Turning to One Another - Margaret J Wheatley
Turning to One Another100I love quotations, and I have a favorite from Albert Einstein.
“Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

I offer this book as an example of that courage. In a world that bizarrely seeks to make everything more complex, seeks to manage everything through laws and regulations, replaces even the most basic of interactions and relationships with reams of procedures, schedules and instructions, it is an act of genius to cut through it all to see a simple truth.

In this book the simple truth proposed is that the world would be a much better place if we just spent more time in better conversations with each other.

It’s an idea so staggeringly simple, so obvious and so deep rooted in human understanding that it will inevitably evoke one of two responses. It will be ignored as profoundly simplistic, juvenile and irrelevant to the problems of today. Or it will be converted into a procedure, a training program, a revenue generating commodity, applied by people whose misunderstanding of the idea is so profound they see not a hint of irony in their lunacy.

The book draws on the long tradition of the power of conversation throughout human history and how in our search for the complex and suspicion of the simple we have turned this powerful and natural ability into something complex and misunderstood.

Part 1 of the book sets out the idea of conversing and draws on the traditions of our own and more ancient cultures for story telling, sharing and talking.

Part 2 contains some quotations and sketches as a space in which to pause and reflect on the ideas of section 1.

Part 3 has a series of what Margaret J Wheatley calls conversation starters. On first reading these I wasn’t particularly drawn to the idea of having or needing a list of topics as the start points for conversations, but the more I’ve reflected, the more I see these as being a valuable element of the book.
There are ten conversation starters and for each there is an introductory quotation and a short essay which outlines the topic area and provides some ‘talking points’.

By way of example the topics include
3. What do I believe about others?
6. Am I willing to reclaim time to think?
9. When have I experienced working for the common good?

We live in a world that contains over 400 million Harry Potter books. Do your bit to redress the balance and get yourself a copy of this book.

Highly recommended

Steve Unwin
July 2009