The Power of Dialogic Teamwork

Experiencing power with, not power over

The Whole is Greater than the Sum of the Parts

On the final day we will explore the power of dialogic teamwork. A group of people meeting together is not necessarily a team. Many groups are transactional in nature, working their way down the list in a mechanical way. When people have a common purpose and see they are interdependent to achieve it, then they start to act as a team. As well as the individuals there is the fabric of relationship that provides healthy support and challenge. The team as a whole is greater than the sum of the individual contributions. This is where the power lies, and the capability to achieve great things.

To deepen the consideration we will introduce thinking about:

  • Power with not power over
    In a fragmented situation, which is incoherent, autocratic power is most valued. It leads to partisan decisions that intend to benefit some at a cost to others. On the other hand, a diverse but coherent situation has a more systemic nature – leading to power being distributed across the whole. That distributed power is inherently made up of authority and accountability. People in such a team use the authority of their role, presence, experience and relationships to enhance that of others, and to ensure a common sense of accountability for the task at hand.
  • Seeing the Whole
    Rather than being preoccupied with the local silo or department, the open and transparent flow of communication enables people to see the whole. If you can see the whole, you can act in relation to the whole. In the whole system there is an intelligence, and there are self-corrective mechanisms to recognise and respect.
  • Tracking the Emergent Story
    Managers are trained to track the progress of transactions across an organization and with other stakeholders, supply chains and so on. What is less common is to watch and listen beyond the transactions to the space between the people involved. In this ‘space between’ is information about the whole system and how it operates. This includes the emergent story of the organization that can be seen by leaders who can subtly shift the balance by moving their weight on the seesaw of daily activities.
  • Creating New Meaning
    Encouraging system-wide developmental reflection to create new understanding of what is happening and what is possible – thereby creating new meaning.

"Sometimes we just become complacent in the way that we do things. So to be able to be with such a fantastic group of individuals where we can actually talk about dialogue is inspirational to me."

Alfreda Shinns, participant at The World Needs Dialogue 2022

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