It's all about conversations

Markets are conversations ~ Cluetrain Manifesto

… and so are organizations.

The network design principles successful organizations follow are: ( 1 ) shortening the distance between two randomly picked files/nodes/people. ( 2 ) getting more people who you personally know to know each other. ~ Esko Kilpi


How do we have these at work? I mean real conversations, about work that matters.

We narrate our work.

This was very natural when people worked together.

Fishermen repairing their nets on the wharf at the foot of Union Street in San Francisco – Source: Wikimedia

Jane Hart, in a very preliminary survey, shows the top three ways that people prefer to learn at work:

  1. Collaborative working within your team
  2. Personal & professional networks & communities
  3. General conversations and meetings with people

It’s all about conversations.

But in too many organizations, the major obstacle is that teams are distributed, either geographically or in time; or people are too busy to have meaningful conversations. This is why narration of work is so important. It’s the only way that others will have the slightest clue about what you are doing. If they don’t, why would they want to continue working with you?

So let’s talk about work, in meaningful ways. If work is not worth discussing, why bother doing it?

One Response to “It's all about conversations”

  1. Augusto Cuginotti (@acuginotti)

    Harold, I would go as far as saying that today ‘narration is work’. It seems to me that is more about allowing spaces and structures so all this can be shared and collective meaning can emerge.

    Since conversational practices have started replacing manual labour as the latter was replaced by automatic processes (in a way that you pointed in another article), conversation is our main work in organisations.
    All Jane Hart’s points are about people narrating their work. Conversation is today’s work. We ‘narrate our work’ because, if we didn’t, we would not be working.

    So narration is there, but perhaps not always addressing the collective and certainly not shared as well as it could be.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.


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