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The Lexicon of Dialogue and Deliberation
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Leah Lamb

Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 25
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:05 am?? ?Post subject: The Lexicon of Dialogue and Deliberation Reply with quote??? ???

Greetings! The following comments were made over the NCDD listserve iwhen the following question was posed:
I have been pondering about how we can actively make
the D&D lexicon more familiar to the greater public?

I am curious to learn about how those of you on the listserv approach describing the fields of D&D, and more specifically, how you address the complexity of the wide range of definitions and practice.

Lisa Heft responded:

I just use the term 'dialogue' which seems to communicate universally.

I don't use the 'and deliberation' at all, as it seems to not
communicate to all kinds of folks (both English and non-English-speaking, from academic and non-academic cultures, and so
on).

When I introduce myself I say I am a 'facilitator and are you familiar
with that job title?' - and if someone is not, I say something like 'we
are the people who help groups communicate for mutual understanding or more efficient task work, bringing people together to pool their knowledge and experience across disciplines, organizational roles and cultures'.

I don't talk methods or practices when I first talk with potential
clients (unless they contact me for a specific method they've
experienced such as Open Space") - instead I talk about their need,
their hoped-for objectives, and some deliverables that might be
possible. Later we can get into the whole 'here's a method I'm thinking
of using' conversation. I find that so many people don't really want to
talk about method and process at first but instead want to hear the
stories of situations like theirs and about what has worked.

I'm interested in hearing what others do,

Lisa Heft
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Leah Lamb

Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 25
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:06 am?? ?Post subject: Reply with quote??? ???

I too find that talking about specific processes or names can be
confusing and sometimes can feel irrelevant to people. At the same
time, I think it is important (if we think we have something unique to
offer) to actually use the terms of of practice. I guess I think part
of our job is to give people words that relate to an experience, so
they can try out the words. I also think that it is better to describe
what the goals and process and outcomes are, rather than use a bunch of
jargon.

I talk about dialogue as being "a way to share our experiences, listen
to other people's stories, and have a deeper conversation about things
that really matter." We can all remember having lots of superficial
conversations (because of fear, or annoyance, or uncertainty etc.) -
and most of us, i suspect, have also been a part of a conversation or
dialogue that really got to the things that mattered to us. Calling on
those experiences seems helpful to me.

Katie Howard
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Leah Lamb

Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 25
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:06 am?? ?Post subject: Reply with quote??? ???

I say something like, "Ways to bring large groups of highly diverse
people together to produce effective results." I try to avoid jargon
or names of methodologies and rather describe what we can accomplish.

--Kenoli
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Leah Lamb

Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 25
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:07 am?? ?Post subject: Reply with quote??? ???

Just one tiny comment: In one of the many messages that have flown back and forth through the list these past 2 days, I saw the statement from Lisa--"I just use the term 'dialogue' which seems to communicate universally. "

My experience is that, like any word that we feel communicates universally, everyone has their own, unique understanding of what dialogue is, and even within our community of practitioners, there are many understandings of what dialogue is, what it is not, what it is and is not useful for, when we are "in dialogue" and when we are not, and so on.

I believe we have come to use the word "dialogue" in so many different ways and settings and contexts, that it has lost its meaning and become a fuzzy, feel-good word for us and possibly obscure for others. I wonder if it ever had the kind of crisp definition that we think would help those outside our field understand what we mean when we use it, and I applaud any efforts to clarify the terminology that we use among ourselves.

I hope if we do find ways to differentiate between and among all the words we use, we can attach them to combinations of outcomes and processes, that we can anchor our definitions in ways that can stand up to some "visual inspection" or experiential distinction.

Helen


Helen Spector
Spector & Associates
Organizational Process Consulting
3432 Camanoe Lane
Alameda CA 94502
510-522-5854 voice
510-522-8670 fax
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Leah Lamb

Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 25
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:08 am?? ?Post subject: Reply with quote??? ???

I say something like the following, depending on the situation. (See
also #4 below.)

There are many new ways of talking and working together that we are
beginning to figure out that really do work to bring people together
that you would never imagine could even talk to each other let alone
reach agreements on important issues.. For example, in regions where
developers and environmentalists are at each other's throats, or
conservatives and liberals are pointing fingers, we have found that
using these techniques, people are able to come to unexpected
solutions that meet everyone's needs. I know of a community in
Oakland that was so dangerous even fire trucks would not go into it
without a police escort. Some police and community leaders got
training in one of these techniques and spread it thru their
community in a relatively short tiem. In five years, now, they
haven't had a single homicide."


BACKGROUND DISCUSSION

That's one of the reasons NCDD is now writing a short "Toolkit" to
introduce key concepts to the general public, using language that will
reach them.

Along with this, however, as I see it, we actually have a couple of
different jobs (though the rest of this may go well beyond what you
asked, I think.)

(1) One, fundamental to all the others, is to develop tight, precise,
reasonably consistent terms to use among "professionals", researchers,
etc. that, in effect, define the discipline(s). [See UNDERLYING LOGIC,
below]

(2) Given that "Underlying Logic" (as I call it), we can then (or also)
find/define "user friendly" terms to convey the basics to those new to
the field, or at least new to our way of talking about it. These can be
used in the Toolkit and in many places on the NCDD site and at the
conferences, and/or at other conferences where we promote these
practices. Excerpts from it might help answer the questions your being
asked.

(3) For different "Fields of Practice" (or "streams of practice" as
Sandy calls them) , people can map their own familiar terms onto this
"underlying logic" and/or define equivalencies ("synonyms" that cut
across the different fields). These different lexicons would reflect not
only differences in labels and emphasis that have grown up in different
traditions, but also different contexts of use and different categories
of potential users of D&D (e.g. "public officials" vs. "grassroots
activists"). We'd map synonyms or equivalences as fully as possible.
[Whose "WE", by the way? Well, given maybe an initial structure, it
would be "wiki work" that we all contribute to--or discussions on forums
in the different fields.]

(4) Organize the knowledge, and language, more around what kinds of
problems and situations this is good for,than around the tools or
methods themselves (as other respondents to this email have in effect
suggested. I look forward to our having the conceptual underpinnings
that will make it easier to organize the NCDD website this way as well,
around problems/solutions, etc., i.e. "use contexts".

Someone may not know or care about the differences between a discussion,
a dialogue or a deliberation (initially at least), but care a whole lot
about "participatory democracy" or "collaboratiave decision-making". Or
they may just know they've got a problem (or a vision): "I want to get
the voters in my town involved a lot earlier in solving problems; I want
them to understand the hard choices I have to make when there is no
money, and get them to help take some responsibility for those
decisions" or "I want the elected officials in this town to take us--we
the people--seriously!!! Right now our "store" welcomes only
professional carpenters looking for "tools". We need a store that helps
the "do it yourselfer" or "someone needing a good contractor" to find
what they need also--to see models of what our "constructs" look like in
practice, or find the aisle labeled "gardening", or the "catalogue" that
shows our "products and services"--

But cataloguing (or the yellow pages) ALWAYS suffer from this
"terminology" problem. They solve it in part by a lot of cross-indexing
and "teaching in context" how to look up a needed service.

For what it is worth, there are the tools that "ontologists" working in
the software industry use to comb through a lot of documents in a field
finding key words and overlaps in meanings. Much money is spent on this
exercise, because all software interfaces with users through
"words"--and icons (visual metaphors) that simply MUST map to the
familiar universe of the users (while also retaining an underlying
rigor!)--or else the software is doomed. MAYBE we could get some help
from that quarter, though I don't know yet.

*Anyhow, we can make good use of any answers you've got out there. And,
if any of you display too much interest taxonomic work--such as having
read this long email to this point--look out! We'll be on the look out
for you, asking for help.[Oh, and theres a little more, a P.S., after my
name] Oh, and IF ANY OF YOU KNOW OF OTHERS WORKING ON THIS, PLEASE LET
ME KNOW. Thanks!


Dr. Nancy Glock-Grueneich
President, HIGHER EDge
3085A Carriker Lane www.higheredge.org
Soquel, CA 95073 831-462-3419
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Leah Lamb

Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 25
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:10 am?? ?Post subject: Reply with quote??? ???

Discussion: definition of terms:

UNDERLYING LOGIC of what we are doing: comprehensive, coherent, and consistent vocabulary. Encompasses all /fields of practice/. Makes
essential distinctions and allows us to talk about them for the purposes
of theory, research, and knowledge management. It works under the surface.

We need a* glossary *of key terms that constitute the formal discipline (or sub-discipline or inter-discipline). [‚?€?œGlossary
‚?€? according to Tom Wason, an ontologist, is a list of terms with *single* definitions with respect to a particular domain. "[A] collection of ... specialized terms with their meanings".* Contrast with dictionary, thesaurus and authority list .]

The point here is that we would not be simply trying to collect how
others are using given terms, from a variety of sources, but would be
seeking a COHERENT SET of terms, "specialized" in that we had defined them to work together in an overall construct.

I see this glossary as essential define fundamental elements and
relationships in a formal construct that cuts across, underlies and/or
makes sense of the relationships among all fields of practice, settings
etc. in which conscious social design and intentional or purposeful
social practice have critical relevance.

FIELDS OF PRACTICE would be made up of a subset of situations, and each would have its own terminology, familiar to those in that field or using the services of those in that field, and mapped onto the /underlying logic./

Ability of people working from within any given field to both find what
they need in terms as familiar to them as possible, while aiding them in better understanding their own field as a whole AND its relationship to similar or interconnected fields of practice so that the larger systemsare also understood.

Dr. Nancy Glock-Grueneich
President, HIGHER EDge
3085A Carriker Lane www.higheredge.org
Soquel, CA 95073 831-462-3419
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Leah Lamb

Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 25
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:10 am?? ?Post subject: Reply with quote??? ???

.. . We are in a field that struggles to maintain a balance between our individual and collective emotional and the intellectual halves. We are driven to make a difference in our communities (and thereby the world) by our heart and so we ‚?€?œjust want to get busy‚?€?. However, we realize that it takes an intentionality guided by our head to get us there. Often we hate to ‚?€?œwaste time‚?€? on the intentional because that means we are not ‚?€?œdoing something real‚?€?. The paradox is that the more we are intentional the more we are able to be creative. Think about all the memorization of the community/organization dynamic info you railed against until the moment you knew it so well that you experience a group‚?€?™s rolling wave of ‚?€?œaha‚?€? moments you were able to creatively facilitate because of the structure that had been imposed on you. Creating a clear and universal lexicon for dialogue, deliberation, and decision making is an echo of that earlier process. As with others here, my practice framework is the facilitation model developed by the Cultural Affairs Institute. So my prejudice is that we rely on their good work. Having said that, I am probably the individual with the least knowledge of D & D commenting here so I reserve the right to say, ‚?€?œboy was I wrong‚?€?.

Yours in Peace,
Sam Lane
Growth Facilitator
Organizational Synapse, LLC
www.dreamsachieved.com
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leilanihenry

Joined: 26 Aug 2005
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:01 pm?? ?Post subject: lexicon Reply with quote??? ???

I like the intention idea brought in by Sam. AND all of the comments regarding what others say is very interesting. Lisa's idea of looking for outcomes really resonates.

some things I say are "tapping into the collective wisdom" of a group; "revealing unspoken thoughts and feelings to come to common understanding in order to move forward with clarity"; "a high quality way to brainstorm, share insights or uncover what has not yet been revealed to a group by having powerful conversation that allows important elements to surface."

my approach is to get people in the conversation as soon as possible, rather than finding the perfect tool to use.
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