The power of conversation in creating an inclusive culture

Written by
Claire King

10 Aug 2018

10 Aug 2018 • by Claire King

Graphic facilitation is just one way of amplifying conversations and fostering inclusivity, writes Claire King.

Creating and leveraging an inclusive culture doesn’t stop at recruiting and developing diverse talent. It requires a shift from communicating strategic imperatives top-down to involving your diverse stakeholders in solution design and key decisions.

This need not be a time-consuming approach resulting in ‘design by committee’. By curating conversations among those who decide, those who know and those who do, you can ensure all stakeholders feel ownership of the solutions they align on, saving time in the long run.

Such approaches have proved successful for diverse groups – from thought leaders at TED to world leaders at the World Economic Forum – as well as within a wide range of businesses.

Two key elements usually involved are design thinking and whole system facilitation. 

Design thinking uses techniques such as modelling, prototyping and testing to ensure a solution is fit for purpose, and works just as well for values and culture-change programmes as for business models and processes. Whole system facilitation acts at each layer of a complex system to ensure nothing and nobody is excluded from consideration.

When you initiate a collaborative conversation, there may be those who haven’t felt listened to in the past, who don’t wish to engage, or who take antagonistic positions. Be empathetic: it can take courage to risk speaking out without fearing judgement, just as it does for top management to collaborate rather than control.

Consider using different kinds of facilitation to foster inclusivity. Graphic facilitation, for example, when key words are captured verbatim and brought to life with visual metaphors, can amplify the power of conversation, acting not
only as a visual synthesis but also as a mirror (where everyone’s words hold equal value) and a map, showing where we have come from and where we intend to go.

We know the fourth industrial revolution will bring systemic disruption, even though we don’t yet know how that will play out for our organisations. Working collaboratively has not only been shown to reduce employee turnover and improve the agility of the organisation, but also creates true engagement and inclusivity, strengthening culture and putting the power to shape the future back into your hands.