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Having a model for different styles of conversations has exponentially improved my ability to drive insight, adaptation, and change through focused dialog.

The six types provide a structure for framing conversations that spark creativity, challenge assumptions, make connections, maintain focus, translate complexity, and envision the future. Mastering this full spectrum of strategic dialog is critical to accelerating change in today’s turbulent times. I’ll show you how to put each style into practice.

How can organizations adapt in the face of increasing disruption? The answer lies in changing strategic conversations across the organization. In the face of increasing complexity, the communication patterns that leaders fall back on by default can either accelerate change or hinder agility. More than ever, the way you talk and communicate needs to evolve.

In the Enterprise Agility Way of Thinking (EAWT), we encourage the Six Types of Strategic Conversations to deal with new scenarios and high uncertainty. These are excellent starting points to cultivate new skills and help you frame better open questions.

Practicing these strategic dialogs can sharpen awareness, foster innovation, and mobilize people toward shared progress. Remember that conversations reframe thinking and perspectives. We are what we know, but we also are what we can collectively see or discuss.

If we take a look at the science, neuroscience shows that human cognition is significantly enhanced by social interaction and dialog. The discourse you engage in forms neural connections challenges assumptions, and encourages new ways of thinking. This also helps to mobilize people in exceptional times and influence their behavior.

This highlights the importance of consciously shaping strategic conversations, magnifying the company’s Collective capabilities, and sensing opportunities. Certain forms of questions strengthen specific cognitive and strategic skills required for highly changing environments. By linking complementary dialog forms, you can develop the collective intelligence and capabilities to recognize emerging threats, seize new opportunities, and boldly adapt.

These Six Types of Strategic Conversations can also help coaches develop better strategies for their clients and organization. Let’s take a look at them:

  1. PATTERNS & CONNECTIONS QUESTIONS: Conversations to recognize patterns and make unusual connections. These conversations encourage participants to identify recurring themes, make atypical associations between different ideas or emerging situations, and spot insightful interrelationships. For example, a participant might find parallels between challenges in separate business units or link an emerging customer need with an underutilized internal capability. By recognizing these types of patterns and connections, conversations can reveal breakthrough innovations, strategies, and insights. The nonlinear, creative thinking required for this type of dialogue is supported by the Enterprise Agility Accelerated Change Principle #1, Multiple perspectives help your company navigate the new reality,” and #6, Neurodiversity is a competitive edge in complex market environments” (check more about it in my new book, Chapter 6). It can lead to new syntheses and mental models that provide a competitive advantage.
  2. SHARP QUESTIONS: Conversations to ask incisive questions and challenge assumptions or help reframe. This conversation promotes critical analysis and constructive skepticism by using targeted questioning to interrogate unexamined beliefs, accepted groupthink, and status quo norms. For example, conversations may challenge the rationale behind current practices, reconsider so-called industry truths, and scrutinize the accuracy of mental models. By asking incisive questions, participants can disrupt stagnant thinking, expose faulty assumptions, and open new lines of productive inquiry. This aligns with the Enterprise Agility Accelerated Change Principle #7: “Intellectual humility is a catalyst for adaptation and growth.
  3. DISCIPLINED FOCUS QUESTIONS: Conversations that help maintain a disciplined focus. This type of conversation cultivates rigorous focus and tenacity by keeping participants concentrated on analyzing priority issues deeply without distraction. For example, the group resists going down tangents, continually reinforces the explored problem statement, and demands evidence and logic to back opinions. By maintaining focus, conversations can achieve deeper levels of understanding, creativity, and insight. This models the Enterprise Agility accelerated change principle #2: Disciplined focus is an opportunity to increase performance.
  4. BROAD FOCUS QUESTIONS: Conversations to maintain a broad focus. This conversation encourages expansive thinking by exploring diverse ideas and concepts beyond just the core issue or problem. For example, the dialogue may draw parallels to other industries, incorporate interdisciplinary perspectives, or leverage the diverse cognitive approaches of group members. By maintaining a broad focus, conversations can stimulate creativity, cross-pollination, and new associations between disparate ideas. This aligns with the Enterprise Agility accelerated change principle #5 “Equity, Diversity, and inclusion are key contributors to business success.
  5. VISUALIZATION QUESTIONS: Conversations to visualize what others describe verbally. This type of conversation utilizes visual-spatial processing skills to capture complex narratives in diagrams, models, simulations, and other visual formats (Check Enterprise Social Visibility ESV). For example, a participant may map out a new process workflow based on verbal instructions or sketch a system dynamics model based on a verbal description. By translating verbal explanations into visuals, groups build clarity, alignment, and shared mental models. This aligns with the Enterprise Agility accelerated change principle #9: Memorable learning experiences enhance ownership and productivity.
  6. FUTURE THINKING QUESTIONS: Conversations to imagine and explore possible futures. This conversation activates strategic foresight by envisioning future scenarios, innovations, risks, and outcomes. For example, the group might project trends 1–3 years out, anticipate potential disruptions, or brainstorm future-ready strategies. By imagining and discussing possible futures, participants expand perspectives, reveal blindspots, and build critical organizational capabilities to sense and respond to change. This aligns with Future Thinking, an important part of the TriValue Company Model.

As a leader or consultant, consider how integrating these six conversational styles could exponentially improve your and others’ Mental Agility. I recommend practicing them every day! To do so, try to adopt one conversational style each day.

For example, in retrospectives or meetings, you can lay out cards with the names of each type of conversation. Let the team members take a card and write their contributions in this style. This way, organizational competence is strengthened through different ways of communicating, thinking, and working together.

From an Enterprise Agility Way of Thinking (EAWT), mastering these strategic dialogs is critical to discovering new ideas, evolving culture, recognizing market changes, and fostering continuous innovation. They can also help you build Adaptive Trust.

Mastering Strategic Conversations as an Agile Coach

As a coach or Agile coach operating in an increasingly complex world, the quality of your strategic conversations directly impacts your ability to influence successful change in organizations. The way you communicate, ask questions and make connections influences the readinessresponsivenessand innovation of your team and improves the Mental Agility of everyone involved. This approach can exponentially improve your ability to achieve breakthroughs and change the mindset of your customers. By consciously using these different styles of dialog, you can raise their awareness, encourage innovation and help mobilize them towards a new reality.

Practicing these conversations can help you and your clients build shared mental models, prepare for change, and drive continuous innovation. Over time, you’ll be able to seamlessly use the full range of conversational styles to maximize your impact.

Mastering Strategic Conversations as a Leader

They are critical to aligning people with new strategies and influencing organizational culture and change. How you communicate, ask questions and make connections influences organization-wide readinessresponsivenessinnovation, and alignment.

By using different conversational styles, you can clearly articulate the rationale for strategic change to build understanding, ask incisive questions to challenge assumptions, and stimulate new thinking. It can also help people maintain focus on new strategic priorities during implementation, explore ideas from across the organization to enrich execution, translate complex strategies into compelling visual narratives, and create future scenarios to prepare the organization for change.

In addition, these conversation skills enable you to communicate strategic narratives to external stakeholders more effectively. Whether it’s customers, partners, regulators, or suppliers, the ability to clearly communicate priorities, ask pointed questions and visualize future states is essential.

As you can see, you can use the Six Types of Strategic Conversations to expand insights, spark innovation, and mobilize people toward shared progress. With practice, your conversations can become a powerful catalyst for your organization’s agility.

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