customer experience

Opening Up The Dialog Box

A Resonance Test Magazine

February 27, 2020
by Ken GordonToby Bottorf
Dialog Box Hero

Let’s talk. There’s no clearer signal of how good your teams are at innovation than the quality of their conversations. Good conversations help remove the biases and blind spots we’re all prone to. They are how teams define, articulate, and challenge ideas.

We know how important real conversations are, and we know what good sounds like. When someone speaks with us, we listen like shrinks, investigate like detectives, analyze like scientists, and imagine like novelists.

Is the conversation representing diverse perspectives, and building a complete picture of the opportunity or solution space? Is disagreement helping us reveal and resolve some complexity, or is it expressing zero- sum competitiveness? Is our focus on what’s true and meaningful? Does the conversation have momentum and a sense that it’s headed toward a clear conclusion?

Talking things through is at the heart of any innovation process. Because all innovation is the work done with incomplete information, we need to talk through inferences, patterns, and conclusions.

Two questions thread through all this work: What’s going on? and What should we build?

Finding the right idea requires an ability to read subtext, gesture, a shifting tone. It requires an ability to get people: Quickly, well, and often. Real conversations are the essence of our ethnographic research, but also equally crucial to all our interactions in teams and with clients. It’s hard, so we take it seriously, and work hard to orchestrate it.

Fact is, much of the poetry of innovation gets trapped in project rooms and corporate conference spaces. And one of the reasons we started The Resonance Test podcast was to capture and share the sound of these conversations. An interesting conversation is a delight to overhear: intimate, surprising even to the participants. Alive. That’s why we’ve compiled this collection of first-class exchanges in The Dialog Box: A Resonance Test Magazine. We’re delighted to share how we engage with smart friends to get smarter.

There are nine conversations in The Dialog Box. Each one reveals a considerable amount about the interlocutors, and even more about the process of innovation. The experience of reading them is different than listening to them because the text versions make visible the conversational twists and turns. Reading them, we observed that certain conversations shared a particular set of themes, and we’ve grouped them accordingly: Customer experience, business model innovation, and digital transformation. Of course, the exchanges sometimes touch on more than one theme, but what else would you expect? Truly innovative thinking resists containment. All conversations have been edited for clarity and concision.

Read The Dialog Box here.

filed in: customer experience, business model innovation, digital design

About the Author

  • Gordon Ken
    Ken Gordon
    Principal Communications Specialist

    Ken makes Continuum’s work visible to the necessary people. He creates superlative content, works with colleagues to do the same, and employs social networks to share it widely.

    A card-carrying humanist, Ken co-founded QuickMuse, the improvisational writing website, and JEDLAB, the Jewish education community. He has written for TheAtlantic.com, the New York Times, and many other pubs.

    Ken has an English degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an MA in English from the State University of New York at Albany. He framed both diplomas long ago, but can’t seem to find them now—a fact he considers all-too-human.

  • Bottorf Toby
    Toby Bottorf
    VP, Service and Experience Design

    Toby joined Continuum to establish a digital design capability, and is now a VP in service design, leading teams to design solutions for complex human and technical systems. His work builds on a career in UX and interface design.

    Recent work includes Audi on demand, a premium mobility service; the design of a client communications tool for a financial services company; and the strategy and experience design of a digital coaching platform for a leading American health insurer.

    Toby holds a master’s degree in communications design from the Institute of Design (IIT) and a BA in art from Yale University.