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Dialogue Mapping: Building Shared Understanding of Wicked Problems Paperback – 27 Dec 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (27 Dec. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470017686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470017685
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 672,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Dialogue mapping reflects a new approach to meetings and collaboration, in which collective intelligence is achieved through framing powerful questions and rigorous and systematic exploration of their possible answers.  A key insight of this approach is that shared display of the dialogue map promotes shared understanding of and commitment to the collective result.

In the first part of Dialogue Mapping, Jeffrey Conklin introduces the key concepts:

  • Wicked problems: for which you don t really understand the problem until a solution has been formulated.
  • Social complexity: the large number and wide diversity of stakeholders whose participation is essential to a robust outcome.
  • Opportunity–driven problem solving: intelligent thinking is not linear!  Creative cognition naturally jumps all over the problem–solution space.
  • Shared understanding: the most expedient means for overcoming fragmentation is forging shared understanding of all aspects of the problem–solution space.

The remaining sections provide a hands–on tutorial for practitioners looking for a radically inclusive approach to collective problem solving. 

"This is an excellent guide for all those interested in durable collaborative solutions in our increasingly tough business climates today."
John C. Mitchell, former President, Business Printer Division, Lexmark International, Inc.

"Jeff Conklin pioneered this field, showing the connection between conversations (dialogue) and solving wicked problems.  His ideas are intellectually rewarding and, just as important, are tried and tested."
Mark Addleson, Director, Organizational Learning Program, George Mason University.

"What Jeff has in this book is of powerfully basic importance to improving our Collective–IQ, and thus, in my view, to helping significantly change our world to be a better place."
Douglas Engelbart, Director of Bootstrap Institute

About the Author

Jeffrey Conklin is a lifelong student of organizational communication and collaboration, and the tools that support them.  As Director of CogNexus Institute he remains active as a practitioner of dialogue mapping, although his main joy is teaching dialogue mapping as the art and science of creating shared understanding.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
This book is about building collective intelligence: the creativity and resourcefulness that a group or team can bring to a complex and novel problem. Read the first page
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By S. Buckingham Shum on 29 Nov. 2005
Format: Paperback
At last, we have in a hands-on, practitioner format the art, science and craft of Dialogue Mapping. Having been a practitioner of the approach myself for 5 years or so, I know first hand that it works as a tool to add value to a meeting, but also capture some of that collective intelligence as a group memory.
I warmly recommend this book if you are intruiged by an approach to tackling real world "wicked problems", which sits at the intersection of meeting facilitation, collective intelligence, organizational memory/design rationale, participatory design and collaborative modelling.
To get visionary for a moment, fundamentally what I think Jeff Conklin is pointing us to is a new form of literacy for the 21st Century, which one day, our children will be learning age 5: how to think in a connected, multimedia, socially responsible way about tough problems... how to ask incisive questions, surface assumptions, explore alternatives, and make decisions which take on board not only 'hard facts', but the social, organisational and ethical dimensions that pervade any serious issue today.
Dr Simon Buckingham Shum
Senior Lecturer, Knowledge Media Institute
The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By SLJ Johnson on 31 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Then this book provides a lot of insights into how to get the best out of the groups and stakeholders you'll be working with through the power of dialogue mapping.

Buy it

read it

Be better
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Imagine a world filled with GREAT meetings... 14 Feb. 2006
By R. Zubizarreta - Published on
Format: Paperback
Imagine a world in which most meetings are rich, stimulating, effective gatherings that we actually look forward to attending.... Sure, it sounds far-fetched! But that possibility is already here today, and that's what Dr. Jeff Conklin's book is about.

This book is NOT about how to "herd cats", nor is it about learning to "control people better". In fact, it's just the opposite... it's about encouraging each person's creativity through a process where each and every point of view, no matter how difficult or "contrarian", ends up adding value to the larger "map" of the conversation that is being created.

Based on my experience with Dialogue Mapping, I recommend this book highly as an exciting breakthrough for anyone wanting to develop highly-functioning work teams, group synergy, and collective intelligence. Since this process is specifically designed to help groups address "wicked problems", it is particularly relevant for those of us who are tackling the complex social issues that are at the heart of public participation and deliberative democracy projects.

While the principles described in the book can be applied with chart paper and markers, the value of this approach is greatly enhanced by the powerful and easy-to-use software that Dr. Conklin and his colleagues have developed. Compendium allows the facilitator to track, manage, organize, and display all of the various perspectives and considerations that emerge in a group during the Dialogue Mapping process. This high-powered program has been designed as open-source shareware, and is available freely through a link on Dr. Conklin's website to the Compendium Institute.

We need only to look at the wide array of technologies that are available in our world today to realize that, as a species, we are amazingly creative and capable. It's high time that we applied our capacities to enhancing our human interactions with one another! Dialogue Mapping is a highly effective way to help groups enter a state of "flow", analogous to a sports team entering the "zone" of outstanding performance. As such, it is a real cause for celebration.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Review of Dialogue Mapping 17 Mar. 2006
By Nick Papadopoulos - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read this book recently and my facilitation and project management efforts have improved as a result.

Some of the key subjects/topic areas that jumped out of this book for me are:

-- Practicing the listening cycle, especially the sub-section of the book that discusses validating information.

-- Learning to ask the 7 questions and in particular using these questions as a lens to assess the health of a collaborative effort

-- Helping me better understand the meaning of shared understanding
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Struggling to Solve Difficult Business Problems? Buy this book! 14 Jan. 2006
By Michael Knowles - Published on
Format: Paperback
At last Dr. Conklin has done it: Given those of us who have been using Dialogue Mapping in our consulting practices a definitive, well-written manual on how to develop and extend our expertise. The tool itself is not only indispensable: It reflects a way of thinking about problems that engenders shared inquiry.

Shared inquiry is all about the power of inclusion, and inclusion is a key component of corporate internal communication. Companies that practice inclusive problem solving consistently not only outperform other companies in the same industry, but tend to be the most enjoyable places to work!

Recent studies by Watson Wyatt and others point to the quality of internal communication as a leading indicator of corporate financial performance. In my experience, Dialogue Mapping is a technique that has helped focus my clients on identifying and eliminating the roadblocks to real business success.

If you are struggling with wicked problems and attempting to work through difficult obstacles with limited success, you need to learn Dialogue Mapping. Stop what you're doing right now and buy this book. It is absolutely indispensable.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Wicked problems abound; Dialog Mapping is valuable 13 Jan. 2006
By J. Park - Published on
Format: Paperback
Full disclosure, I read this book while it was still a manuscript in preparation. I liked how it was taking form then, and I am most pleased with how it has turned out. I have used the methods described in this book in classroom settings, both with teachers, and with students. In the student case, we used dialog mapping to layout a course in Java programming; students offering their ideas and dreams, realizing the outcome in a course outline. With teachers, the task was to facilitate teachers coming to grips with so-called "constructivist" methods in the classroom. Dialog mapping, it turns out, is about as "constructivist" as you can get. Jeff does a great job outlining these methods, complete with enough background theory, lightly stated. Readers of this book together with the free software that assists in the facilitation process ( found at [...] ) will soon find that this process is valuable, both in group facilitation, and in sorting out personal issues as well.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
the marriage of group thinking, reflection and action 29 July 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a book that I wish that I had been able to read 20 years ago. In my work with groups I have always appreciated the art of facilitation. However, the process and the endpoints of group diaglogue have often been less than clear.

Jeff Conklin provides an excellent framework as well as some very accessible and useful tools in approaching the complex challenge of promoting effective dialogue within groups. He makes a persuasive case for Dialogue Mapping and then clearly outlines its use in a manner that is clear and compelling.

I would highly recommend this work to anyone who works with groups.
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