Co-creation & Exceptionality Meetings Online (CEMOs): Leveraging the Power of Dialogue to Co-create Sustainable Futures

Author: Justine Chinoperekweyi, Ph.D.,
*Working Article, ver.01, Dec.2020
“Somewhere along the way we humans forgot how to come together to have conversations that matter” Larry Dressler
Enhancing career foresight is a central theme in co-creating sustainable futures, sustaining exceptionality, and living an integrated life. Dialogue is an essential element to enhancing career foresight. The power of dialogue rests in its ability to foster generativity and develop new possibilities, altering prevailing narratives and stories; and working with self-organizing, emerging properties. In view of the need for dialectical models in leading sustainable strategic change, Co-creation & Exceptionality Meetings Online (CEMOs) leverages the power of dialogue in curating knowledge and know-how, connecting people to their ultimate purpose & passion, developing viable alternatives to creating a vision, plan courses of action, and implement action interventions. There are authentically deep connections that emerge when these conversations are properly executed.

The social distancing and other precautionary measures as a result of Covid-19 have deepened the challenge of coming together to have conversations. Globalization and the advent of technology have facilitated geographic expansion of organizations and mobility of people. There is therefore an increase in distributed teams and families. There is no better time to emphasize conversations than now. In facilitating Individual and Group coaching & mentorship programs, I am using the Co-creation & Exceptionality Meetings Online (CEMOs). The Online aspect of our engagement recognized the current reality of virtual applications in the digitized world. In view of the Inquiry-based and Project-based engagements under CEMOs, amazingly interactive platforms have been developed to facilitate individual, small group and even large group conversations. Examples include Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, Mural and so on. The final article will cover how these platforms were used in CEMOs to facilitated transformative conversations.

In applying executing the CEMOs, there is a reliance on theoretical models related to Dialogic Organization Development. Co-creation & Exceptionality Meetings Online (CEMOs) are premised on collaborative and critical discourse & discursive models and guided by Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle in order to grasp and transform experience. This model involves Concrete Experience, Reflective Observation, Abstract Conceptualization, and Active Experimentation. Participants, either Individual or Group, have to travel the learning cycle. Other models that inform the CEMOs include Art of Convening (Neal & Neal, 2011), Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider, 1986), Charretes (Lennertz), Solution Focused Dialogue (Jackson & McKergow, 2002), PeerSpirit Circles (Baldwin & Linnea, 2010), Reflexive Inquiry (Oliver), Co-ordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) Theory and so on. The Art of Convening is used as a powerful force to energize individuals and groups to survive and envision the expansive world of possibilities. The whole idea is to bring authentic engagements to CEMOs. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is used as a strength-based, positive approach to leading CEMOs. CEMOs use Appreciative Inquiry to search for the best in people and groups. “Appreciative Inquiry is about the coevolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them. In its broadest focus, it involves systematic discovery of what gives “life” to a living system when it is most alive, most effective, and most constructively capable in economic, ecological, and human terms.” (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2005). CEMOs also makes use of Charrettes to build momentum for the social and action learning projects that individuals and teams will be working on. The Charrettes model is used in designing sustainable futures. In applying solution focused approaches, CEMO makes use of appreciative questions that promote deep reflection and critical thinking. Through this approach CEMOs help the participants create a picture of the ideal future. The Circle Way is used to facilitate collaboration, especially when dealing with teams. CEMOs make use of the conversational structure of PeerSpirit Circle Process. Reflexive Inquiry is part of CEMOs based on the view that it is defined as “a response triggered by an individual’s dialectical encounter with another (person, culture, text or other part of the self) whereby the individual begins to identify and critically examine his or her knowledge and assumptions” (Qualley, 1994). The Coordinated Management of Meaning is adopted based on its locus of concern which is “the co-construction of our social world – the links between the stories we, in interaction live and the ‘grammatical abilities’ we develop in telling stories in our efforts to make our lives intelligible” Exceptionality Without Relapse (Chinoperekweyi, 2018) principles and practices also guides the conversations. These are seven principles and practices that facilitators need to uphold and inculcate in the conversations.

Roles of the Facilitator under CEMOs
The roles of the CEMO Facilitator are defined by the DIASE Model (Chinoperekweyi, 2018) which emphasizes giving Direction, Inspiration, Affirmation, Support, and Elaboration. Having led numerous conversations across different cultural settings, the following are the key roles of the Facilitator under CEMOs.
• Model of Core Values & Beliefs
• Accountability Partner,
• Trusted Advisor,
• Risk & Scenario Planner,
• Encouraging Listener,
• Inspirational Motivator,
• Networking Partner, and
• Action & Implementation Partner.

Based on the above roles and the application of theoretical frameworks elaborated above, real case studies will be developed to inform future engagements and to deepen social learning dimension of COLDC, DDCP and TMCP professional projects by Centre for Organization Leadership & Development – COLD.

Can anyone become a CEMOs facilitator? Of course No, however some of the essential leadership traits are:
• Mission focused – this is the application of phenomenological reductionism to the dialogue. The Facilitator should constantly bring discussions and decision-making to the fundamental purposes.
• Visionary – this encompasses the ability to see alternative futures and scenarios and inspiring the client to their vision. The ability to create visionaries is fundamental to the co-creation aspect.
• Analytical – the facilitator should be able to weigh options, risks and benefits and support the client in laying out the rationale for reaching the desired future.
• Objective – the facilitator must invite and consider multiple options and entertain various viewpoints when considering decisions.

The following are some of the CEMOs social and action learning engagements that I am applying these concepts and furthering Dialogic Organization Development (OD):
• OD work for a start-up construction project
• Supporting the establishment of a technology-driven, six-elements entrepreneurship incubation centre
• Support the writing of a gender-based, re-orientation, and transformative autobiography
• Scholarly support for post-graduate students in OD, Leadership & Governance
• Scholar-practitioner article reviews and support to ensure depth in transformative value and clarity of philosophical orientation
• Education leadership development project
• Personal & Professional Development Planning sessions
• Public & private sector OD & Change interventions
• OLDN Membership Conversations and International Forums

Dialogic approaches aim to “unleash, catalyze, and support the multitude of motivations and ideas amongst participants” (Bushe & Marshak, 2014). Co-creating sustainable futures leverage the power of conversations. The current decision theoretic working article focuses more on discourse and discursive analysis and methods in order to facilitate transforming conversations. CEMOs recognize that Dialogic OD seeks to promote meaningful conversations. This is the mission of CEMOs.

Are you looking for an Accountability Partner, Trusted Advisor, Action Partner, Encouraging Listener or Implementation Colleague in your career or personal & professional engagements? If Yes, then schedule an appointment for Co-creation & Exceptionality Meetings Online (CEMOs). Never heard about CEMOs? Yes, it’s a results-focused, new approach to igniting insightful conversations and empowering mission-critical scholar-practitioners and/or professionals.

About the Author: Justine Chinoperekweyi, PhD serves as the Director: Academics & Programs at the Centre for Organization Leadership & Development (COLD) Harare, Zimbabwe. He is the Lead Instructor of OD modules such as, Fundamentals of OD, Appreciative Leadership in OD, Methods of Inquiry in OD Practice, OD Tools & Techniques, and Corporate Governance. Chinoperekweyi is also the President of OLD Network, Managing Editor of the Organization Leadership and Development Quarterly (OLDQ), Academic Director and Visiting Faculty in United Arab Emirates. Justine was awarded the ‘2020 Communicating OD Knowledge Award’ by the Organization Development Network, USA.

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