ROMBOUT VAN DEN NIEUWENHOF PHD (2013)
This chapter starts with the assumption that organizing and changing organizations is mainly a conversational or ‘discursive’ process in which people together create a meaningful picture of their environment. They construct this organizational reality out of a variety of different stances or positions from a more general organizational discourse. Generative speech or generative dialogue in this chapter refers to the differences between those positions, to the hidden potential of the in-between, and to the effort of handling these differences meaningfully and productively. Challenging basic assumptions and welcoming strange positions however, no matter how enriching this potentially might be, also means letting go of our basic assumptions and thus, can be very frightening. Inclusion of unfamiliar stances and seemingly irrational worldviews require openness, courage, boundaries and containing capacity, and therefore often need the assistance of a facilitator. In my view, there are several levels of dialoguing, with increasing generative potential and increasing difficulty. Higher level generative dialogues are filled with split second bifurcation points, where fear and expanding learning opportunities are in mutual competition. Small moments can suddenly change the whole field of possibilities. For practical reasons, I propose a ‘ladder of complexity’ as an analytic model to adjust the dialogue to the ‘required complexity’ of the specific change processes at hand, to recognise some of the (strange) attractors at each level of dialogue and for the facilitator to adjust his or her role.