“An organisation’s results are determined through webs of human commitments, born in webs of human conversations.” – Fernando Flores
I love this quote because it says to me that the kinds of organisations we create and the way they perform are based on the conversations we have at work. During these conversations we debate issues, agree courses of action, make promises, commitments, agree to deadlines and so on.
Leaders can shape the conversations by talking about what’s going on around the business and what’s coming up. To gain commitment they need to lead conversations that share opportunities and issues and invite people to contribute to the responses.
But one leader or one leadership team cannot do this with everyone. We need to find ways to create these conversations throughout the business. So every manager is able to converse about opportunities and issues relevant to the team, and link these conversations with company-wide issues and initiatives across department silos.
Organisations that foster a conversation culture can expect a more engaged workforce that has the confidence to highlight concerns and opportunities. People understand and respond to conversation in a way they don’t to balanced scorecards and performance targets.
This is because conversations reflect our reality; real life isn’t about a formal sit-down, PowerPoint presentations and metrics analysis. Real life and real work is about the promises we tacitly make in conversation, and the decisions we explicitly commit to. Promises are made through conversation – it’s as simple, and as powerful, as that.