Introduction to new paper: Social Change Through Multi-Generational Dialogue

Social Change Through Multi-Generational Dialogue
The root of our global crisis, more frequently than not, is a crisis of leadership” (Pór, 2008a, p. 14). This very well might be the foundation of the difficulties we face as we approach social change globally. We are depending on old paradigms of leadership which fall short of what we need as we organize to address the complexity and challenges of our world. Depending on older leaders who bring forth the knowledge and experience of leading in a world that no longer exists to train and develop emerging leaders is one of the artifacts we need to challenge if we are going to be able to act effectively to create the needed social changes to create a healthy world. Older leaders stand to learn just as much from younger leaders as younger leaders have to learn from older leaders. This paper proposes that we can transform leaders of all ages by bringing them together in multi-generational dialogue to address the pressing questions that we as people, organizations, and societies face now and into the years to come. Pór, a pioneer in collective intelligence, explains the old paradigm as well as what we can expect by changing the paradigm when he explains,
In hierarchy-ridden social institutions [or any organization]….the meaning making function is attributed to the top. Times of exponential expansion of knowledge and complexity call for a new, more capable mode of the social organization of meaning. When this happens, we won’t be drowning in information while longing for wisdom (p. 11).
As we bring generationally diverse leaders into dialogue around questions that are critical to our future, we provide a framework for community intelligence to emerge. And when we add to this a global perspective that understands that all things are interconnected, we have the opportunity for global wisdom of the group to emerge and it is this group wisdom that will provide us the direction to move forward. As group wisdom is one of the important outcomes that this paper hopes to highlight, let’s define what we mean by group wisdom and why it is different than collective intelligence. Atlee and Pór (2006) provide a us with a picture of the difference between collective intelligence and wisdom. They start by explaining that collective intelligence is not always wise and it is wisdom that we need which then leads us into their explanation of collective intelligence and wisdom. They say
In relation to intelligence, wisdom can be viewed as an expanded perspective and motivation that embraces more of the whole of the situation being considered. Collective intelligence is wise, then, to the extent it successfully embraces whole systems in all their complexity and contexts; the interests, capacities and perspectives of all stakeholders and of the systems, themselves; full, relevant, and nuanced information about the situation; the whole of who we are as human beings; any emergent realities and creative possibilities; and so on. The more that intelligence — whether individual or collective — embraces the whole of relevant reality, the wiser we can consider it to be.

A time to reflect on the years conversations

With school, work, health, and family, this has been an incredibly busy year. I can honestly say that I do not remember a year quite like it. So many wonderful outcomes of the conversations that I have had as well. After four years in my current role at work, our site is performing and our leadership team is doing well. I have been coaching and mentoring our leadership team to coach through conversation using conversational leadership, engage with their direct reports, simplify messages, and create the discipline to have the right conversations at the right time and not procrastinate. Incredibly after four years they are doing it and it is paying off. Our staff is doing much better and morale is up. Our site feels successful. Wonderful.

My family is doing great. David is working as a barista and he has a wonderful conversational style with his clients. They love him and he is having fun.  Hazel and Kinnera are also doing well with my Hazel helping at school and again dance skating. Kinnera loves school and is one of the top students in school. She is an example why gaming is not bad for kids. She is a fantastic gamer,  a fantastic student, and socially very connected. A fantastic kid.

School is going well. I am finishing my coursework so that I can start my dissertation starting in May. I study so much it is incredible. But I love the work. My field is dialogue and deliberation and the focus of my thesis is going to be developing generationally diverse leadership in conversational leadership through sustained dialogue using The World Cafe. Very exciting work and I am excited to begin. I will be glad to have my coursework behind me and focus on my dissertation. Another exciting transition in my life.

I hope you have a wonderful new year. I know that I will.