Between 2004 and 2007 I was Director of the Policy Analysis Office (ANA) in the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. It was an exhilarating time. When ANA was dissolved, as part of one of many austerity drives, its mourners did not only include us who built it up but, I think I can safely say, the whole MFA. My thee collaborators and I did not see ourselves as intellectual whizkids (a sure way to get into trouble with the line departments), but as the MFA’s gardeners or midwives. We did not claim to invent, our aim wa sto liberate and channel the considerable founts of intellectual and creative energy in the Ministry.

Apart from conventional analysis projects, always undertaken as joint ventures with the line departments, we set up a ”Forum for Inquring Minds” and a series of ”idea papers” to which anyone was free to contribut. One form of analysis which proved extremely fruitful, and which I have used since (click here and you’ll find a example) was the so-called ”idea conversation”. I am convinced that the working methods we developed at ANA can be successfully applied in any kind of knowledge organization.

Lately, I have become interested in the combination conversation-reflective writing. Good conversation can be a way of exploring ourselves and our relationship with the written language, and through that with other people and the world. For four years, the philosopher Maria Hammarén, my neighbours John and Lisbeth and myself have organized a summer workshop on reflective writing in John's and Lisbeth's lovingly restored art nouveau pension in our village Vikarbyn, in the province of Dalarna in Sweden.

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