Action Dialogues: Meaningful Conversations to Accelerate Change

By Debbe Kennedy

Meant to be used optimally as a part of Debbe Kennedy's Diversity Breakthrough! Strategic Action series, this is a simple pack of 52 glossy cards, each isolating specific roadblocks that organizations commonly face when looking to launch a diversity initiative. The first, for example, reads, "Our leadership team does not reflect our stated commitment to inclusion." Another reads, "Resistance to change keeps diversity out of reach."

Grouped into seven areas--leadership, culture, involvement, the business, strategies and measures, staffing, and ownership--they can be passed out in groups of any size to allow participants to literally "put their cards on the table" about internal issues they'd rather not bring up aloud. (And, yes, they do come with a brief but useful user's guide with a foreword by the Drucker Foundation's Frances Hesselbein.) They're not only a brilliant icebreaker for this potent topic but a good first step toward isolating specific areas of strength and weakness within an organization when it comes to diversity.

The cards can be used alone or in conjunction with the six booklets in the Strategic Action series, each of which focuses on a crucial phase in what author Kennedy, a veteran consultant and a former manager of Equal Opportunity and human resources at IBM, calls the "imperfect circle" of change: "Assessment," "Acceptance," "Action," "Accountability," "Achievement," and--you guessed it--"More Action." Each booklet comes with self-assessment tools, concrete action strategies to mobilize change, fun and quick action-planning worksheets, and firsthand accounts from leaders at an impressive variety of organizations, from big companies to small nonprofits, that explains how they met the challenge of walking-the-talk with diversity. Each concise, 64-page booklet is as adaptable to an organization-wide initiative or a small group effort as it is to a single individual's nighttime reading and enrichment (where organizational change, after all, often begins).

Managers, consultants, and trainers can use these Action Dialogue cards independently as an assessment tool before launching a diversity initiative or in conjunction with the Strategic Action booklets as add-ons. The cards are really the touchstone in a highly integrated program that demystifies diversity management and accords it the seriousness it deserves. --Timothy Murphy

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