The following section describes reflective practices and as well as methods and facilitation skills that support an implementation of the approach described above. These include Peter Block’s Six Elements of a Conversation, Juanita Brown’s World Café methods, tools from William Isaac’s book Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together and others, which are all efforts to create the conditions for genuine dialogue to emerge within a group and the associated benefits of stronger relationships, wiser and more sustainable outcomes, and deeper commitment for their implementation.

These practices and methods are interdependent and mutually supporting. For example, articulating a clear invitation and purpose also helps ensure the right people are in the room and supports a strong container in which the group can gather.

Be Intentional About Who is in the Room

Peter Block puts forth that there are specific criteria to consider when determining who gathers in a conversation (Block, 2018; Golub, 2018). This aspect of dialogue practice is closely linked to the thinking that goes into developing strategic engagement plans that will be described in more detail in later modules on engagement and partnerships. These criteria are:

  • An ability to speak about the consequences because they will be directly impacted by the outcome,
  • Unique information, expertise, or perspective about the topics that are being discussed
  • The power to make decisions, and
  • Time, money, contacts, and other resources.

Articulate a Clear Invitation and Purpose

This practice can look like an invitation in which the why is clearly articulated. Why are we meeting? What is our purpose? What can we do together that we can’t do alone? It’s also important to reaffirm this purpose at the outset of the meeting and to check for alignment and/or difference in participants’ view on the purpose of the gathering.