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.