why conversations?

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Why is my focus now on conversations? Doing strategy development today is basically a process and it means the process takes centre stage. The people in the room tend to be extras in the process of getting a plan written. While I designed my client processes to have conversation time at various points, one consistent thing that happened in all workshops was that it was always really difficult to get people to come back to the room so we could get on with the process. When the buzz in the room is so strong that you can't easily stop people talking, you are seeing the power of collective conversations about the future at work. Finally the lightbulb in my brain came on.

I have always made the point that conventional planning pays more attention to producing a plan than giving people time to think more deeply about the future of their organisations. This is why I say that strategy without people is strategy without a future. With this new site and my focus now on what might be called strategic conversations (that term is borrowed from Kees van der Heijen), I'm focusing my energy where I can have the most impact in helping people and organisations become futures ready. Not on planning but on designing ways for people to come together to talk about their shared futures.

Conversations about the future ask us to pay attention to people and that in turn, asks us to pay attention to our mindsets that condition how we make sense of reality and how we face the future. Read more about the frame I use to create spaces for conversations about the future, and about our mindsets and the need to open them to the future.

The biggest challenge to developing futures ready strategy is our mindsets. We all have one; no two are exactly alike. In those mindsets, we hold an image of the future, one that holds our most deeply held beliefs and assumptions. The problem is that our mindsets are often stuck in the past and we need to reframe those mindsets to create a futures facing organisation.

A Practical Example

An example of how conversations about the future can work at the national level is the project undertaken by the Australian Academy of Science: Australia 2050 in 2015. Read the report on how they designed and had conversations during that project.