Saturday, May 29, 2010

Let's Get Talking

The Shaklee Family Toastmasters Club celebrated their tenth anniversary today and I went to their Anniversary & Installation Nite. Nine tables in total, with good attendance from their members, other Toastmasters and even non-Toastmasters guests. It’s great to know that my friend, Vincent Soon is the incoming Vice President Public Relations 2010-2011. And there are also the familiar faces that came to this bash: SK Ratnam, Emil, Jamila, Choi San, Zaharah, Francis Ng, Ramdas and others. Not forgetting our District 51 Governor, Ritchie Chong came too. And what’s more, a band was playing and I found out that they were students from ICOM (the music college I was working for before I joined HICT).

I was reading today’s Star and came across this interesting article titled “Let’s get talking”. There’s this growing belief today that the most widespread and pervasive learning in an organization doesn’t happen in a training room, conference room or boardroom, but in the hallway, by the water cooler or at the hawker stall across the street.

Alan Webber wrote about the importance of conversations in his Harvard Business Review article: “The most important work in the knowledge economy is conversation”. Where information is the raw material and ideas are the currency of exchange, he explains, good conversations become the crucible in which knowledge workers share and refine their thinking in order to create value-added products and services.

Most organizations don’t think this way. There is still a subtle expectation for leaders to tell everyone what they need to know in a formal meeting and view other conversations as idle time.
It is not unusual to hear a leader say, “stop talking and get back to work”. The underlying belief is that conversation takes time away from the more “important” work of the organization.

According to Matt Rawlins (The Star, Metro Central, May 29, 2010, p 1), research on communication has discovered that talking – the network of conversations – actually catalyzes action. Healthy conversations are vital for good performance in the long run.

We could say that an organization is nothing more than an ongoing conversation among those who have agreed to work in a common direction. The growth, health and maturity of the organization could then be gauged by the quality of the conversations going on in it.

With this in mind, a leader’s responsibility is to develop core processes and infrastructure that facilitates and develops the capacity of those in the organization to have healthy conversations. Besides, the art of conversation is a skill shared by most successful people.
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Now this should be a good topic for conversation!

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