Conversations: the gaps between “real work” tasks?

Shawn, over at anecdote, has an interesting item about conversations. He mentions a new book on the topic and some “stinging” critisim from Steve Denning. In part of his post, Shawn states that:

I would also say that I have noticed that people in organisation rarely seem to have (or make) the time for conversation. Most talking is done to achieve a task which must reduce the ability for people to explore new ideas, innovate and revitalise their thinking.

I agree with Shawn’s observation but my feeling is that conversations in corporations/organisations are not entirely absent. But, to me, they seem to occur in the gaps between “real work” in the form of corridor chats, coffee engagements, friday night drinks, and even at the social events included as part of a work or professional conference. I think that last example is the best I can come up with in terms of organisations formally acknowledging and encouraging the value of conversations.

Do you have an examples of a corporation or organisation encouraging conversations?

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3 comments

  1. Andrew – I think it depends on the organisation – and the individual. Oracle’s Sydney office has a coffee shop on its ground floor with plenty of comfy seating. It’s a heavily sales-based organisation so the staff are used to talking a lot.

    IBM’s ValuesJam was an attempt to create conversations around key topics virtually at a global level – with some success.

    That said, with some people, it’s always as tho they are on a word ration…

  2. Thanks Matt. It does depend on the organisation culture and the individuals. Of course, with large organisations there are often multiple cultures so that real conversations may be plentiful in one area and absent in another.


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