Conversations of different types are opening up all over Leeds at the moment.
Organisations like Together for Peace host them as a way of helping people make connections around shared values and turn ideas into positive action. The Culture Vultures have been flocking to conversations to talk about issues that matter to them with like-minded folk (generally this group is made up of younger early(ish) adopters of social media with a background in the creative arts and digital media). The Leeds Initiative have been holding conversation as a way of drawing out priorities for the Vision for Leeds holding conversations both face to face and virtually. Indeed my own twin projects of Progress School and Innovation Lab are little more than structured conversations focussed on helping individuals and groups who wish to make things better.
But what purpose does conversation serve if it does not result in a decent action plan?
Perhaps we need a little less conversation, a little more action please? I sense frustration breaking out in all sorts of places that all this chatter is getting us no-where. It does not build tram systems, arenas or social justice. It just recycles hot air. Endlessly.
Well all I can say is that if the conversation is just re-cycling hot air then you are doing it wrong. In good conversation something shifts. Things are learned. Possibilities are created by the group that no one member could have seen on their own. The conversation itself transforms the way we see the world and the range of possibilities it offers.
So the conversations are building commitment, clarity, relationships and frustration. Sounds like the perfect heady brew from which some really interesting innovation and change can emerge. You see, contrary to the great Action Plan Myth some worthwhile projects are spontaneous, they emerge, take shape and make their mark. They are not handcrafted in Microsoft Project, developing 5 year Gantt charts with milestones and objectives to be ticked at every stage. Hard work, commitment, flexibility, relationships and, above all perhaps, passionate belief make exciting things happen.
And everything, yes, EVERYTHING starts with a conversation…
So, if you find yourself frustrated, wanting a little less conversation and a little more action please just ask yourself what you can do to move things on a bit.
Perhaps a change of tactics is just what’s needed.
And one thing I am pretty clear about. The more you try to steer the conversation towards action plans and outcomes the more anaemic those conversations become as people start to lobby and advocate rather than listen, explore and learn.
So, a little more conversation, frustration, relationship and commitment please.
The action has already started…and it is all around us…just this week end I witnessed the birth of @nofishybusiness and a wonderful trip to the seaside where 70 people from all over the UK (but mainly Leeds) were bought together by Leeds band Hope & Social to share music, food, conversation and dreams. Test Space Kitchen made its debut at Temple Works, one of the world’s leading community organisers is coming to train in the city…
Things are happening all around us. And if you can’t find something that works for you then just start something yourself. The chances are that you are not alone….
NB not sure what YOU can be doing to make things better? Try Progress School…