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Dialogue Mapping: Building Shared Understanding of Wicked Problems Paperback – November 18, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0470017685 ISBN-10: 0470017686 Edition: 1st

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Dialogue Mapping: Building Shared Understanding of Wicked Problems + The Heretic's Guide to Best Practices: The Reality of Managing Complex Problems in Organisations + Mapping Dialogue: Essential Tools for Social Change (Taos Tempo)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (November 18, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470017686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470017685
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #454,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Dialogue mapping reflects a new approach to meetings and collaboration, in which collective intelligence is achieved through framing powerful questions and rigorous and systematic exploration of their possible answers.  A key insight of this approach is that shared display of the dialogue map promotes shared understanding of and commitment to the collective result.

In the first part of Dialogue Mapping, Jeffrey Conklin introduces the key concepts:

  • Wicked problems: for which you don’t really understand the problem until a solution has been formulated.
  • Social complexity: the large number and wide diversity of stakeholders whose participation is essential to a robust outcome.
  • Opportunity-driven problem solving: intelligent thinking is not linear!  Creative cognition naturally jumps all over the problem-solution space.
  • Shared understanding: the most expedient means for overcoming fragmentation is forging shared understanding of all aspects of the problem-solution space.

The remaining sections provide a hands-on tutorial for practitioners looking for a radically inclusive approach to collective problem solving. 

"This is an excellent guide for all those interested in durable collaborative solutions in our increasingly tough business climates today."
—John C. Mitchell, former President, Business Printer Division, Lexmark International, Inc.

"Jeff Conklin pioneered this field, showing the connection between conversations (dialogue) and solving wicked problems.  His ideas are intellectually rewarding and, just as important, are tried and tested."
—Mark Addleson, Director, Organizational Learning Program, George Mason University.

"What Jeff has in this book is of powerfully basic importance to improving our Collective-IQ, and thus, in my view, to helping significantly change our world to be a better place."
—Douglas Engelbart, Director of Bootstrap Institute

About the Author

Jeffrey Conklin is a lifelong student of organizational communication and collaboration, and the tools that support them.  As Director of CogNexus Institute he remains active as a practitioner of dialogue mapping, although his main joy is teaching dialogue mapping as the art and science of creating shared understanding.

More About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Conklin has over two decades of experience and an international reputation in the fields of hypertext and collaborative technology research, and years of professional experience as a facilitator, consultant, and teacher. Dr. Conklin is perhaps best known for his work with the Issue Based Information System (IBIS) method and extensions of it, such as research tools ("gIBIS") and commercial products ("CM/1'", "QuestMap'") that support IBIS. He is advisor to the Compendium Institute, which distributes the open source Compendium mapping tool, and Director of CogNexus Institute (http://cognexus.org ).

Dr. Conklin also developed the Dialogue Mapping facilitation technique, a radically inclusive approach to knowledge management that allows groups to capture and make sense of unstructured knowledge during project meetings. Dr. Conklin has taught Dialogue Mapping to hundreds and hundreds of people all over the world. He has facilitated thousands of meetings, with such clients as the World Bank, the United Nations, the US House of Representatives, the City of Washington DC, NASA, FAA, the General Services Administration (GSA), as well as Southern California Edison, AOL, Verizon, AOPA, Doug Engelbart's Bootstrap Alliance, and other high-tech organizations.

Dr. Conklin's research on collaborative and facilitation technologies has been published in numerous academic journals and conferences. His book about this work, Dialogue Mapping: Creating Shared Understanding of Wicked Problems, has just been published by John Wiley and Sons (http://cognexus.org/dm_book.htm ).

Customer Reviews

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I would highly recommend this work to anyone who works with groups.
Michael T. Clark
Dialogue Mapping is a highly effective way to help groups enter a state of "flow", analogous to a sports team entering the "zone" of outstanding performance.
R. Zubizarreta
The author shares a wealth of experience and sets the reader to suceed with practical advice.
Martin Solano

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By R. Zubizarreta on February 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
Imagine a world in which most meetings are rich, stimulating, effective gatherings that we actually look forward to attending.... Sure, it sounds far-fetched! But that possibility is already here today, and that's what Dr. Jeff Conklin's book is about.

This book is NOT about how to "herd cats", nor is it about learning to "control people better". In fact, it's just the opposite... it's about encouraging each person's creativity through a process where each and every point of view, no matter how difficult or "contrarian", ends up adding value to the larger "map" of the conversation that is being created.

Based on my experience with Dialogue Mapping, I recommend this book highly as an exciting breakthrough for anyone wanting to develop highly-functioning work teams, group synergy, and collective intelligence. Since this process is specifically designed to help groups address "wicked problems", it is particularly relevant for those of us who are tackling the complex social issues that are at the heart of public participation and deliberative democracy projects.

While the principles described in the book can be applied with chart paper and markers, the value of this approach is greatly enhanced by the powerful and easy-to-use software that Dr. Conklin and his colleagues have developed. Compendium allows the facilitator to track, manage, organize, and display all of the various perspectives and considerations that emerge in a group during the Dialogue Mapping process. This high-powered program has been designed as open-source shareware, and is available freely through a link on Dr. Conklin's website to the Compendium Institute.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nick Papadopoulos on March 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read this book recently and my facilitation and project management efforts have improved as a result.

Some of the key subjects/topic areas that jumped out of this book for me are:

-- Practicing the listening cycle, especially the sub-section of the book that discusses validating information.

-- Learning to ask the 7 questions and in particular using these questions as a lens to assess the health of a collaborative effort

-- Helping me better understand the meaning of shared understanding
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael Knowles on January 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
At last Dr. Conklin has done it: Given those of us who have been using Dialogue Mapping in our consulting practices a definitive, well-written manual on how to develop and extend our expertise. The tool itself is not only indispensable: It reflects a way of thinking about problems that engenders shared inquiry.

Shared inquiry is all about the power of inclusion, and inclusion is a key component of corporate internal communication. Companies that practice inclusive problem solving consistently not only outperform other companies in the same industry, but tend to be the most enjoyable places to work!

Recent studies by Watson Wyatt and others point to the quality of internal communication as a leading indicator of corporate financial performance. In my experience, Dialogue Mapping is a technique that has helped focus my clients on identifying and eliminating the roadblocks to real business success.

If you are struggling with wicked problems and attempting to work through difficult obstacles with limited success, you need to learn Dialogue Mapping. Stop what you're doing right now and buy this book. It is absolutely indispensable.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Park on January 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Full disclosure, I read this book while it was still a manuscript in preparation. I liked how it was taking form then, and I am most pleased with how it has turned out. I have used the methods described in this book in classroom settings, both with teachers, and with students. In the student case, we used dialog mapping to layout a course in Java programming; students offering their ideas and dreams, realizing the outcome in a course outline. With teachers, the task was to facilitate teachers coming to grips with so-called "constructivist" methods in the classroom. Dialog mapping, it turns out, is about as "constructivist" as you can get. Jeff does a great job outlining these methods, complete with enough background theory, lightly stated. Readers of this book together with the free software that assists in the facilitation process ( found at [...] ) will soon find that this process is valuable, both in group facilitation, and in sorting out personal issues as well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael T. Clark on July 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a book that I wish that I had been able to read 20 years ago. In my work with groups I have always appreciated the art of facilitation. However, the process and the endpoints of group diaglogue have often been less than clear.

Jeff Conklin provides an excellent framework as well as some very accessible and useful tools in approaching the complex challenge of promoting effective dialogue within groups. He makes a persuasive case for Dialogue Mapping and then clearly outlines its use in a manner that is clear and compelling.

I would highly recommend this work to anyone who works with groups.
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