Nancy Dixon condenses years of practice and experience into a single post: What Makes Organizational Conversations Effective? Participant Skill or Skillful Design?.
I guess the very short answer to the question is: both. And I know Viv will be cheering this bit:
The most effective way to have learningful conversations in an organization is to disrupt the dysfunctional conversational practices that are occurring. Both training and skillful design can disrupt those patterns.
I think that any practice or recommended set of skills will create it’s shadow side. Even with a good model of how to carry on a conversation, people will demonstrate compliance but still “cheat” (eg be well behaved in formal meetings and gossip in the corridors). Anyone involved will have to make judgements about whether this is just fine, is in fact highly creative, or actually a bad thing… and then decide whether to act on that judgement. One man’s dysfunctional practice is another man’s creative process…