Peter Bednar’s Statement of Interest

Conversations in an organizational setting frequently take place in a context of decision-making. Often, participants are engaged in a process intended to achieve some kind of consensus upon a course of action. The pressure often experienced within organizational life may often mean that participants are concerned to get across their own opinions and thus influence the outcome of a decision, with the result that they lack either the will or the possibility to pay sufficient attention to what other people are saying. My work and that of my collaborator have been concerned over many years to support effective dialogue between organisational actors so that they have space to explore both the similarities and the differences in their contextually-created views. What matters to each individual is not only impossible to judge externally but also irreducible to any common ‘metric’. However, discussion of ideas is still valuable within a community whose interests overlap. Just as it would make no sense to ask for a consensus on whether people prefer oranges, bicycles or tropical fish, but a conversation with a group of people about their hobbies and interests is nevertheless worthwhile. We have highlighted a need to go beyond naive models for decision-making that emphasise some kind of bi-valued logic (true/false, yes/no) and support people to explore the full range of ‘it depends’ – i.e. listen to the whole variety of potential view points. Thus, a conference in which ‘listening’ is highlighted is particularly appealing to us. We hope, by listening to other delegates, to expand our understandings of ways in which effective dialogue can be supported. This can help us to reflect and expand upon the toolbox which is central to our approach. We also anticipate great fun in listening to like-minded people whose ideas are not constrained by conventional models for organizational discourse.

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