Conversation is a form of knowledge management. Along with the business benefits of innovation, cultural cohesion, empathic and ethical behaviors, and enhanced capacity for change that is inherent in a conversational culture, latent knowledge is shared. Not only does this ensure the longevity and leveraging of organizational knowledge and insight, but also enables informed systems thinking and innovation. In organizations where people talk, they share insights, practices, experiences and ideas.
On the contrary, in cultures where conversation is curtailed, you will find rigid hierarchies, silos, discordant practices, secrecy and distrust. These environments are tarnished by management styles that are self-protective and dismissive of others. The title of the Harvard Business Review’s summary of a study published in the Academy of Management Journal captures this problem: Incompetent managers don’t want to hear your ideas.
Innovative, knowledge managing businesses nurture and encourage an open conversational ecosystem. Does yours?