Dialogue: The Art of Thinking Together

Author: William Isaacs
Publisher: Currency Doubleday
Length: 428 Pages

W. Isaacs, founder and president of Dialogos has created a great book in the area of dialogue for Leaders or teams that are focusing on creating synergies thru Thinking Together. Abba Eban summarizes the central problem stating that "Leaders have not learned to think together... and that most political and corporate Leaders, academics, community builders and families struggle with the same problem".

According to the text what is needed is a powerful set of practical tools and practices that help us understand that how we THINK does affect how we talk and communicate to others. The author states clearly that a Dialogue is not something you do to another person... it is something you do with another person!

A dialogue is a shared inquiry, a way of thinking and reflecting together which creates a conversation with a center, not sides. The word can trace its Greek root to "a flow of meaning, an ability to take multiple unique issues and opinions to conversation and create something new and original". Communication is the center of our culture as individuals, yet we rarely make time for true communication in listening & hearing our inner voice in society today.

Isaacs' book is organized into five "Key Parts":

What Is Dialogue?

Building Capacity for New Behavior;

Predictive Intuition;

Architecture of the Invisible;

Widening the Circle.

The author uses many parables of his own personal experiences and case studies to show how dialog can help resolve differences and open opportunities between groups. It is the ability to take a step towards a conversation that allows people to THINK together in a relationship which implies you no longer take your own position as final. This book not only offers us the opportunity to reflect on our own mindsets and practices, it also provides a useful cognitive frameworks and repeatable strategies to help Leaders and teams resolve differences and engage in the New Behavior we call dialogue.

* Building Capacity for New Behavior is centered on:

* Listening - without resistance or opposition * Respecting - awareness and integrity of another's position

* Suspending Opinion - assumptions, judgment and certainty

* Voicing - what needs to be said (p. 419)

Isaacs points out that we do not work hard in preparing to listen. The listening element of dialogue cannot be overemphasized because it can allow a way to perceive more directly the ways we jointly participate in the world around us... This means the interconnection between listening & hearing others balanced by our inner voice and our reactions." Only when we can participate with others, understand the difference between memory and thinking and striving not to judge to create a right and a wrong idea can we move away from thinking alone.


Published In: April 2007, In2In Thinking Network