Friday, January 4, 2013

Help Improve Practice Through Dialogue

Over the holidays I read ‘”The Fifth Discipline” by Peter Senge for a second time. It is a great book with a lot of relevant content to my current assignment at West Point.

The book makes the point that there are two forms of discourse, discussion and dialogue.  I never thought much about the difference between the two but after reading I understand.

Discussion is a back and forth conversation where the people involved are presenting their views trying to convince the other person that their point of view is correct. Each person might accept part of the other person’s point of view to strengthen their argument but ultimately each person wants their point of view to prevail.

Dialogue is not about winning and having a prevailing point of view. In dialogue a group explores issues from multiple points of view. Individuals suspend their assumptions freely. The result is a free exploration that brings to the surface the full depth of people’s experience and thought, and yet can move their individual views.   In dialogue individuals gain insights that could not be achieved individually.

After reading this I really understand the value of dialogue. I think dialogue can me be more productive than discussion, especially in a community of practice where the the community exists to help improve the practice of individual members by sharing knowledge.


  1. Did you also read Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together? It was also on Margaret's recommended reading list.

    1. Michelle,
      No I didn't! I am going to check it out. Do you have anything to add to this post?