Dialogic Approaches to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Learn how relational power in organisations can create the social change of our time.

In order to sustainably increase diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in an organisation, all employees need to engage in strength-based generative conversationsRather than avoid themes like #BlackLivesMatters, #MeToo and #LoveisLove at work, this moment is opportune for Dialogic Organization Development (OD). Come prepared to collaboratively inquire into what’s working and what’s possible to create the change we want to see in our workplaces, communities and family systems.

This course is designed to support you in taking DEI action with Dialogic OD approaches like Appreciative Leadership where language, listening and generative conversations catalyze positive organizational change. You are invited to come with a DEI project (big or small) that will ensure your learning through immediate application. The course will help you validate the relational power – both individual and collective strengths – within your initiative, intitiate generative conversations to engage in listening and storytelling for positive possibilities, and ensure you have an action plan to co-create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organization.

Author Tanya and colleagues will share her theory of change, model and expertise working in the fields of DEI and Dialogic OD as published in several books, including the forthcoming BMI book: Dialogic Approaches to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Successful client examples will be introduced via guest speakers. Note that this course is not a diversity, equity and inclusion training nor an unconscious bias OD assessment, as Dialogic OD goes beyond content to focus on mindset and generative change processes. Of course, links to content resources and expertise will be provided as this course is designed for all OD skill levels. The coursework will combine theory and practice in plenary, paired and small group discussions along with individual reflection and action learning to cater for multiple learning styles. 

Course Agenda:

Creating a Safer Container and Building a Community of Practice

In this module we will:

  • Share a Dialogic OD relational theory of change and appreciative leadership model applied to DEI;
  • Discuss and identify various diversity markers and explore the term intersectionality, coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, with an additional strengths based lens, e.g. “how might the term serve as a meaningful metaphor for bringing out the best of women by exploring layers of strengths and wisdom developed by living with multiple forms of inequality and disadvantage” (Thriving Women, Thriving World. 2019, Taos*); and
  • Experience relational power and build understanding and trust through paired work and group shared agreements.

Relational Power Project Based Work

In this module we will:

  • Review and integrate Dialogic OD principles, tools, and process into each person’s identified DEI project;
  • Learn and practice in small groups a strength-based peer coaching “Spaciousness Thinking Partners” process to build, brainstorm and feedback on each project; and
  • Reflect on generative conversations and processes that involve amplifying and envisioning what is possible in DEI.

Embodied Learning

In this module we will:

  • Explore how the projects, following asynchronous generative project feedback, can go further with deeper reflection and breakthroughs on limiting beliefs;
  • Identify DEI solutions through applying dialogic approaches that access embodied knowledge; and
  • Craft generative questions we need to consistently and persistently be asking to grow our DEI strengths-based practice.

Shared Ownership and Inspired Action Plans in DEI Initiatives

In this module we will:

  • Learn and practice a dialogic process for strength-based project co-working, “Spaciousness Action Groups;”
  • Reflect on and converge all our key insights and emerging wisdom in order to solidify a vast toolbox for practical application post course; and
  • Understand factors of sustainability in DEI resolve and resilience by exploring the inner condition and external relationships (with both allies and antagonists) needed for successful action.

To ensure inclusion of different learning styles, during each of the sessions participants will spend an hour deepening their understanding and skillset in breakout sessions where they will be able to learn and apply leading a dialogic OD practice in pairs and small groups. Additional support materials, resources, as well as between-session sharing of practices, questions, insights have been designed to meet the course objective of strengthening each person’s DEI community of practice.

Course Objectives:

Upon Completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  1. Actively contribute to a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organization
  2. Understand the personal, interpersonal, and systemic impact of strength-based meaning making in DEI
  3. Apply Dialogic OD approaches to DEI in their own workplace
  4. Describe relational power in addition to positional and experiential power as vital to creating organizational change
  5. Initiate their own DEI project at work using dialogic approaches
  6. Prepare for positive change through the application of strength-based language and metaphors
  7. Practice the inclusion of embodied knowledge in identifying DEI solutions
  8. Guide the creation of agreements for safer spaces for strength-based DEI dialogues
  9. Establish a learning community and accountability process for Dialogic OD approaches to DEI
  10. Create an Appreciative Leadership Action Plan for their own DEI project

Dialogic OD Series

A Series of Live Online Courses

The Cape Cod Institute is partnering with the Bushe-Marshak Institute (BMI), to provide a series of Live Online Courses for those interested in developing their skills and knowledge in Dialogic Organisation Development. All Live Online Courses in the BMI series will meet for 15 hours over the course of a month. Meeting times vary by course, so please check individual course pages for specific course details. All courses can be taken alone OR to complete certification requirements to become a certified dialogic OD practitioner through the Bushe-Marshak Institute. Click here to learn more about the Bushe-Marshak Institute Level I and Level II certifications and requirements as well as asynchronous courses in foundational theory offered through Lacerta Academy.

Organisation Development (OD) is a discipline that studies how to create great teams and organisations. Three intellectual trends marked its emergence in the 1960’s: 1) the shift in thinking about organisations like closed system machines, to thinking of organisations like open system organisms, 2) the development of action research as a participatory change process, and 3) the incorporation of humanistic social science into the practice of management.

OD practitioners were interested in creating better teams, organisations, communities and societies by engaging their members in scientific self-study that would lead to better social processes and human relations. Many innovations in managerial practice (e.g., leadership training, team-building, survey feedback, diversity and inclusion, participative management, team-based organising, action research, planned change) are all aspects of OD.

Dialogic OD represents a shift in the practice of creating great organisations and teams, from thinking of organisations as organisms, to thinking of them as networks of meaning-making. Moving away from small groups doing action research to large-group generative change, and incorporating new advances in interpretive social science and scientific discoveries about complex adaptive systems.