• English (United Kingdom)
  • Français (France)
  • Nederlands nl-NL


Dialogue and Organizational Development

The importance of dialogue for collaborative  organizations ?

Why has DIALOGUE become so important for modern organizations ? 

TheVUCA environment organizations operate in, challenges organizations to :

develop their capacity for change & learning, link professionals & expertise, tap into the energy and passion of everyone...
develop the organization as a flexible network, with professionals contributing in different teams, roles, capacities...
pursue active and real involvement of all stakeholders, welcoming diversity and embracing social responsibility
incite autonomy, initiative, distributed leadership, transversal collaboration
stop looking at things as 'cause-effect' chains and use the 'strenght' of the 'complex system' to chaise moving targets 

It is simply no longer possible for a management board to take decisions and then 'pass it on' to others for execution.

The issues are extremely difficult to understand, the solutions not evident, the implementation too complex, the need for stakeholder involvement unrivalled and the intermittent challenges too volatile to even think you can still create a clear vision, translate it into objectives and roll it out as a project plan.



cynefinCarefully planned and orderly executed and controlled processes will simply no longer do the trick. The complexity of the challenge is the reason why an organization is becoming a network of professionals and teams, all taking initiatives (not executing orders) based on their sound judgement within a common generative image. People will construct from there, flexible and changing coalitions with other professionals to make things happen.

That can only be done when 'dialogue' is the basic fabric of the organization. Evolving from a 'communicative framework' where decisions are at best explained to all others in the organization, over a 'consultative framework' where stakeholder are consulted and listened to before decisions are made towards a truly co-creative, dialogic framework that is 'making meaning' and enables people to contribute their energy, passion, expertise and experience to further their common ambition. In such a context every member and stakeholder is a partner in that dialogue.

People should not be 'working for an organization' but should build the organization with others sharing that same ambition.

That is fundamentally different from the 'industrial, mechanistic' type of organization we have known so far, where an 'employer' bought the time and expertise of professionals in order to pursue his 'objectives'.  That model is no longer viable. Instead of the conventional "create a vision - get buy in (or buy it ?) - execute" approach to  planned change, we need new conversations that : disrupt habits and embedded meanings; bring increased diversity into conversations so that creativity and innovation are heightened; energize networks of motivated people to propose and try small experiments that, probe emergent practices that eventually could become transformational changes.

Organizations can no longer be 'All-Inclusive Travel' but needs to be an 'Adventurous Trekking' where the trip is made by the bunch travelling as they move on.


In these video's David Snowden explains why a top down leadership is not working in a complex environment and Gervase Bushe explains that the idea of a 'vision' as a clear target to get to in project steps is not working anymore and how it could be replaced by 'generative images'.


Generative Change to fuel Innovation

Distributed Leadership towards a Common Ambition

Generative change is a 'mindset' about change in organizations, that is challenging the foundations of the planned change approach that is still very common in most organizations.

Planned change is based on these premises :

  • The future is rational, predictable and knowable
  • You can find 'the right solution' as long as you make the right analysis of the problem
  • You can create a 'clear vision' of where you want to end up in the future
  • That vision 'tells' all stakeholders what to do, and if everybody does what is asked from them, we will get there
  • Change is 'mastered' top-down and stakeholder involvement is seen as the product of communication and training


Generative Change is looking differently at the environment organizations are operating in and acknowledge the fact that the most pressing problems organizations face today are not the 'operational problems' a planned, project like approach can deal with, but complex problems for which the cause-effect relationship far from transparent.

The way Generative Change dynamics try to deal with that new VUCA situation is to :

  • work with the complexity of the system
  • tap into collective wisdom
  • try to trigger 'divergent thinking' i.s.o. the kind of convergent thinking a vision propelled change approach produces
  • leads to 'distributed leadership' taking initiatives based on passion and expertise of each and every professional and stakeholder engaged by the shared ambition of the organization


generativemindset"Rather than identifying what the change will be, leaders need to identify and lead processes for engaging the necessary stakeholders in emergent change processes.  To do that successfully requires a Generative Leader Mindset that acknowledges and works with the social construction of organizations."
(Source : Gervase Bushe & Bob Marshak., Transforming Leadership. Practising Social Change. The practitioner’s journal of The NTL Institute for Applied Behavioural Science. March 2017)


The two 'key features' in the Generative Change approach that make the most of a difference are the use of Generative Images (iso Corporate Vision) and the use of 'Probes', self-organized innovations which are very different from the project based approach in the Planned Change model.

A Generative Image, is a general framework that is not telling people what needs to be done, but to the contrary is stating the 'shared ambition' the organization has in terms of impacting stakeholders & society as a whole. It allows all stakeholders in the organization to take initiatives in all kind of areas of expertise, all in very different ways contributing to that same ambition. It often brings originally 'conflicting interests' together and has the potential to enthuse all stakeholders, making them affectively partners in the 'same struggle' i.s.o. adversaries. The big advantage of a Generative Image is the fact that even if the situation is dramatically changing (as it was in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic), the ambition stays the same even if the actions people have to take now can be very different.
A record company, in the seventies, had the vision to become the biggest record company, producing the very best quality music on vinyl records. And they were very successful at that. But the the CD was invented. They considered the CD an attack on their business and started to defend the vinyl record. We all know by now how that story went.
Just suppose they would have worked from a generative image such as " helping our customers to enjoy music " ?
If then the world is changing and the CD appears, it could have been embraced as one more possibility to realize their ambition. And besides that, the generative image would have allowed all kinds of professionals to contribute in very different ways to that ambition. Just suppose somebody would come up with the idea to develop a special kind of wall paper with beter acoustic qualities... 

This different mindset around change also leads to a completely different change process, not based on analysis, vision, communication and implementation, but based on shared ambition, co-creation and probes.

In 2020, all organizations had a collective experience of 'organizing in uncertainty' during the Corona crisis. That is an ideal starting point for such a learning and change process. From this shared experience, everyone can be involved in the dialogue around the question: "what is the challenge for our organization in uncertainty, complexity and change (adaptive challenge) and what can be the 'shared ambition' for us, from which each of us can contribute autonomously as well as in close collaboration with others. An ambition that all stakeholders can be enthusiastic about and which creates space for people to contribute from their experience, passion, expertise and energy, in very different ways and yet coherently. That shared ambition takes on the role of 'coördination and direction' that otherwise vision, strategy, directive leadership had to provide. It enables distributed leadership in the organization.

Such a process takes place in three major phases. The specific methodologies (click for overview) that are used within these phases must be adapted to the culture, size and possibilities of each organization.


In this dialogical process, generating an image of our common ambition, a number of principles apply that ensure the dialogue is truly inclusive and that the passion and expertise of all stakeholders is really translated into that 'generative image', so that everyone will really, and of their own initiative and motivation commit to that ambition.

In the probes and in the daily behavior of that 'redesigned organization' after this dialogical, generative change process, it is crucial that the same values are also taken into account and become part of the 'theory in use', the culture of the organization.

Downloads & Sources :

Marshak,R. & Bushe, G., (2018), Planned & Generative Change in Organization Development. OD Practitioner, Vol. 50 ,No. 4

Bushe, G., (2020), The Generative Change Model – creating the agile organization while dealing with a complex problem. From : The Dynamics of Generative Change. In : BMI Series in Dialogical Organization Development. BMI Publishing. 


Bushe. G. (2020) The Dynamics of Generative Change. In : BMI Series in Dialogical Organization Development. BMI Publishing. (link BMI website)

Bushe. G. (2019) Generative Leadership. Canadian Journal of Physician Leadership, Volume 5, Number 3

Nagaishi, M. (2020) Discourse-Based Generative Leadership in Organizations. Chukyo Keiei Kenkyu, 29:1, 1-9.

Snippe. R. (2014) Doorbreek uw bedrijfscultuur. Hoe managers organisatieontwikkeling tegenhouden. Academic Service (online bookreview in Dutch)

Wierdsma, A. F. M. (1999) Co-creatie van Verandering. Eburon. (available online in Dutch only)

Dialogue as generative fabric of your organization

Actively promoting dialogue in your organization?


Conducting a future search process that includes all internal and external stakeholders. This search starts with an outlook on the external environment the organization operates and the technical, societal and environmental challenges ahead. Through conversations among stakeholders, they will build a common purpose for their 'organizational trekking' and create the 'generative image' that makes their jouney worthwhile.  The result is ownership and the individual and collective competencies to see the journey through.
Our Contribution :
Scanning tools and processes
Process design and facilitation
Coaching of Leadership Team
Large Group Activities

lever2f Build an organization that sets the scene for dialogue. Avoid 'walls' between individuals, teams, expertise areas, roles, positions, etc... Diversity and Inclusion are the key 'pointers' for organizational design. Leadership : Is it about rules, controle, difference in status, power... or is it actually triggering initiative, experiment, contribution and collaboration. Set up the dialogue about culture, values, leadership and more so about what we actually do and if it creates sustainable value for all.

Our Contribution :
Organizational Design Advice
Coaching Leaders & Teams
Cultural & Behavioral Analysis
Facilitation Design Teams


Learning is not so much about training. It's about shaping your collaboration in such a way that experiential and relational learning occurs. Learning from experience means you need to create meaningful and diverse experience for all, with space for experiment, room for mistakes and experienced practitioners in support as coaches. For relational learning you need to have people collaborate over team and content bounderies, create feedback mechanisms, create conversations among people as 'after action review', etc...
Our Contribution :
Facilitate Communities of Practice
Coach Intervision groups
Coach & Consult L&D teams
Design Learning Strategies & Tools


Every single HR policy or practice facilitates or hinders dialogue, autonomous initiative, distributed leadership and organizational learning. So we need to redesign every practice, process and policy that could possibly have unintended behavioral impact. Are we triggering maximal mobility, is Performance Management driving collaboration or internal competition, do we incite people to think 'what can I do' or do they think 'what am I payed for' ?...
Our Contribution :
Design Strategic HR policies
Analyse impact of current HR practices
Performance Management processes
Coaching HR leadership team


Teams are 'minilabs' for organizational dialogue : team members share purpose & values; work together; develop an open feedback culture and support each other's development. Team doesn't equal a group people reporting to the same manager.  Teams thrive when leadership is truly distributed, when everybody is involved in the team's business and people truly collaborate and learn. Then people can contribute to their full potential and feel fulfilled and engaged at work.
Our Contribution :
Team Crafting Exercises
Team & Team leader Coaching
Teamwork & -planning Tools
Experiential Games
Project Management Support


Meaningful Work is key not only for individual fulfillment and avoiding burn out.  It's also key for effective teams and organizations.  Meaningful Work is a combination of being challenged on your talents, expertise and passions; experiencing autonomy and volition in your job and a strong sense of belonging and support from your work environment. Involving jobholders in the design of their own activity (as opposed to jobdescriptions a jobclassification systems) increase engagement, results and welbeing of professionals.
Our Contribution :
Team Crafting
Workplace and Job Design
Career Coaching (Partnership OrientaEuro)
Consulting on Employee Welbeing

Our Action Principles

How can we make this work in your organization?














iconjourney2The Journey IS the Destination











Our On-line Resources

Knowledge only Grows when Shared!


The Move! website provides info on our projects, our approach and a lot of extra resources and information on Organizational Development.
Click here to go There.


Click on the thumbnail to download the article



The Move! learning app has extra resources and information on Organizational Development and allows to purshase our Toolkit.
Click here to download our App for Android


This site is fully dedicated to the 'Learning Organization' and you find info on distributed leadership, co-creation, intervision, communities of practice, experiential games, jobcrafting etc...
Click here to go There


This website explores the notion of Generative Organisations, fertile soil to givergent thinking and autonomous initiative, behaviors we so desperately need in an unpredictable and ambiguous context. We explore a number of HR practices, try to understand what makes them 'not generative' and what are generative alternatives. Go to our website!!


frontpage ebook distributed leadershipThis is our Move! E-book on Distributed Leaderschip. Click on the cover to access it. (also available in Dutch)


Switch it on is a handy toolkit with 25 activities to trigger organizational learning. You find all info and a handy webshop to purchase the tool as hardcopy or pdf-link.
Click here to go There

Move! Talks : Organizational Innovation Series

Move! Talks consist of a number of video contributions in which Clement shares with you several ideas to innovate your organization in order for people to really be able to contribute their expertise, experience, passion and energy and help the organizion towards sustainable performance and sustainable development.

If you hover over this video you can acces the full Move! Talks playlist (top-right)

About Move!

Move4logoMove! is a small OD practice, creating customized services for organizational challenges in customer organizations.  We work out of our Belgian office throughout Europe and occasionally beyond. We work in Dutch, French, English and Spanish for all types of organizations, big and small, profit and social profit.    Read more here.

Check out our Privacy Policy

Contact Us
Please enter your name!
Please enter your email!
Write your message!
Company Address : Move! Organizational Learning, Bankstraat 27, B-3000 Leuven. Belgium

© 2019 Move! Organizational Learning. All Rights Reserved.

AgeThemes provided the template used in this website for free.



Welcome to Start to Move! Have a peek at our vision on organizations and their sustainable development in an extremely volatile business context.

Intrigued? Dive in deeper!

This landingpage offers you direct access to our other websites and some of our online resources. Enjoy!


Clement Leemans

Move! Organizational Learning