Tao of Dialogue

Peter Jones Dialogic Design

Lao Tze imagined a way of serving others and giving up your own ideas:

In caring for others and serving heaven,
There is nothing like using restraint.
Restraint begins with giving up one’s own ideas.
This depends on Virtue gathered in the past.
If there is a good store of Virtue, then nothing is impossible.
If nothing is impossible, then there are no limits.
If a man knows no limits, then he is fit to be a ruler.
The mother principle of ruling holds good for a long time.
This is called having deep roots and a firm foundation,
The Tao of long life and eternal vision.

Working in Dialogue means giving up your role as expert and engaging with all others as if they were the only voices that matter. Dialogic design is our process of designing social systems and complex services in participatory design dialogue.

Dialogue enables people to listen to each other on issues of common concern, going beyond what they personally think is important, to find common roots the deep issues that dynamically influence their situation. Informed with the knowledge of what is really driving their situation, people move forward with enthusiasm and commitment, working together in a designed future co-constructed by dialogue.

We bring Structured Dialogic Design (SDD) to the table to facilitate deep and disciplined dialogue. SDD honors individual autonomy in the group dialogue, respecting each contribution, and allowing their careful clarification. It does this in such a way that every participant engages with equal influence. Hierarchies of power, expertise, and personality are harmonized or flattened. When everyone has submitted their answers to a triggering question and clarified them, the tension goes out of the room as everyone feels that they have been heard. The group has formed in mutual respect and with an agreed upon vocabulary.

The intellectual underpinnings of our approach to Dialogue can be found in the work of the following thinkers:

Socrates Socratic Dialogues

H-G Gadamer Horizons of Understanding

H. Ozbekhan Toward a general theory of Planning

J. Habermas A Dialogue on 9/11

David Bohm
Dialogue – A Proposal

J. Warfield Galleries of Interactive Management

Aleco Christakis A People Science