The team learning discipline helps a team sustain and reinforce its learning, and increases the capacity to act synergistically and learn how to learn. Dialogue is a fundamental skill in the discipline of team learning, and is essential to the effective practice of the other learning disciplines. Dialogue makes meaningful, shared vision building possible. It makes systemic insight possible by facilitating reflection and inquiry in work groups. Consequently, it is important to understand the value and nature of dialogue, and how it differs from other forms of conversation.

To deepen your understanding, you are encouraged to consider the questions below and discuss them with a fellow learner, a work associate, an interested friend, or a member of the business community.

Review The Ladder of Inference multimedia piece in the Resources. Consider the meaning of this concept and your experience using it. What suggestions do you have for self-improvement when using it next time? How might the ladder of inference apply to communication within an organization? How might it diminish effectiveness in terms of organizational learning? Can dialogue play a useful role? If so, how?
Consider how dialogue can allow ostensibly conflicting allegiances or differences (for example, unionized labor and management) while allowing an organization to learn as a common entity.

Assessment Instructions
Analyze how ground rules and dialogue can be used to grow a learning organization. Address the following elements:

Describe the differences between debate, discussion, and dialogue.
Analyze the value of dialogue in helping a team learn and change.
What are the ground rules required to reach this level of conversation?
Describe what you are learning about how to design an effective dialogue session.
Analyze the ease or difficulty of conversing at this level. Comment on the dangers and obstacles.