Organizational Patterns LO18000

Richard Goodale (
Wed, 06 May 98 13:02:32 GMT

Replying to LO17985 --

Hi Fred

I think you may well be on to something interesting here. Let me pass on
a couple of pointers, as well as a brief description of some work I did in
this area late last year.

First for the pointers. My first exposure to the concept of "strategy as
conversation" was an article in "Wired" Issue 5.07, July 1997, entitled
"Bordering on Chaos," which described the process by which Cemex, the
Mexican cement company, managed to implement its strategies (which were,
in themselves, based on the application of complexity theory) through an
ongoing series of processes which went from top to bottom in the
organisation (and back up and sideways, of course), which they called "The
Conversation." The Cemex story is also a chapter in the story of Fernando
Flores, whose company "Business Design Associates," was their external
consultant (their CEO, Lorenzo Zambrano, was the internal, and primary,
change agent). For a brief discussion of Flores and his background, you
can look back in the LO archives to LO13820. Another reference is the
book "Scenarios: the art of strategic conversation," by Kees van der
Heijden. It is less enlightening, but does give examples as to how
scenario planning can be used in organisations to provide the "patterns"
for strategic conversation.

After my exposure to these concepts, I put together two presentations for
private clients, one entitled "Strategy as Conversation" and the other
"Conversational Mapping." In the latter, I explored ways of "mapping"
patterns of conversation in organisations, and then comparing these
patterns against norms which varied depending on the strategic path being
followed. I think my ideas are similar to those you describe as being
explored and implemented at ETS, and I would be happy to send you a
sanitised (for confidentiality) copy of my slides if you wish. Just send
me your mailing address.

As an afterthought, at least two of the articles in the latest HBR are of
relevance to these topics, namely: Chris Argyris' article "Empowerement:
The Emperor's New Clothes;" and "Strategic Stories: How 3M is rewriting
business planning."

Thanks for the good ideas. I look forward to additional postings by you
and others on this thread.


Richard Goodale
Managing Partner
The Dornoch Partnership.


Richard Goodale <>

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