Conversation as a Radical Act
The days have flown by since Juanita Brown, Nancy Margulies, Amy Lenzo and I engaged a room of over 250 people at the Systems Thinking in Action conference around Conversation as a Radical Act. This was a loving manifestation of the work and thinking of Juanita and her extended community, building on the things they have discovered through The World Cafe. This is world AS cafe. And the power we have to bring light into the world.
The session was an opening on the idea of conversation as a radical act - with radical meaning "from the root." Amy did a wonderful job capturing and harvesting the pearls of the session, and we have continued to harvest on a wiki where we have videos (more to come), photos, the collective manifestation from an exercise and a place for people to continue to think about what it means to convene and participate in conversations as radical acts.
I encourage you to visit both the blog and the wiki. Here is a quote that Juanita shared that might give you a shimmer of what this is all about...
In my work, a lot of people talk about "discussions." It seems to be a more businesslike word than conversations, but I think there is a risk of missing some fundamental qualities of conversation when we move it too far into the clinical side of "discussions." The 7 principles of The World Cafe (page 2 of this pdf) can be a filter to see if we are using the power of our conversations, so they can generate acts that make a difference.
Humberto Maturana in a talk by Fritjof Capra: “We bring forth our worlds through the networks of conversation within which we participate.”
We also have a tendency to say a lot of online conversations are "all talk and no action." But we may be throwing the baby out with the bath water, because we often don't see the impacts of what we each carry away from conversations. We may not be acting in concert with those we just conversed with, but there is often action. Conversation as catalyst. Or enzyme.
A little Tuesday afternoon rambling...