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Posts tagged ‘focused conversation’

Focused conversations – Introducing a New Topic

If you are introducing a group to a new topic, whether in a training session or in an OD workshop where you what to open them up to new ideas and also get them to realise that they probably have some of the knowledge they need already – try this focused conversation.

Focused Conversation


Well Today we’re going to launch into a new topic – [NAME TOPIC] Let’s talk about this a bit. We all have some experience of this area.

Objective Questions

  • When was your first experience of this topic?
  • As you think about this, what images jump into your mind?
  • What are some of the things we already know about this?

Reflective Questions

  • What feelings do you associate with this topic?
  • What are some of your past experiences related to the topic?
  • What colour do you associate with this?
  • What animal does it remind you of?
  • What aspects of it do you enjoy?
  • What don’t you like about it?
  • What is the most challenging things about it?

Interpretative Questions

  • Why is this topic important?
  • How will if affect you? Your work? Other aspects of your life?
  • What are your major questions in this area?

Decisional Questions

  • How can we help each other learn about this topic?


As we share our insights like this, we have already taken the first steps in grasping this topic.


About Endings – Organization Development

I hope that you will forgive a more personal post today, and a diversion of the social psychology series which I have been writing for the last few weeks.  I promise that I will get back on track  next week with the intended post on Minority Influence.

However, today I find that I have been diverted from my normal day as I received a phone call from my mother to tell me of my grandmothers passing.  Endings such as these come with great sadness, my grandmother was a grand lady who in recent years has faded before us suffering from dementia.  It is a cruel disease, made crueller still because of the vibrant lady my grandmother was.


But passing on need not always be a bad thing.  Organization Development means that very often the change that happens results in something ending and endings can be painful.  But just like my grandmother, I can focus on the pain of the ending or I can reflect on the past, remembering the things that my grandmother has added to my life.

When working with teams and individuals in organization development interventions I always focus on the positives. I use focused conversation and appreciative inquiry techniques to help people focus on their strengths which can then be taken forward to make the changes needed within the organization, team or individual performance.  When moving a team forward away from the past it is important not to dismiss or mourn what has been, but rather celebrate all that has been good that we can take forward into the future.

So as we wave goodbye to something that has ended, and like me, replace sadness with a time of reflection on the good that has been, I ask that you consider the following questions before we allow ourselves to lose all that is Good about what has been. Reflect on the past for just a moment. We all have memories of key events in the life of your Organization, Team or our own life.

  1. What are some events and accomplishments in your organization/team/for yourself for the last ten years?
  2. What for you have been high points in the life of your Organization/Team/for yourself?
  3. What do you associate with these high points?
  4. What have been low points?
  5. What do you remember about the low points?
  6. If you were going to divide the last 10 years up into three parts where would you put the divisions?
  7. What title would you put on these three periods?
  8. What have we learned from this 10 year journey?
  9. What does that tell us about who we are now and where we need to go in the future?

Notice the language you use when focusing on the past, what learnings can you utilize from the past as a launch pad for the future. Experience for yourself being part of a larger picture and heal any wounds from the past. Address any ‘sacred cows’ that need to be slaughtered.

As you look at your answers to these questions, What are you struck by?

I believe that our past accomplishments tell us we can have a GREAT future.