3 ways to enrich generative conversations

In generative conversations, we're interested in growing new common approaches to a question, dilemma or idea. I promote three key practices to do this: pathways, polarities and prototyping. 

In biochemistry pathways are catalytic interactions that transform substances. Drawing from the research in collaborative creativity for my first book in 1996, I use a four dimensional model for growing ideas: like, so, and and else. People are encouraged to respond to new ideas with what they value about them (Like), what questions they have about them (So...?) , what they would add to strengthen the idea (And) and what would otherwise provide the same function (Else.) 

Polarities are functional opposites like fast-slow, quality-speed and protect-liberate. They cannot be eliminated, only managed. We identify the advantages and disadvantages of both sides of any polarity and then strategize about how to minimize disadvantages and optimize advantages. This unites people around tensions that would otherwise divide them.

Prototypes are small-scale real-context experiments with new approaches in order to use data rather than discussion to assess and grow any approaches considered. Prototyping success is measured in learning not proving nor disproving. Sequential iterations of prototyping refines and develops seed possibilities. The conversations here include: What's the smallest version (minimum viable product) we can test? What will we measure? What worked and what would we do differently in next iterations?

Pathways, polarities and prototypes are simple practices designed to align any group in cultivating new possibilities so they grow into realistic and impactful approaches. It takes many groups time to learn and master these in their collaborations. They are rewarded for their efforts.