“Provocative Dialogues” and Team #Learning

I was really struck today by an HBR article by Todd Warner (Corporate Learning Programs Need to Consider Context, Not Just Skills) that talks about different approaches to driving organizational learning. One idea discussed was that of “provocative dialogues”, where leaders are encouraged to bring ideas to teams not through typical PowerPoint presentations, but through strategically designed dialogues. The intent of these sessions was to not to focus on content, but rather on giving leaders an opportunity to connect differently with their teams and share insights about what was actually going on. New content was available, but it wasn’t the driver of the discussion–the goal was to get teams to think differently about the way they worked, and what they could do differently. The leaders, in turn, received feedback about their impact on the system and what they needed to change in order to more effectively realize their strategy.


This year, I have led multiple Change Management training sessions the old fashioned way, with a PowerPoint deck and canned activities to illustrate the components of what I was presenting. I can’t help wondering how effective those sessions were–how much did people take away from my presentation? Did they really understand how to use what I was trying to show them? As I prepare to lead a new change initiative, I love this idea of “provocative dialogues”, and wonder how I could use that get people to talk about the learning content they have been exposed to. I would love to get team members talking about where they have applied their change management learnings so far, and how they think they could apply them in our upcoming change initiative. Not sure how this will work, but I’m going to give it a try!

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