Dialogue Interviews are one of the most reliable and versatile tools of the Change Lab process. They are also foundational in that they can be used to build participants’ capacity in a number of different skills—from seeing, suspending and redirecting to talking and listening empathetically and generatively—and they can occur in many parts of the Change Lab itself. Dialogue interviews can help us engage with stakeholders during the convening phase; they can help us tap into the interviewees’ commitment and determine whether they may want to participate in a Lab process. They help us see the system during the co-sensing phase both when they are done between Lab members and with external partners. They enable us to build our collective knowledge about the system we are endeavoring to impact and by doing them, we form deeper and stronger relationships between team members.
In a workshop setting, dialogue interviews can also be very powerful, again combining skillbuilding with relationship building and co-sensing. We often use them close to the beginning of a workshop because they can build an esprit de corps amongst the participants so effectively and we generate a lot of knowledge about the system in the room quickly.
Dialogue interviews can segue into other teaching pieces, like the four quadrant model for talking and listening, the ladder of inference, as well as more work on seeing, suspending, and redirecting.
Lastly, we have found that there is so much richness in doing dialogue interviews, the skills they build, and the results they deliver that we often start our work with client teams with a full one-day workshop on dialogue interviews so that they can then go and interview themselves and others in order to build the field in which they will work.