Robert Coles - Future practice for future organisations

Brief description of the talk:

In the industrial revolution, the human capacity to collaborate, through thinking and feeling together, to integrate and create new knowledge and practice, will be our fundamental remaining advantage. Our power to imagine is, and will remain for some time, unique to us. In order to utilise this power, leadership and organisational practice has to shift; away from control and repetition (machines can already do that), towards ideas, emotions, connections and collaborative effort.

This talk is about how to 'do' dialogue, how to weave tone, content and structure together to enable teams and organisations to think widely end effectively, and, in doing so, close the gap between decision making and getting things done.

Key facts:

  • Repetitive human tasks already can be mimicked by machines.
  • Anything that is diagnostic, and therefore predictable, will soon be mimicked by intelligent computing.
  • Human imagination, thinking and ideation are unique to us and will always be.  Yet, we fail to take advantage of it, preferring to restrict our colleagues and teams with controls, measures and output targets. 
  • Dialogue - an interaction that creates and shapes original thinking and learning - is THE tool for the future. Dialogue is enabled through effective structure of language, through managing the tone and context of inquiry and through a plus-plus approach to idea generation.

Overall take-away from the session:

  • Hot collaboration - the technique that enhances collaborative dialogue!
  • Cold collaboration - the common practice of poorly functioning teams, that eliminates the possibility of dialogue!
  • Tone Mood Structure - the three secrets to success.
  • Balance forum and voice to encourage REAL engagement;
  • Empowering creates energy, Overpowering silences voices.

For further reading around the subject, go to

About Dr. Robert Coles:

Robert is the Co-Founder and Chair of The Centre for Alternative Leadership & Management, an academic research collaboration, think tank and consultancy and the CEO of Roffey Park, a charitable trust developing innovative learning approaches to enable individuals to achieve their full potential both at work and in their wider lives.

Previously, Robert has built three Executive Education practices and, in addition, was the European Director for one of the world’s ‘next 4’ global audit and accounting organisations, responsible for a European organization of 10,000 people and $1.6 billion in revenues.

He is a graduate of Oxford and Leicester Universities in the UK, and holds Post-Graduate degrees in Collaborative & Confucian Leadership, Cross-Cultural HRD, and Organisational Leadership.


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