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The Art of Focused Conversation: 100 Ways to Access Group Wisdom in the Workplace (ICA series) Paperback – April 1, 2000


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The Art of Focused Conversation: 100 Ways to Access Group Wisdom in the Workplace (ICA series) + The Workshop Book: From Individual Creativity to Group Action (ICA series)
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Product Details

  • Series: ICA series
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers (April 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865714169
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865714168
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

This book is absolutely fabulous...I love this book. -- Margaret Runchey, Editor, IAF Facilitator's News, Palm Springs, Florida

About the Author

Produced by the Institute for Cultural Affairs (ICA) in Canada, the book was edited by R Brian Stanfield, its Director of Publications. A non-profit with a presence in 48 countries, the ICA has worked for 45 years in organisational development, adult and child education, community development, and methods of social change.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
While the ORID method is reviewed here, it's presented in an easy to follow, pratical approach.
mommie2
In the 21st century, those workplaces that share information to create value for themselves and their customers have a competitive advantage.
Les Lauber
The book has helped me to re-think the types and the order of questions that I address to a group.
David H. Wilkinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By David H. Wilkinson on December 4, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brian Stanfield and colleagues have written a meaningful book that provides a profound, yet simple method to help groups effectively grapple and address any kind of issue.
In the book, they say, "For whole systems to operate effectively, information must flow in every direction, up, down, sideways, and diagonally." They go on to describe leaders as askers of questions and state that "the participatory principle requires the art of asking questions."
Canada's Institute of Cultural Affairs developed the focused conversation method as part of its Technology of Participation, which leads people through certain phases of reflection, enabling them to process their experiences as a group. A leader/facilitator asks a series of questions to elicit responses that take a group from the "surface of a topic to a topic to its depth implications for their life and work."
The focused conversation uses questions at four levels:
1. The Objective Level- questions about facts and external reality. 2. The Reflective Level - questions to call forth immediate personal reaction to the data, an internal response, sometimes emotions or feelings, hidden images and associations with the facts, when we encounter an external reality (data/objective) we experience an internal response. 3. The Interpretive Level - questions to draw out meaning, values, significance, and implications. 4. The Decisional Level - questions to elicit resolution, bring the conversation to close, and enable the group to resolve about the future.
The first third portion of the book provides an understanding of the concept of focused conversation and is followed by 100 meeting topics with specific examples of questions at the four levels that would be appropriate.
The book has helped me to re-think the types and the order of questions that I address to a group.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Les Lauber on November 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
I like books that are practical and have real-world application. This book does that. You get 48 pages of enough explanation that you can learn how to use the Focused Conversation model. Then, you get the skeleton of 100 conversations that you can adapt and use. If you want to know more, read on.

In the 21st century, those workplaces that share information to create value for themselves and their customers have a competitive advantage. On page 14 Stanfield writes "These days most people are tired of blaiming and demanding; they want to solve problems. They want to go beyond input to push an innovation through and take responsibility for making the desired change." The focused conversation model is a technique for capturing the wisdom of a group and helping it become accountable for doing more than complaining or "giving input."

The model's four parts consist of asking and answering questions. The questions at the "objective" level begin to uncover facts about the topic being discussed. The "reflective" questions uncover how the group is relating to the facts discussed in the objective level. The "interpretive" level allows the groups to discuss implications and options. The "decisional" level then creates action based on the discussion. This book also contains hints and guidelines for leading focused conversations: what to do when someone gives a long answer, or when people start arguing, or when someone dominates teh conversation...and more.

I've used several dozen of the 100 conversations in various work settings. I have gotten especially good value from the conversations on evaluating a seminar, planning a study group, coaching a colleague, mediating a difficult situation, reflecting on a choatic meeting...well, you get the idea.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ultimately conversations are the working process of most leadership. This book expands upon the conversation techniques presented in "Winning Through Participation". The model is simple and useful. When distilled down, a focused conversation proceeds through four stages:
- objective / data
- reactional / feeling
- interpretive / meaning and
- decisional / action.
The model takes about 50 pages to explain and is followed by about 150 pages of examples of its application. Many will find that the 10 pages in "Winning Through Participation" had enough information to get going.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joyce on September 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book explores the use of a particular conversation format in the workplace, but it is adaptable to any group. If you are interested in community or involved in any groups, no process is more valuable than this one. This book tells the history of the creation of this method, explains its purpose and its parts, tells how to lead such a conversation, and offers 100 sample conversations for specific situations. The purpose of such a conversation is to allow a group of people to process their experience (to experience their experience, so to speak) by asking a series of questions in four different levels: the objective, the reflective, the interpretive and the decisional. This conversation gives form to a natural process which 1) grounds us first in the reality of life, 2) acknowledges the reality of our feelings, 3) looks at meaning based on the first two steps, not on some abstract idea, and 4) moves us into the future from the wisdom just discovered. This is a book of practical inspiration.
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