisdom: the task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths, making a system’s weaknesses irrelevant.

The implication of this point of view is enormous for all of us involved in the consulting business, raising the question to me, “what if we stop looking for what is wrong, how would that change our consulting work?”

Cooperrider showed some video clips from high energy events that looked very familiar. At one a black-clad person was scribing in the background. I imagined this could have been Sita.  These kinds of meetings are normal in my family but in the world they are not the norm quite yet. I am optimistic that one day they will.

On my way home I watched Tim Brown from IDEO about design thinking, a critical requirement to make sure that the dialogues are more than a cool way to meet but actually result in something tangible. I returned home inspired and energized – sitting between tired executives and students shuttling between DC and the Boston area.

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January 2013
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