Posted by: ginalazenby | November 12, 2008

Lekgotla: Creative Dialogue Tool

Lekgotla - a circle meeting where all voices are heardI have just come back from Bali where I used this Creative Dialogue tool at the   Wealth Dynamics Master Practitioner Conference. Following the interest in it I am posting here how to run one. It is actually a brilliant community building tool. I was trained in it when I was certified as a Facilitator in the Nine Conversations of Leadership (9C). I was very attracted to this material because it comes out of Africa and I am always interested in “new” tools that have deeper roots than western/American business psychology. We need some new ideas and perspectives so I am always attracted to what I feel is real wisdom!! Here is a description of the process with links below for further info I found on the web (not much out there). It’s easy and useful when you have any group who want to listen to each other intelligently and build powerful and sustainable solutions, for any area of life and work.

Lekgotla (pronouced le-hot-lah) is a planning or strategy meeting, an old African method for ensuring all voices are heard. Kgotla is a Setswana word for public place for consultative meetings and Lekgotla is the process of where, when and how it takes place, usually under the direction of a wise elder. A great tool for collaboration. There is a traditional saying that “A chief is a chief by the grace of his tribe”. In other words he has to ask them what they want and listen. The whole premise of the 9C Leadership programme is to extract the solutions an organisation needs from the people within who will have the answers, whether they realise it or not. The wisdom required for the organisation to move forward and flourish is extracted through a series of conversations and the Lekgotla is one of the tools to do this. What makes it different is that a process is put in place for everyone to speak and the atmosphere created allows answers and ideas to emerge from the group, that were not necessarily apparent when everyone sat down.

How to run a Lekgotla
1 Keep the group size small (up to about 10-12).
2 Sit in a quiet place in a circle, either on chairs or on the floor. It’s great to hold this outside, weather permitting.
3 Anyone can be nominated as Leader or someone can put themselves forward.
4 The Leader frames the question or topic to be discussed.
5 The Leader brings to the circle some kind of “talking stick” that has significance to them personally, or the group or the subject to be discussed.
6 The Leader chooses who to give the stick to first and then it is passed round the circle, either left to right, one person at a time. The Leader does not give input until the end of the process. (The Leader will decide if a second turn is needed round the circle.)
7 As each person receives the stick they then speak what is in their hearts. People feel they have to prepare a speech in advance but by doing this they are not listening when others are speaking (you cannot listen AND prepare your response). It is most fruitful to remain completely present to each person’s contribution, then when your turn comes, you will find that the words that need to be spoken in that moment will come through and everybody will be listening fully. It really is a blessed experience and can sometimes stir up emotions for people.
8 The Leader’s role is to listen then at the end they assess all contributions, summarise the inputs, check the group agrees, then put forward a decision if that was the purpose of that Lekgotla.
9 The Lekgotla circle closes. Don’t hold a different conversation within that circle, keep the rhythm or close it.

Try one and let me know how you get on.

It is really magical and you will find communication will become truly transformational. You can also use this a simple check-in tool at the start of any kind of event or even in the office at the beginning of the day. (If you are a team of say 16, try this as one group and two groups of 8 to feel the difference.) People can share one by one how they are and what they feel. The Leader will be picking up the themes and patterns that come out of the group sharing and may well offer some action to be taken as a result of the honest communication that has been offered – a depth of communication that probably would not have happened without this tool. It really does create a sacred space and is very transportable through all levels of business. It’s also a great way of ensuring input from everyone especially when you have a high ratio of more extrovert, expressive individuals (in Wealth Dynamics these are known as Creator/Star/Supporter profiles) who are always eager to share whilst other profiles can tend to hang back and can miss their opportunity to contribute.

A powerpoint review of successful use of Lekgotlas by Government in South Africa:

The 9C programme with more about Lekgotlas:…

More about the Nine Conversations of Leadership:

Try running your next meeting or discussion group as a Lekgotla.  What was your experience?


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