If all your conversations at work are safe, you aren’t doing your job. As change practitioners, we can only contribute so much to success when we stick with the known. Today’s changes are breaking new ground, and we need to be prepared to do the same.
In his article Can We Talk? How to Have the Conversations that Lead to Change (Forbes), Kevin Murphy states that we need to engage in conversations that address the “unknown, untried, and untrue.” This means that it is critical for us to talk outside of our own—and others—comfort zone. In order to achieve this, he introduces the concept of “center and edge conversations.” Center conversations are the ones most of us try to engage in all of the time. Everybody knows what is going on, what to expect, what they will likely hear, and what to (and not to) say.
Edge conversations move into uncharted territory; they can be risky. But, edge conversations can be made safer by naming them. For example, We need to look at this in new ways; we need to push the edge on our conversation and our exploration of this challenge. By teaching people the difference between center and edge conversations, and by legitimizing the latter when you enter into them, previously unimaginable breakthroughs can occur.