Generative Communications



Generative Communications comes out of the work in Neural Linguistic Programming (NLP) started in the 1960s. The idea behind it is that the words we use to communicate are often unclear to others and, without a shared understanding, the chance of miscommunication is high. In addition, some words carry more clarity than others and actually generate better conversations (as opposed to generating more misunderstanding). If we are careful to define and adopt certain terms, using them in our communication, we can greatly improve the quality of not only our communication, but our collaboration with others and, ultimately, the actions we all take.

These techniques have been used and evolved over decades by leaders, such as Bob Dunham, of the Generative Leadership Institute. I was fortunately to learn it directly from him over a semester or more when I earned my MBA. Sadly, there are still few materials or opportunities to learn about this, since much of it needs to be learned in practice—by doing. In this way, This is similar to learning to drive (book will only help inform you so much but when you sit in the driver’s seat for the first time, you realize they only take you so far).

By far, this was the most important and valuable course during my MBA program, as it was also in the DMBA program (I made sure to make it an integral part of the curriculum). These are skills that everyone will use throughout their lives, even if they never have to work again. They also apply to personal communications just as much as professional communications.

I’ve created and have been evolving a map of the fundamentals of the learnings from this discipline, and added a few of my own. However, this map functions better as a mnemonic for those who have already learned about Generative Communication, rather than an introduction for newbies. Still, it’s about all that exists to start learning and using, aside from signing-up for a workshop. This is one of those areas that could use a lot more work.

Download the Map:
Generative Innovation Map

Other Resources:
Generative Leadership Institute, led by Bob Dunham, (still the only place I know of to get explicit training in this)