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Learn more about Dialogic OD in One Minute!

What is Dialogic OD?

Dialogic Organization Development is the theory base that underlies effective Change Leadership. Key differences between change management and change leadership are shown in the table below.


Dialogic OD is a label used to distinguish a mindset about organizations, leadership and change that is different from foundational Diagnostic OD. Gervase Bushe and Bob Marshak introduced the concept in 2009 to show that new forms of organization development had emerged since the mid 1980s (like appreciative inquiry, future search, open space, and world café, among many others) that did not conform with, and in some ways violated, central principles of OD found in textbooks and taught in graduate programs. Since then, theory and research on Dialogic OD has expanded rapidly. Bushe and Marshak argue that each OD practitioner is likely to use a unique combination of diagnostic and dialogic mindsets in their practice.


Bushe and Marshak’s research led them to conclude that what makes the difference between successful and unsuccessful change leadership is NOT the tools or techniques one uses, but the mindset of the leaders and consultants using those tools.

In the 2015 textbook on Dialogic Organization Development, MIT Professor Emeritus Edgar Schein suggests that Dialogic OD, and the many new techniques that can be used for change leadership, may have emerged because organizational problems are now more complex, ambiguous, and uncertain. Since then, the idea that change management is better suited to complicated, technical problems and a Dialogic OD mindset is better suited to complex, adaptive challenges, has been echoed by others.

However, a 2022 study published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science found that, regardless of the type of change, when leaders only use a change management approach, they fail 2/3 times but when they incorporate a dialogic mindset they succeed 9/10 times.

All the courses in the BMI OD Series provide practical, hands-on applications of the Dialogic Mindset to a variety of issues in Change Leadership.

The Three Enablers of Change from the Dialogic Mindset 


  • Stimulate the processes of disruption and emergence to facilitate self-organizing that creates new pattens of organizing better suited to current needs and conditions.



  • Change the core narratives that guide thinking and acting.



  • Create generative conversations that produce new ideas and allow people to think and act in ways they couldn’t consider before.

Types of Dialogic OD Taught in the BMI Series

Some Dialogic OD methods are “episodic” – they have a beginning, middle, and end.


Some are “continuous” – the practitioner partners up with the client system in an ongoing OD process.

Some dialogic methods are “large group” – they use a generative change approach to engage the stakeholders who will have to change in generative conversations that will lead to self-initiated, emergent, changes.


Some are “interactive” – these are sometimes called dialogic process consulting; they work by disrupting stale, habitual, ineffective patterns of interactions to provoke generative conversations that lead to new patterns emerging and new narratives being formed.

Join us to learn from experienced practitioners, teachers, and thought leaders in each of these fields of Dialogic OD. Courses are open to both new and experienced participants, and the course hours can build towards certification as a Dialogic OD Professional practitioner

Generative Change and Dialogic OD

The Dialogic Mindset gravitates toward generative change processes, instead of planned change processes. Instead of providing visions and top down implementation of plans, generative change leaders host conversations where diverse views and ideas lead to the emergence of new possibilities. Participants are encouraged and supported in advancing new ways of talking, thinking and acting. Successful advances and adaptations, along with new supporting narratives, are spread through-out the system. Leaders endorse and provide resources to these activities, but do not direct them.

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