WWIF #5: Convening and Conversing

"Creating a positive future begins in human conversation.
The simplest and most powerful investment any member of a community or an organization may make in renewal is to begin talking with other people as though the answers mattered." —William Greider
Regardless of your profession, industry, or community, there is great knowledge and creativity going untapped in it.  Books like The Wisdom of Crowds and Crowdsourcing offer insights about the value of engaging individuals' ideas and interests.  Online communities, wikis, and other platforms enable us to to do.  Face-to-face gatherings can be enhanced using simple meeting technologies like The World Cafe.

Imagine bringing them all together periodically in an integrated format to focus on a compelling question of interest to your members and stakeholders.  Imagine meaningful conversations happening at the grassroots level and the ideas they generate being shared across your members in real-time.  Imagine these types of conversations happening throughout the year, each addressing a different topic.  Imagine the change that might be possible.  Companies like IBM do exactly this in events such as Innovation Jam.

What if associations created Conversation Kits—each focusing on a compelling question of interest to its members—and then scheduled periodic industry-wide Days of Conversation?

A kit might include:
  • A brief guide on facilitating great conversations
  • Podcasts, video clips, and short essays offering fresh thinking on the compelling question
  • Sample agendas of varying lengths for how the discussions could be structured
  • Links to an online site where output from the conversations could be shared
The goal is to engage at the local level your entire membership or community in a simultaneous exploration of an important issue or question, capture the ideas and insights from those conversations in real-time, promulgate that output back to your members, and then use it internally to guide existing efforts and identify innovative opportunities to now pursue.

Note:  Wednesday What If is a weekly feature applying the "what if" mindset associated with abductive reasoning or logic in an effort to stretch our thinking about what is desirable and very frequently, quite doable.