Conversations that Matter (CTM) are a unique and powerful way to ensure the active engagement of all participants in a dialogue.
Based on the World Café method, the non threatening, fun environment releases creativity, uncovers new solutions, and shifts attitudes and behaviours. CTMs are effective with groups of any size and type.
- tapping into creativity – generating new ideas or possibilities
- bringing about a change in thinking, attitude and behaviour
- building trusting relationships in diverse teams
- determining constructive possibilities for action
- eliciting input ahead of a strategy session
- helping groups to internalise new ideas eg company values or customer service principles
- dealing with change
They are also great to include within a conference – introduces variety, increases engagement, literally gets people talking!
It is flesh and blood people in conversation, learning from each other, sharing, who create the innovations and solutions that make or break the organization. – Alan M Webber, former Editor Harvard Business Review
Participants sit in groups of four or five around small tables. A trained facilitator sets the scene and poses a question. The small groups discuss their responses to the question. Everyone gets a chance to share from personal experience and view point – all are on an equal footing. People are encouraged to doodle and illustrate and to listen together for patterns and insights in the group views.
The facilitator may pose a second question which builds from the first, or ask for more discussion on the initial question. Either way the groups build on the previous thoughts – cross pollinating & connecting diverse perspectives.
Typically there are at least three rounds but there maybe more. Feedback to the entire group may be given at any stage.
After the multiple rounds the facilitator helps to draw the conclusions.
An exciting addition is to have a graphic recorder create a permanent record that can be used for further interventions or for reinforcement.
Experiences from Previous Conversations
Our unit consists of a diverse group of people who were struggling, to different extents, to deal with their diversity.
We realised that changing behaviours is challenging, so CanBeeDone facilitated a series of Conversations that Matter covering aspects of diversity, prejudice and tolerance.
These were well received by the staff. They really enjoyed the café style small groups and the opportunity to interact with their colleagues – to hear what others thought and felt. It was a valuable method to get people to discuss difficult topics much more openly in a non-threatening and fun environment, and to increase their insight.
Sophia Janse van Rensburg, Director, National Treasury
My view is that it creates a relaxed and social environment to progress discussion. It gets rid of formalities, but still retains structure. Properly managed, a result must surface.
Andy Watkins, Operations Manager, FNB Africa
Geanne Gelderblom, Innovation Programme Manager, FNB
The whole session motivated my champions to want to do more…
Thoko Mzimela, Manager, FNB
More about how it works
Conversations have been run successfully for groups from twelve, up to hundreds of participants, in a wide variety of settings and cultures.
They can be designed for sessions as short as 90 minutes as well as conversations lasting several days. A CTM can stand alone or serve as part of a larger meeting or conference.
Some Interesting International Experiences
Bob Veazie of Hewlett-Packard used the World Café pattern & principles to lead a major safety improvement effort affecting 50 000 employees over a four year period. “Four or five of us began “table hopping” between key sites around the world…Puerto Rico went from 4.1% to 0.2%, among the world’s best. The company as a whole was able to reduce the overall accident rate by ~33%….It was the questions themselves, coupled with the invitation to explore them, that moved people from compliant behaviour to committed performance.”
Over a five year period Florida’s Polk County used CTM’s to engage 138 school principals and 5000 teachers in order to improve school performance amongst 84 000 learners. “The teachers discovered that they didn’t need a whole lot of training or new materials in order to have productive dialogue; they just needed the focused time to talk together and discover what they already knew about their kids and about what needed to be different.”
See what others say after experiencing our workshops and programmes.
Contact us today to put together a programme to address your company’s specific needs.