First ever Dialogic OD Conference in Vancouver BC last week

Dialogic OD opening comments

The first ever dialogic organizational development conference was last week in Vancouver BC at Simon Fraser University. The opening remarks were taped from an interview with Edgar Schein which framed the day beautifully. We had numerous opportunities to engage with others at the conference and the ongoing conversations were a high point for the event.

It was striking that we had 125 participants from around the world, all dedicated to developing an organizational development practice that fits the reality of our times, one framed by complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity. Old OD practices of diagnosis and command and control, simply are not effective in taping into the wealth of knowledge and experience necessary to pivot in a dynamic world. This is where the emerging practice of dialogic OD have the opportunity to truly make a difference in engaging the minds of people who can and will change our world.

Meeting friends and colleagues was another benefit to being at the conference. It is not easy to stay in touch with so much going on and the conference provided the setting where reconnecting with old friends and connecting with new friends was possible.

More information about dialogic OD can be found on my research page. I would welcome a conversation with anyone interested in the field and would be glad to work with organizations interested in moving away from change consulting based on old rigid models of command and control and move to those based on dialogic OD helping organizations thrive in complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty. Reach out to Dr. Inman at or call him at 425-954-7256.

The Flow Game

Picture of Flow Game














Toke Moller, the creator of the Flow Game and of Art of Hosting, visited Seattle last weekend to train a group of new Flow Game hosts. I participated in the Sunday session where those hosts facilitated the game with volunteers. There were 20 volunteers who participated in the game, four per table. The game is designed to help go very deep with issues. The game can last a matter of hours as ours did or can last days, with participants coming back to the game periodically.

The game is inspired by Indigenous thought with the layout being four directions and earth and heavens. Each of the directions has a stack of cards. A participant draws a card and follows the instructions or speaks to what it means to her/him. Other players have the opportunity to offer ideas and insights. We played for three hours and the depth of conversation was stunning. What a powerful game and framework for transformative conversations.

I would highly recommend finding a Flow Game host and participating in this process. If you would like to find a host and are unsure how to go about doing so, I would be glad to find someone to host a game for you and your team. See our team of four below with our host. We played at the Impact Hub in Seattle.

John Inman Flow Game team










Feel free to contact Dr. Inman for a conversation or ideas on how to use the Flow Game. 425-954-7256 or

Group Works: A Pattern Language for Bringing Life to Meetings














I participated in a wonderful workshop to expand my understanding of how to integrate the Group Works card deck into my dialogic hosting. I started using the Group Works cards several years ago but I tend to put them on the shelf and then forget to pull them out for sessions. This workshop reignited my passion for this wonderful deck of cards designed to foster appreciative conversations.

We started out the weekend with a potluck on Friday evening and after conversation and getting to know each other, we dove into some fun and innovative games using the Group Works cards. Sue Woerhlin and her partner opened up their home for the group and we had a great time. We also had the opportunity to explore a variety of strategies on how to use the card deck. Many of these strategies are on the Group Works site. Both the evening games and the workshop on Saturday were hosted by Tree Bressen, Wesley Lucas, Sue Woerhlin, & Dave Pollard.

The Saturday workshop provided a day of work experiencing a variety of applications of the use of the cards. I met many new people and was delighted to make new friends, several of which came in from out of state. I highly recommend either downloading a deck of cards to print or ordering a wonderful box of cards to use in your meetings. The applications are endless.

As my practice is founded on co-creation and emergence, I chose to use the picture from the emergence card for this post: A butterfly. Here is the emergence card as an example.


Feel free to contact Dr. Inman for a conversation or ideas on how to use the Group Works cards. 425-954-7256 or


Further thoughts on Social Change Through Multi-Generational Dialogue

The below is a section on my paper that I believe provides the foundation of why we need to change how we are talking in our organizations. Again if you would like to full paper, just let me know.

According to Bontekonig (2011) in organization and social structures based on hierarchical leadership models, newer generations are only able to contribute as much as the older generation allows. The older generations can choose to support the tendencies of the emerging generations which will update the surrounding culture or they can block these tendencies and effectively stymie social change. In a time of rapid change and complexity as we are now experiencing, slowing down or blocking the input of newer generations of leaders can be devastating to the social changes that are needed to address the complexity and challenges faced by our organizations and societies. Bontekonig says,
Each generation needs the support of the other ones to complete their destiny in improving the culture, be it in a company or in society….when a generation is not supported in a company, the leaders of this generation – about 15% of the generation – often leaves this company soon. The followers stay and adapt to the ongoing culture. Which means that the culture of this company will not be updated and slowly loses its vitality and inevitably will ‘die’ (p. 5).

A World Cafe for fellow Fielding doctoral students and faculty

My friend and fellow doctoral traveler Bart Buechner hosted the November San Francisco Fielding Cluster meeting at the VA center in Yountville just north of Napa Calif. We had two faculty that came in to deliver a workshop on Critical Theory and I was to host a World Cafe after lunch. I did make it down but it was an arduous trip. I got to the airport in Redmond Oregon at 5:30 am and the plane was delayed and did not leave until 9:15. I got lots of reading in at least. I did make it down to the Bay Area and after picking up a car made it to the meeting at just after 1 pm, 4 hours late. But I did make it in time for some of the workshop, lunch, conversation, and then the delivery of the World Cafe. Most of the participants, 14 in all, had not experienced The World Cafe and one of those who had did not have a good experience so I was excited to introduce the fantastic dialogic process to the group.

We as a group came up with a question which focused on power differentials and the Obama election and whether Obama could make a difference and what our hopes and dreams had been in supporting the Obama election. We had a short amount of time so I did a quick philosophical introduction to The World Cafe as a dialogic process and then set 15 minute rounds and a 10 minute harvest. The conversation was outstanding and again based on the results it was clear that the power of dialogue is what can drive the healing of the world. Although it was a short meeting for me, the trip down was invaluable.

At 3:45 I hit the road to go to Woodside to have dinner and visit with my friend Deborah and her husband Stephen at the home of one of their dear friends. After driving in pouring rain the whole way I got there at 6 pm and stayed until just after 8 pm. Wonderful conversations with Deborah and the hosts. Let for the airport and got to the terminal at 9 pm. Noticed that my flight was delayed, thank God, as it had been scheduled to leave at 9:05. I have no idea how I thought that it left at 10. Well it was delayed until 10 and then until 11 and by the time I got home it was 1:30 am and I was exhausted. But it was well worth it.

The trip although a busy, was a reminder of how important dialogue is and how important gathering in friendship is to us. Have wonderful conversations and a great holiday season.


Dialogue Partner (Samtalspartner)

It has been a long time since I posted and I can honestly say that my doctoral work is keeping me buried, both in time and mentally. With that said my doctoral work is focused on dialogue and deliberation and is an expansion of the work in conversation that I have been doing over the last ten years. Of note is that I have finally defined what my role is in our world, and that is the role of dialogue partner. As you see in my title, I identify a dialogue partner as a Samtalspartner, a term and a practice from Sweden. Here is the definition of my practice:

Dialogue Partner (Samtalspartner) – in a relationship of mutual respect and trust with partners (or client systems) accompanying one another in service to generating value to all the stakeholders to the enterprise.

My doctoral work in human and organization systems from Fielding Graduate University provides a strong foundation for my field of practice as well as a focus on social justice which is of critical importance to me. So as I have moved forward in my field of practice, I have been digging even deeper into the field of dialogue and deliberation and am excited to apply this work as I explore new ventures where social justice is a critical component of the work.

My general field of study is as follows: Doctoral Student – Researching social transformation through multi-generational dialog using The World Cafe within a living systems framework. I am also completing a certification in dialogue, deliberation and public engagement which is giving me more tools to help communities of all types socially transform to create a healthier world for all people both human and non-human alike.

Thank you for visiting and continue the conversation.


Conversation reduces the stress of moving

My family is just about to move to Redmond Oregon and after living apart from my family for almost three years, we are finally going to be together. But probably as many would agree, uprooting the family and moving is very stressful. Planning for the move and making the decisions about what stays and what goes and what we need to purchase is even more stressful.

My inclination is to simply say here is what we need to do and do it. As you might imagine, this simply does not work well. Finally my wife Hazel and I sat down and started to talk about all of the decisions we needed to make. We took our little girl out to see new furniture for her new room. We explored what to get rid of. As we sat down to talk, the stress of all of these issues came to the surface. We were tense and the conversation started in spits and spurts. A conversation did emerge and as we worked through all of these issues. We began to move into our normal pattern of give and take and had a wonderful conversation. At the furniture store, I had envisioned that we get our little girl a Loft Bunk Bed as we will have far less space in our new home. She was highly resistant particularly since she too is very stressed out over the loss of her home and many treasured furnishings. After letting her work her way through her concerns she ended up falling in love with the Loft Bunk Bed. It was a lesson in relaxing and letting a conversation emerge rather than try to force a decision too quickly.

For a high “D” person, this letting go takes quite an effort but the results are fantastic. Being in conversation is so much more meaningful and rewarding that a discussion. See etymology in my first post to see the difference. This weekend was an excellent reminder of the power of conversation. A conversation can not be rushed, it can not be controlled, and the outcome can not be dictated. One needs to be open to letting emerge what should emerge. I am again reminded that conversation is what binds together people in a living system and leads to order out of chaos. This is not always easy to see when one is in the middle of the chaos.

I wish you the best in your conversations.