Date: Tue, 02 Jan 1996

From: Mary Margaret Palmer

Subject: Re: Dialogue


From: Richard Scott <>


My company has been using the dialogoue process in a leadership training

for a major telecommunications company for the past two years with

execellent results.


The training is a four day program of which one day is devoted to what we

refer to as the dialogue/discussion process in the context of real time

issues facing the company and the training participants. We find a good

mixture of experiential problem-solving activities, real time issues, and

dialogue/discussion processes make for a very successful training.



From: Dutch Driver <>


| AUTHOR: Bohm, David.

| TITLE: On dialogue /

| PLACE: Ojai, CA :

| PUBLISHER: David Bohm Seminars,

| YEAR: 1990

| PUB TYPE: Book

| FORMAT: 41 p. ; 22 cm.

| NOTES: "...edited from the transcription of a meeting...November 6,

| 1989, in Ojai, California, following a weekend seminar given by

| Professor Bohm.  Additional material on dialogue has been taken

| from other of Dr. Bohm's seminars.  The final manuscript was

| edited by Dr. Bohm."

| "Transcription and editing: Phildea Fleming, James Brodsky."

| SUBJECT: Dialogue analysis.

| Dialogue.



From: Orbis <>


Here is a good article:


Taking flight: Dialogue, collective thinking, and

  organizational learning

 Authors:     Isaacs, William N

 Journal:     Organizational Dynamics (ORD)  ISSN: 0090-2616

              Vol: 22  Iss: 2  Date: Autumn 1993  p: 24-39


Abstract:    Experience with the discipline of dialogue suggests that there

is a new horizon opening up for the field of management and organizational

learning.  Dialogue can be initially defined as a sustained collective

inquiry into the processes, assumptions, and certainties that compose

everyday experience.  Dialogue is an advance on double-loop learning

processes and represents triple-loop learning.  This field suggests a new

range of skills for managers that involve learning how to set up

environments or fields in which learning can take place.  This discipline

stresses the power of collective observation of patterns of collective

thought that typically speed by people or influence their behavior without

them    noticing.


Dialogue is an emerging and potentially powerful mode of inquiry and

collective learning for teams.  It balances more structured problem-solving

approaches with the exploration of fundamental habits of attention and

assumption behind traditional problems of thinking.


Also, there are dialogue references in "The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook,"

(Currency Doubleday) and  "Mr. Learning Organization," Fortune 10/17/94.


A consulting org. that trains folks in dialogue is:


Action Design in Newton Mass.


The folks there are all "disciples" of Chris Argyris, whose writing covers

dialogue-type stuff, but  he does not use that name.



From: Lansing Bicknell <bicknell>


I particpated in the begining's of the Dialogue project via MIT back in

'91-92.  I believe the Dialogue Project has become it's own entity,

focusing on developing and extending Bohm's original model of dialogue.

I am sure Pegasus communications can put you in touch with the Dialogue

Project directly. However, another good source book to read by David Bohm

and Mark Edwards is called "Changing Consciousness: Exploring the Hidden

Source of Social, Political and Environmental Crises Facing our Wrorld",

Harper Collins, San Francisco, 1991.  This book is a dialogue between Bohm

and Edwards (a social photographer whose work is part of the book) about

the nature of thought and the role fragmented thinking has in creating the

world we live in today.  The last chapter is especially powerful.  Another

article that's good is "The Emergence of Learning Communities", by

Stephanie Spear from The Systems Thinker, Pegasus Communications, Vol. 4,

No. 5, 1993.  You Can reach Pegasus at 617-576-1231.  This is article that

points to the role dialogue can have in the process of creating or building

community (Community a la M. Scott Peck's "The Different Drum: Community

Making and Peace").  I have some more things to say from my experience of

working with the Dialogue project a few years ago and how I've integrated

that experience into my practice as a facilitator and a consultant.  I'd be

happy to share this with anyone who is interested directly via e-mail or

you can call me at 512-918-8000.





I spotted your request for info on Dialogue and thought I'd pass along a list

of references put together by one of my friends and former associate, Richard

Burg. Richard sent this list to the LO List a few months ago, and it's a good

one for materials on Dialogue by Bohm. (He may have sent you this list as

well if he caught your message!)


Richard describes Bohmian dialogue briefly as "non-contingent" on a subject

or agenda.  The dialogue practiced by Bill Isaacs and associates in The

Dialogue Project at MIT and his company, Dialogos, is a slightly different

take--we think of it as "strategic dialogue," where there is a more specific

arena for the conversation (a topic or issue of business concern) and the

group learns techniques for building trust, allowing open expression, and

making inquiries to explore each others' thinking and assumptions. We use

many of the techniques described by Chris Argyris (the Fifth Discipline

Fieldbook introduces them pretty well).


A good set of articles on OL and dialogue were presented in the Winter 1993

issue of Organizational Dynamics (a quarterly from the American Mgmt Assoc.),

with ones by Bill Isaacs and Edgar Schein on dialogue, and an excellent

article on community by Peter Senge and Fred Kofman. For more on Argyris, see

his Harvard Business Review articles from July/Aug 1994 and May/June 1991.


As for trainers in dialogue, Dialogos offers several courses on dialogue for

various audiences. The "Foundations for Dialogue" and "Practitioner

Development Program" are delivered on a public basis or to private groups in

companies. Dialogos has worked with numerous corporate, educational, and

government organizations to develop the learning and structures for on-going

dialogue. Let me know if you would like some further information, or you may

contact Dialogos' headquarters at 617/576-7986, P.O.Box 1149, Cambridge, MA




From Richard Burg, Meridian Group, Berkeley, CA:


As I understand the evolution, both Bill Isaacs and Peter Senge were both

inspired to create a dialogue practise in support of the Learning

Organization through their experience with David Bohm. I have an online

copy of "Dialogue: A Proposal" by David Bohm, Donald Factor, and Peter

Garrett. I transcribed this from paper. If you are interested in it,

please e-mail me directly. I will ask about permission to distribute it



Art Kleiner referenced the booklet _On Dialogue_. It was published in

Ojai, California by David Bohm Seminars, P.O. Box 1452, 93023. Routledge,

a publisher in NY, is planning to republish it, with additional material,

including an extenive 'map' to the history of David's investigations that

led to Dialogue. Bohm's work with Dialogue was in a form that is sometimes

referred to as "non-contingent" - he saw the process as one convened

without a purpose, beyond examining "thought" arising in a group of 20 to

40 people.


A series of talks which David gave in Ojai has been transcribed and

published by Routledge as _Thought as a System_. It is available in

bookstores in the UK and the US now.

     [Host's Note: ISBN 0-415-11980 hbk, ISBN 0-415-11030 paperbk]


The use of Dialogue in organizations is a variation and departure from

Bohm's intention. Bohm sought to challenge the epistemology of our

relationship to the world. His suggestion was that the 'solutions' to

problems in the world are as much artifacts of the source of the

'problems', as the 'problems' themselves. Until we can stop and look at

thought, we can not halt the ongoing introduction of actions which failed

to see the whole. His proposal draws heavily, but indirectly, on his work

as a quantum physicist, the work of an English psychoanalyst, Patrick

deMare, author of _Koinonia_ and a long and deep relationship with the

educator, J. Krishnamurti.


I have attached a casual bibliography of references on Dialogue prepared

for a 1993 National OD Network Pre-conference Workshop. A group which has

been engaged in the experiment proposed by Bohm for nearly five years

invited conferees to join them in a weekend of dialogue.  And A. Kleiner

mentioned that the Fieldbook has material on Dialogue.


A Casual Bibliography

Referencing David Bohm and Dialogue


_Wholeness and the Implicate Order_, David Bohm, New York: Arc Paperbacks,



_Unfolding Meaning: A Weekend of Dialogue with David Bohm_, David Bohm,

New York: Arc Paperbacks, 1987.


_The Ending of Time_, David Bohm and J. Krishnamurti, San Francisco:

Harper and Row, 1985.


_Science, Order, and Creativity_, David Bohm and F. David Peat, New York:

Bantam, 1987.


_Changing Consciousness_, David Bohm and Mark Edwards, San Franscisco:

HarperSanFrancisco, 1991.


_On Dialogue_, David Bohm, from David Bohm Seminars, P.O. Box 1452, Ojai,

CA 93023.


_The Fifth Discipline_, Peter Senge, New York: Doubleday, 1990.


_Fifth Generation Management_, Charles M. Savage, Maynard, MA: Digital

Press, 1990.


_Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest_, Peter Block, San

Francisco: Barrett-Koehler, 1993.


_Koinonia: From Hate, through Dialogue, to Culture in the Large Group_,

Patrick de Mare', New York: Karnac Books, 1991.


"Dialogue: The Power of Collective Thinking", William Isaac, The System

Thinker, V.4, No.3, Cambridge: Pegasus Communications, 1993.



From: Tony Page <>


I am also interested in dialogue. I have in front of me a booklet

entitled "On Dialogue - David Bohm". It is an edited transcript of a

meeting in Ojai California in 1989 follwing a weekend seminar by David

Bohm. Available from Pegasus, Cambridge, MA, phone 617-576-1231, fax



The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook by Peter Senge, 1994 et al ISBN

1-85788-060-9 has a whole section entitled Designing a Dialogue session.

It draws information from the Dialogue project run by Bill Isaacs at the

Center for Organisational Learning at MIT.


I have recently been a participant in a dialogue group cmprised of HR/OD

types people in a pharmaceutical company. It is early days but I would

be happy to share how it develops at time passes.



From:   NAME: Scott L. Lewis


Bohm's Dialogue Process is discussed extensively in Peter

Senghe's book, _The Fifth Discipline_.  The book also has a lot

of references into David Bohm's works.  I would also look at _The

Fifth Discipline Field Book_.  I've only perused that one, but

from the looks of it, it amplifies each topic covered in _The

Fifth Discipline_.





I've worked with various dialogue processes for several years.

I find it is necessary to "customize" the dialogue process depending on the

group and the purpose. It is useful to help people recognize the essential

difference between discussion (same root word as percussion and concussion)

and a truly free flow of ideas to help a group discover new meaning. has developed some practical guidelines recently for a

business client and she may be willing to share if you e-mail a request.


In my experience, it is necessary to introduce dialogue in different ways and

emphasize different aspects of the process depending on the group you are

working with.  With my business clients, the process needs to be streamlined

and introduced in a way that emphasizes the practical applications.  With my

research astrophysicists, the niceties of the process are more relevant,

however it is necessary to include some articulate non-scientists in order to

help people think "out of the box" enough to allow for possible new meanings

to emerge.  With government folks it is often necessary to adapt the

process to help move people off rhetorical ground.


As with most processes, success depends, in my opinion, on adaptation to the

context.  I might be able to be more helpful if I knew your intended purpose.


New Paradigms for Learning ( based in Berkeley, CA has

done quite of bit of this kind of work also. Dr. Barbara Pennington there may

be willing to offer some references and suggestions.



From: "Robert Levi" <>


In response to Mary Margaret Palmer's request for information on the

Dialogue Process, I offer the following brief summary of Dialogue. I use

this in gatherings with folks who don't know a lot about the process:


Also, see a paper I posted, edited by Richard Burg (are you out there,

Richard?) from a talk given by Bohm, et al, on his version of Dialogue.


NOTE: This paper is NOT included in this compilation as it is VERY LONG

and I have already posted it once to the newsgroup.  If you want a copy of

it please email me at    Thanks MM






An intentional and sustained inquiry into the assumptions, certainties, and

processes that structure common experience and inform collective action.

Dialogue begins with the premise that there is an implicate undivided

wholeness that can be made explicate. It consists of a flow of meaning that

requires a shared "field" of experience and attention.


Dialogue Requires Shifts From:

 Knower       to     Learner

 Competence   to     Vulnerability

 Arrogance    to     Humility

 Observer     to     Participant


Qualities of Dialogue:




Suspension involves putting an idea, feeling, or belief into the middle, and

taking one's hand off of it, so what gets put in the middle becomes the

property of the whole. You, as well as the group, can look at what's there

from many different angles. The investment is withdrawn and up for inquiry.




The spirit of inquiry involves an open space in which to ask questions about

where a particular assertion, belief, or idea came from. Much of what arises

in a conversation is based on assumptions we make, and there is often a need

to question the data that led us to think a certain way. In a dialogue, a

person who is making broad generalizations can be subject to inquiry. How

did you get there? Can you give me the data that supports your conclusions?

There is a greater possibility for deeper understanding with the inquiry

process. Inquiry must be balanced with advocacy if there is to be Dialogue.


Generative listening


Generative listening is essential in dialogue, and involves letting go of

"building my case" when someone is speaking from a different point of view.

It involves "listening for understanding," rather than preparing to convince

the other person that they are wrong.


Holding tension of opposites


Holding a space that has polarity and opposites is also an essential quality

of dialogue that addresses the wide variation in views usually present in a

diverse group. There is a need to have a container built that respects the

differences and enjoys and cultivates the energies between the diverse



Ladder of Inference


      /----/ I take ACTIONS based on my beliefs.

     /----/  I adopt BELIEFS about the world. -----------------| My BELIEFS

    /----/   I draw CONCLUSIONS.                               | affect the

   /----/    I make ASSUMPTIONS based on the meanings I added  | DATA that

  /----/     I add MEANINGS (cultural and personal).           | select.>

 /----/      I select "DATA" from what I observe. <------------|

/----/       All the information in the world


We use this tool a lot to examine beliefs that are advocated by folks. If

you take the time to "walk" down the ladder of inference, there is a lot of

learning to be had, especially around the "MEANINGS" rung. Also, the

"reflexive loop" is another big learning piece...that our beliefs affect the

data we select (usually to reinforce our beliefs.) This has large

implications on the scientific method.


(Many thanks to Dr. William Isaacs for his excellent research into the

Dialogue process. His institute, Dialogos, puts on excellent trainings in

Dialogue. Dialogos can be reached at 617-576-7986. Tell them you heard about

them from Robert Levi on the Internet.)


There is a lot more I could write about, but I think I've done enough

"advocating". I look forward to any "inquiries" about the process.



From: (Bernard Girard)


Those interested in dialogue might read Martin Buber who published several

texts on this topic. He wrote in german. I know there was a french

traduction of these texts in the late fifties. There must have been an

english traduction.  Buber was a jewish philosopher, he lived his last

years in Jerusalem.



From: "david.r.dobat" <>


In your post you asked for reference materials on dialogue.  The only one

I can think of off the top of my head is On Dialogue by David Bohm.  I

think that this text is actually a transcribed and edited conversation

from a talk he gave on the subject.


In most of my conversations I try to carry the "spirit" of dialogue to the

table (or circle as the case may be).  That is to say I try to focus on my

own presence, deep listening to the group, listening to myself and

listening to the silence.  I try to be aware of my own listening and how

it might be impacting the conversation.  I try to suspend my own

judgements and make my reasoning explicit for others to explore.  All of

this is very hard to do.  I would like to think that by being aware of

these things in conversation, the conversation itself is changed in some

subtle way.  I would also like to think that this serves as an invitation

for others to become aware of their own listening, reasoning, etc.


Introducing dialogue and all of its concepts may be more confusing at

first.  People are always curious about a conversation whose purpose is to

allow meaning to emerge from the group.  Do we have time for that?  What

does it look like?  Do we have it down yet?  These are some of the

questions I have received after introducing the concept (which may be a

sign that I can't introduce dialogue very effectively).


I would suggest that you try different things with different groups and

see which is more effective for you.  I have found it helpful to carry

within me the spirit of dialogue and try to explain the concepts later.

In other words, try to model the behavior then after a few conversations

make it explicit.  This also allows the space for others to give you

feedback on how "dialogue-like" your own conversations are.





I would share the "four criteria" of dialogue as outlined in Don Peppers and

Martha Rogers' book, __The One to One Future__ (Currency Doubleday, 1993.)

1. All parties to a dialogue must be able to participate in it.

2. All parties to a dialogue must want to participate in it.

3. Dialogues can be controlled by anyone in the exchange

4. Your dialogue with an individual customer will change your behavior toward

that single individual, and change that individual's behavior toward you.





Responding to your inquiry re:  dialogue process.  Major references worth

looking at in addition to Bohm's books are Peter Senge's Fifth Discipline and

Fifth Discipline Reader (both published by Doubleday), and Marvin Weisbor'd

Discovering Common Ground  and Future Search (both published by

Berrett-Koehler).  I also posted a message on this to the Learning Org List,

mentioning Patrick de Mare and Krishnamurti as Bohm's primary sources.



Try checking with:


David Bohm Seminars Committee

Attn:Meredy & John Maynard

P.O. Box 1452, Ojai, CA 93024-1452

805) 646-9357