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Karina Butera

Boris Groysberg & Michael Slind’s

TALK INC.
How trusted leaders use conversation to power their organisations

Groysberg and Slind present an evidence-based review of the new force powering companies - Organisational Conversations. No longer is the leadership style of Command and Control seen as suitable for today’s fast paced, globalised and service driven business environment. Rather, successful business leaders are engaging staff and stakeholders at all levels to stay ahead of their game.

For Organisational Conversations to be meaningful and productive, Groysberg and Slind have isolated four essential ‘elements’ (or what I would describe as ‘guiding principles’); suggesting conversations should aim for: Intimacy, Interactivity, Inclusion and Intentionality.

According to these guiding principles, conversations should invite an intimate exchange of experiences and ideas where participants feel secure in offering their perspective. They should be interactive and encourage robust debate. They should include staff and stakeholders at numerous levels to gain the full spectrum of perspectives. Finally, conversations need to have a clear intention to keep discussion focussed and meaningful.

This book is an extremely well organised and easy to read resource. It is broken into four parts - one per ‘element’ (principle). Each of these parts is broken into three levels of focus. The first level explains the principle and provides theoretical grounding; the second provides an example of this principle in action through a case study; and the third provides practical guidance on how to apply the principle in your organisation.

For me, the take home message from this book was the importance of the final element: intentionality. Without all involved parties understanding what the intention is behind any Organisational Conversation, the purpose of the conversation can be lost and the sharing of thoughts, experiences and ideas can become directionless. With the majority of workers and managers in today’s workplaces being time-poor and meeting-overloaded, it is important for this sense of purpose in conversations to be clear so that your participants do not become burdened with a sense of ‘well, that was a big waste of time!’

In my experience working with large organisations, if your people do not understand and believe the intention behind the invitation to be part of a conversation, they will either remain mute or fly off into a million different tangents with no clear outcomes. In my opinion, without habitually following this last principle, the success of your conversations will be undermined.

Overall, the authors give a compelling case for broadening the function of Corporate Communication from a one-way, top-down approach, to a two-way exchange. Talk Inc is well suited to executives wanting to gain better employee and stakeholder engagement and is a must-read for anyone specialising in Corporate Communications.

As strong business relationships are built from productive conversations, I see this book as an excellent guide to assist you in your business relationship building.

For many top leaders, quite understandably, the task of closing one’s mouth and opening one’s ears doesn’t come easy.... When a leader starts to treat listening to employees as no less important than speaking to them, the lines of communication between the top and bottom of an organization become a set of arrows that point up as well as down.

Groysberg & Slind, 2012, (page 25)

Review Details

Title: Talk Inc.; How trusted leaders use conversation to power their organisations

Authors: Groysberg, B. & M. Slind, 2012

Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press, Boston

Category: Management / Communication

Review date: 19 November 2012

Reviewed by: Dr Karina Butera

Disclaimer: Karina Butera Consulting Pty Ltd is not affiliated in any way with the authors or publishers of the resource reviewed and receive no benefit or commissions for publishing this review. This review is the subjective opinion of Dr Karina Butera provided solely for the purpose of providing client information and inspiration.

Coach of the Year 2012