Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

PROCESS | Generative Processes

We’re currently working on a stakeholder engagement strategy for one of our projects. In such processes, we’re advocates of generative questions and conversations. As we’ve been developing our blueprint, we’ve been reminded of the richness in these processes that arises from crafting craft effective and  strategic questions. This includes creative and big questions that can spark breakthrough thinking. Such questions  often:

  • are open-ended
  • invite inquiry and discovery
  • surface good ideas and possibilities
  • sustain interest

Generativity is fundamentally about letting the future emerge. Clearly, there is a relationship between generativity and questioning. Gervase Bushe says that a generative approach is a transformational. It is “a quest for new ideas, images and theories, and models that liberate our collective aspirations, alter the social construction of reality and, in the process, make available decisions and actions that weren’t available or didn’t occur to us before.” As Bushe explains, a generative process is comprised of:

  • generative questions
  • generative conversations
  • generative actions

Engagement with stakeholders must be guided by sound principles, which the Presencing Institute identifies as:

  • transparency and trust
  • suspending the voice of judgement
  • openness – of mind (suspend judgement) and of will (best possible future)
  • appreciative listening
  • using presence and silence as a trigger

A generative process is about eliciting conversations that challenge the status quo and creating conditions for rapid, positive change. Engaging with stakeholder is always about relationships – the basis for those relationships and the future of those relationships. It about understanding multiple perspectives because our stakeholders ultimately issue the license to operate in the community.


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