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.

New Dialogic OD article published in OD Practitioner

Inman, J. L., & Thompson, T. A. (2013). Using dialogue then deliberation to transform a warring leadership team. OD Practitioner, 45,  35-40. ODP-V45,No1-Inman & Thompson

This article provides a case study for a dialogic OD intervention.

Calling a focus on social systems the softer side of management is in error…

Although the article from Fast Company, The Perils of Ignoring the Softer Side of Management,  is right on target, I do not like the implication that is softer. We in organizations have to become world class both in work and in social systems to thrive in complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity. We simply must get away from this terminology as its implication is that soft is somehow weaker than hard. And how do we reconsile that women run companies out perform men run companies? Are they softer? Not at all. Women simply are as competent in work as men and far out perform men in social systems. See my About Practice page to explore this further.

The new site for John Inman Dialogue is live!

It has been a long time coming, particularly waiting on my decision to build out my business presence. A special thank you to Mayuri Reddy for her help in getting this done. I will be active in writing on topics that engage to transform the world. Here are my social sites for anyone who wishes to connect.


A post to a question on LinkedIn: Do people expect too much from the organisations in which they work?

Here is what I wrote in response to the question above:

Mary, you have hit a hot button for me on this.

Even though humans create performance, I often hear mangers talk about the humans on their teams as production machines, there to produce outcomes regardless of how they feel. If our team members come to us broken and damaged by the communities within which they have developed, and they do, why would we argue that it is inconvenient or not our role to create interactions that help them heal and become productive and healthy members of our enterprises? This is similar to managers that continuously attack team members as lazy or non-committed. I often hear, “I come to work and do not need to be rewarded and nurtured, therefore why should I do it for others?” My simple answer is because that is what you get paid to do as a leader. I see this attitude as a lack of accountability. I can hear it now, “The reason that I have poor performance, high attrition, high absenteeism, poor relations with my team members is because they have no work ethic and are not committed like I am. If recruiting would just hire quality team members I could be successful”

I ask a very hard question of the leaders that I serve and develop, “Who are you being that you are getting the results that you are getting?” If you do not like the results that you are getting, don’t blame your team and their unreasonable demands and poor work ethic, look to yourself and ask yourself what you are doing to create these results. High performance people create high performance enterprises. We do not lead robots. Humans have messy lives, emotions, relationships, and until we accept that this as so, we are going to pretend that this reality does not exist and drive performance down and team members out of our enterprises and destroy our ability to create loyal relationships with our customers. Of course we should be working with every individual in our enterprises to coach and develop them, and create the respectful relationships necessary for them to grow, feel productive, feel like they can be successful, and produce world class results for our enterprises and for the customers served.

The evidence for this? I have 44 teams within our building all focused on creating loyalty relationships with our customers. Without exception, those supervisors in our site that fully understand the Ying Yang of high performance, that relationship and performance improvement are inextricably combined, and care for and develop strong trust and rapport with their teams and coach them to high performance, have the lowest attrition and absenteeism in the site, have the highest morale on the site, and also have the highest performance on the site. They always reach out and nurture and develop their team members.

When team members feel disenfranchised, unconnected, uncared for, undeveloped, and feel like they cannot be successful in their role, they will fail, the team will fail, the manager will fail, and the company will fail. In the end the customer is the one who suffers. Talented leaders reach out and do what the rest of the managers out there will not do; they create high performance humans, who in turn create high performance for our enterprises and the customers that they serve.

To me the question posed is reactive vs. proactive. “Do people therefore project onto their organizations they work in an expectation that their employer will fulfill all their missing pieces?” A proactive approach is to believe that the organization should be proactively seeking to serve its employees. The organization should be seeking ways to create healthy, loyal, and committed team members rather than waiting for them to demand what they need. It becomes an ownership vs. victim mentality. I as a leader I own my role in creating high performance relationships and team members. I do not sit around complaining that these horrible team members are expecting way too much of me. This is a mentality that will get one nowhere fast.

Have wonderful conversations with your team members,

A Sea Change, wonderful work discovered through networking

Years ago, 43 to be exact, Barbara Ettinger and I were in school together in 5th, 6th, and 7th grades at Ford Country Day School in Los Altos Hills California. I have extraordinary memories of my experience at Ford. The owner, teachers, and experience turned my life around as I wrote in this memorial and thank you to Judy, our friend and wife to Brent the owner of the school.

So why does this have anything to do with conversations? Being in conversation with others is the only way that we can change the world. And it never ceases to amaze me how we end up connecting with others and creating those conversations. One such surprise happened to me only a couple of weeks ago. I had put a page up on my site, linked above, about Ford School hoping to reconnect with others that I went to school with. And to my surprise, Barbara found my site and connected with me. Not only is this very exciting after 43 years, but the work she is doing is world changing work and I wanted to make sure that others were introduced to her film making. I was so impressed to say the least.

Barbara is creating conversations around the world with her work and in no small way, we connected and are now creating another conversation. Amazing. So please go to her web site for her new film, A Sea Change, so that you can explore the work that she is doing to help heal this world of ours.

Keep up the conversations and help others see the possibilities.