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Hi Tonight, I want to talk about conversation Communication is fundamental to human existence, and conversation is at the heart of communication I will talk about recent research into the importance of conversation, and how it can actually make us smarter
You may have heard David Gurteen quote Zeldin Zeldin is an English historian & author His idea is that when minds meet, we don’t just exchange facts, we transform them, reshape them, draw different implications from them, and engage in new trains of thought
The conversations Zeldin talks about are those we enter prepared to emerge as a different person The way we talk shapes what we do If we talk differently, life and work can be more interesting Gurteen states that: “Conversations are intrinsically creative”
This 2010 research shows that groups of people can have a consistent ability to perform tasks that is independent of the individual intelligence of group members The whole is greater than the sum of its parts This is based from how the team works together
Collective intelligence was found to correlate with: The social sensitivity of group members, The absence of domination by a single member, Equal distribution of conversational turn-taking, And a higher number of women in the group
Teams with more women had higher collective intelligence These teams demonstrated greater social sensitivity This was not a designed part of the study The presence of socially sensitive people produced better team performance, regardless of gender Some may not find this surprising
I have talked here before about “The Idea Monopoly” The idea of group intelligence may not sit well with individualists or executives, or within hierarchies Remember these conversations may be different to the average business meetings in offices we work at!
Conversation is important to innovation The sole brilliant inventor and the “eureka” moment are rare Johnson writes that good ideas happen by sharing and recombining unrelated ideas This needs conversations by groups of people Connectedness makes us more creative
Johnson talks about the ‘adjacent possible’ Some discoveries depend upon others having already happened The printing press first needed the invention of paper, ink and movable type Don’t isolate the sole genius in a laboratory…
Expand the range of your possible next moves by conversation One good way to do this may be via Communities of Practice - A place where peers can come together to hold conversations
Further research has been done by psychologist Oscar Ybarra This shows that certain types of conversations actually improve individual mental function This is simply talking to other people - the way you do when you're making friends
These conversations only need to be brief – 10 minutes or so But they must be friendly conversations Ybarra looked at one aspect of mental function - executive function This includes working memory, self-monitoring and focus Competitive conversations have no effect
The aspects of these conversations that helped were trying to understand the other person - putting yourself in their shoes The research also showed a connection between social intelligence and general intelligence Before something big – have a chat!
There are many conversational knowledge sharing tools The Gurteen Knowledge Café brings people together to have an open, creative conversation to: Surface collective knowledge, Share ideas and insights and to Gain a deeper understanding of a subject
Other conversational tools may be targeted at specific outcomes – these include: World Café Peer Spirit Circle Open Space Technology The Art of Hosting – this combines a number of these for different outcomes
The conversation may not only be face to face; it may be virtual Microblogging tools like Yammer let us carry on the conversation, even when we can’t be together The conversation here starts with the question “What are you working on?”
Other tools like Facebook can add to the conversation Here we can tell when people are around to chat at any time – ambient awareness With social media, we can expand our networks
So where does this all take us? Conversation can create new knowledge It helps us work together better It helps us to innovate It even makes us smarter individually
It is also through conversation that we can address the complexity we find in today’s organisations It’s how we engage people in organisations Conversation and story help us to understand emergence
This was a rapid overview of the importance of conversation I look forward to chatting more about it later over a glass of red – or dinner References: Slide 2, 3: Gurteen, D, nd, ‘On conversation and minds, by Theodore Zeldin’ Gurteen Knowledge , <http://www.gurteen.com/gurteen/gurteen.nsf/id/X00039436/>. Slide 4-6: Dizikes, P, 2010, Study finds small groups demonstrate distinctive ‘collective intelligence’ when facing difficult tasks , <http://www.physorg.com/news205076011.html>. Slide 7: De La Rue, K, 2010, ‘Presentation – The Idea Monopoly?’, AcKnowledge Consulting , 25 June, <http://delarue.net/blog/2010/06/presentation-the-idea-monopoly/>. Slide 8,9: Burkeman, O, 2010, ‘The slow hunch of genius’, The Age , 23 October, <http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/books/the-slow-hunch-of-genius-20101022-16xxt.html>. Slide 11-13: Swanbrow, D, 2010, ‘Friends with cognitive benefits: Mental function improves after certain kinds of socializing’, University of Michigan News Service , <http://ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=8063>. Slide 14: Gurteen, D, nd, ‘Knowledge Café’, Gurteen Knowledge , < http://www.gurteen.com/gurteen/gurteen.nsf/id/kcafe/>.
Art of conversation
The Art of Conversation: All of us are smarter than any of us Keith De La Rue http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragunsk/
Conversation doesn't just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards – Theodore Zeldin
Prepare to change http://www.flickr.com/photos/36238874@N02/
Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups - Woolley et al, 2010
Women and conversation <ul><li>More sensitivity? </li></ul>http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmi_managers/
The Idea Monopoly? http://www.flickr.com/photos/http2007/
Conversation and innovation <ul><li>Progress is more about one door leading to another door </li></ul><ul><li>- Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From </li></ul>http://www.flickr.com/photos/mansionwb/
The adjacent possible http://www.flickr.com/photos/gastev/
The benefits of friendship http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_luna/