Dialogue Education

This Customer Case focuses on the ongoing change process within a (very) large educational organization, and how dialogue with 1,000s of stakeholders shaped strategy. They are getting ready to adopt a curriculum based on professional tasks. The knowledge and skill development being taught will be constantly tailored to the professional tasks. This curriculum must represent a significant, policy-based issue and change process. This process is a substantial task, and the organization enlisted the help of several colleagues willing to commit to this and formed a project team. They first started to investigate whether there was a need for change and why they should change the training program. That preliminary process took quite some time. Once they decided this was the way to go, the next step was to reformulate the professional tasks. That is when CircleLytics Dialogue got involved.

Curious? Plan your demo or just an exchange of thoughts with the CircleLytics team here.

How to reach everyone? Through dialogue!

The professional tasks are the basis: what are the main ingredients of the teaching profession, and what tasks are involved? So, the team set out to gather answers from teachers within our educational organization, students and primary school teachers working in the field. This last group was essential to the organization because they do the actual work and the organization has much contact with them.

Organizational management: “In the past, we had used surveys, but the response was often low or not all target groups participated in similar numbers. The CircleLytics dialogue involves a broad group of people, so there’s no risk of always asking the same group of people for their opinions or the same people responding. The online dialogue’s attractiveness and high response rate provide a representative picture of the current state of affairs. The dialogue is innovative, reaches more people and provides a broad understanding of their answers and everyone’s appreciation for those answers.”

Good preparation helps achieve the desired response

They started by determining the right questions. That took some time, but the question design was essential to receive the answers that were needed. “We did not want to use the term ‘professional tasks’ because teachers in primary education do not use it, but we had to make clear that we were talking about professional tasks. The risk was that people within our organization would start to list their current professional tasks, which we wanted to avoid. Constructing the right question and determining who would send the e-mail message was a complicated assignment. CircleLytics provided the right guidance throughout the process. There was room for quick consultations, and we were well advised about what we should and shouldn’t do.”

“In the end, our dialogue consisted of two open questions and a profile question (closed, multiple choice). The first question was about the content of professional tasks; the second question left the respondent free to tell us more about their frustrations or desired changes. Both were open questions with a unique second round (dialogue), where participants appreciated each other’s answers. And finally, we wanted to know which target group the respondent belonged to.”

Positively surprised by the dialogue

The most striking result was the high response and the equal distribution among all target groups, which we are very pleased with. The questions were sent out to approximately 4,000 people, and 700 responded. That is a higher response than any survey we sent out before, and the qualitative value is extremely high. We got very positive reactions, and people felt heard and seen. In addition, the reliability is high: the response is twice the response required for reliable, representative research. The CircleLytics team also told us that the response rate increases even further once people get to know the dialogue process and experience that it really isn’t a survey and their opinions are really wanted.”

“For us, the outcomes of the dialogue feel like a victory. With these results, we now have a good picture of what is happening in all our target groups. This input has enabled us to give well-founded advice. We also actively promoted participation in advance. We visited people and told them that if they wanted to influence the future of this training program, they should seize this opportunity to participate in this dialogue.”

Read here also what health care institute Spaarne Gasthuis says re collaboration, team dialogues and manager actions.

Online dialogue and sentiment analysis: innovative approach

The organization continues: “The dialogue is entirely anonymous and it is inspiring because you see the responses of others. This also gives people different insights during the process; on closer inspection, they might prefer answers that differ from their own. This reflection is essential. The dialogue encourages you to think; I have not seen this implemented in this manner in our industry before. Preparation takes time because it takes time to think about what you want to know and to formulate the right open question. Next time we apply the process, we will be familiar with the platform!

Before we started, we informed colleagues in our educational institution that we intended to look for their input. I wasn’t familiar with the dialogue mechanism, and I am not very tech-savvy, but the platform is very easy-to-use. The collaboration was enjoyable. CircleLytics was easily accessible and quickly came up with solutions. After a thorough demonstration and patient explanation, I was quickly able to search the answers without difficulty. For instance, I can hide answers and build a top (and a bottom) 5 based on the top-rated options or words used. It’s very valuable to see in what context people use these words.”

“Our advice is fully supported by the responses from the collective. We cannot and do not want to ignore this. We are now waiting for certain committees to make their decisions, and then the work can resume based on newly formulated professional tasks. But now we know, from experience, that the right questions provide valuable answers that are supported by a representative target group. We highly recommend the CircleLytics Dialogue to other education colleagues and institutions.”

If you want to know more about what CircleLytics Dialogue can do for the commitment and retention of your people, your change procedures and your organization’s performance, please schedule your introduction meeting or demo now.

 

Deep Democracy Let's Connect Dialoog

Sandra Bouckaert of Bouckaert Deep Democracy Mediation & Coaching is an executive coach; she helps organizational teams & leadership teams in the profit and non-profit sector with collaboration issues often related to conflict, decision-making and communication. Sandra uses the Deep Democracy method and also teaches this method in training courses. She is an expert in dialogue and democratic and conflict skills with any group size, offline and online.

Sandra: “In 2018, I developed the Let’s Connect online dialogue. I used the dialogue mainly for teams within my client base, but then, during the height of the pandemic in 2020, I further developed the dialogue and services to make it available to more people within more (and also larger) organizations. In this scaled-up form, Deep Democracy becomes accessible to more employees than just the management team. Companies with 250 to 20,000 employees can purchase annual Let’s Connect subscriptions to apply the online dialogue method multiple times for specific issues that play within their organization. That works very well. We design the dialogues with them, in co-creation, work out topics and questions, and link the results back, with any follow-up actions that we will supervise.”

Deep Democracy: the minority’s voice is heard

Sandra continues: “When I start working with a client, I conduct an intake interview and then give my recommendations to tackle the issue. My advice is always custom-made. For example, a large entrepreneurial organization with more than 2000 members, and an employee base of more than 200,000 people, requested me to improve the quality of the decision-making process, and specifically to improve the negotiations for the collective bargaining agreements. They had previously used live panels and surveys, but found that to be insufficient. That’s why the online dialogue is so important.”

Curious? Plan your demo or just an exchange of thoughts with the CircleLytics team here.

Fast lead time and short lines of communication

“The entire process, from intake to reporting of the second dialogue, went very smoothly. Within three weeks, we had conducted two dialogues (with two rounds each).

CircleLytics provides the underlying platform for the Let’s Connect proposition. The platform is fast to deploy and delivers real-time results. These are delivered right after the second round and include the sentiments and support of the participants. As a team, we were able to deliver a lot of commitment and flexibility. It soon became clear that we were going to use two separate dialogues, one after the other. The content of the issue is very complex, and I had little experience with this topic. It is great to see that the consultant and chief negotiator quickly understood how the Let’s Connect dialogue worked.

In this respect, the dialogue reflects the people’s desires: they prefer to give their opinions in their own time, without being distracted. After that, they are extremely curious about what others have had to say. The two rounds provide time for reflection without social pressure; they allow your insight to develop by getting to know other perspectives. Minority opinions will have an equal opportunity to be seen and make the difference. It is a scalable form of Deep Democracy. Of course, it is important to find out which question you should be asking and how, to arrive at the right answers that you can use. That is something we are good at; in co-creation with the client, we provide quick solutions.”

Deep Democracy

Sandra continues: “This enables us to quickly start the dialogues. Each round in both dialogues consisted of three questions – the essence of the issues – that asked about job positions. The questions also included some scale questions. The combination of a closed and open answer in one question yields great results. For example: “To what extent do you agree with this statement […….] and above all: can you explain why?” Being able to learn from each other’s motivations in the second round and to distill the leading themes supports and accelerates the decision-making. The process works best when you first slow down and ensure that each (minority) point of view is given an opportunity. After that, the process really speeds up.”

A good preparation

“I recorded a short video message, to warm up the stakeholders and explain clearly what we were going to do. In this video, I told the participating organizations what the Let’s Connect dialogue means and how it differs from a regular survey (because they used those, alongside the dialogue, in the past). I also explained how participants proceed through the dialogue step by step. The scoring in the second round is self-evident but because it is new, it is best to explain the process. The innovative thing here is that in the second round of the dialogue, people can respond to the answers given in the first round. We also touched on that moment of reflection. We have compiled information texts, an article has been published internally, and the introduction mail for the dialogue was also carefully worded: it should be recruiting, to-the-point, with a tone-of-voice that suits the target group and conveys the message that their opinions are valuable.”

Read here also what Philips says re faster manager action, problem solving and dialogue vs survey.

Valuable and impactful results

The next step was to send the first dialogue out to 1300 people. The response was 29%. The client was enthusiastic about this response and about the substantive yield. The response was statistically very valid and representative. There were some new insights, and the client would not have wanted to miss out on these results for their negotiations about the collective bargaining agreements.

“In our reports, we show the most valued (top 5) and least valued (bottom 5) opinions. We used the analysis to examine the platform’s full potential, such as other themes or abnormal or special insights.

There was uniformity about specific points within the different profiles. If there is discord among the participants, the online dialogue will clearly show this. In most cases, the gap between the different opinions will become smaller in the second round. We also see that participants let go of their opinions and become convinced by the new views of others. The reports of these dialogues also show how the different subgroups (business sizes) have reacted, responded to each other’s opinions and inspired each other. The most and least valued opinions are immediately visible in an online dialogue.

The chief negotiator put all the results from the dialogues in a letter to all the members. With this data he was able to substantiate his advice. This new form of co-creation had helped him garnish plenty of support before issuing his advice.

The participants found that the online tool was fast and pleasant to use. They liked being able to express their opinions and said that seeing the comments of others encouraged them to reflect on themselves, which improved their involvement.”

The value of the online dialogue

Sandra: “Let’s Connect’s online dialogues can be used not only in business organizations but also in healthcare, knowledge organizations, government, education, the financial sector and in training. The experience with Let’s Connect within these organizations is that employers want committed employees who feel at home and can use their talents.

The Let’s Connect online dialogue increases employee engagement because people are not gathering frequently in physical meetings at the moment, especially in larger numbers. People are not just working from home; they had already been working remotely, from different departments and different locations, sometimes even different countries. This means that their contact with other-minded people was already limited. Working online, not limited by time or location, allows people to reflect on the opinions of others and reach decisions together.

As soon as you allow and appreciate minority thinking, by using the dialogue, you increase not only the cognitive and creative capacity of the entire organization or the support of decisions and the reflection on those decisions; the quality of the decision-making process also improves. Minority voices want to be heard, and if there is no reaction to their response, they will retreat or even demonstrate sabotaging behavior. Online, without time constraints or social pressure, people with minority opinions can be convinced to change. They will do so frequently because they learn from other perspectives, sometimes from the majority. It is remarkable to notice that the majority also does so and can even rally behind minority views. Through dialogue, they learn from each other. It deepens their understanding of the content and accelerates and strengthens the decision-making.”

If you want to learn more about Deep Democracy and what the Let’s Connect approach and dialogue can mean for your people and organization, please contact Sandra Bouckaert and her team.

 

agility feedforward

We all know Landal GreenParks, with its holiday parks and recreational homes. There are now over 100 holiday parks in 9 European countries. Many of these more than 15,000 homes are owned by third parties. Some 8,000 homes are owned by private individuals. For Landal GreenParks, good communication with all its target groups is essential. That is why they took a good look at their communication with the homeowners and how to develop the owner’s web portal in an agile way.

Landal says: “We already had a magazine, a newsletter and a website to reach the owners, but we wanted to improve the entire communication. So, the magazine received a design make-over. We also increased the frequency of the digital newsletter and started building a new website. We really wanted to involve the homeowners in this agile development, hence to stay in dialogue.”

What do they think of us?

“We consider our homeowners to be involved partners for whom we take care of the rental, administration and management of a holiday park. We really want to know what this positive critical target group thinks of our communication. We want to involve them in this feedback process. There are many (individual) contact moments with the owners, but we are really looking for a way to reach them all, and to let them have a say in this process. We had already organized owner surveys, market surveys and panels, but we were also looking for a way to reach out to all our owners for more agile development of the owner’s web portal. We need to find out what’s going on inside the homeowner group. Based on their input and suggestions we improved our service. We have since updated the website, enabling owners to arrange as much as possible themselves within the same online environment. We used the results of the CircleLytics dialogues to realize the owner’s key needs.”

Read here also what health care institute Spaarne Gasthuis says re collaboration, team dialogues and manager actions.

Deliberate open-ended questions provide sought-after answers

“The collaboration with CircleLytics is enjoyable, and they advised us on how to formulate the questions as pointedly as possible. Being able to link quantitative data to qualitative data is extremely valuable. For instance, if we start by asking ‘How do you rate our services on a scale of 1-10?’ and then ask about the respondents’ motivation or best suggestions immediately following that question, we can truly understand what the figures mean. An important element is asking yourself, beforehand, what you can do with the answers. Can we link concrete actions to it? This is important for our relationship with the owners and their motivation for subsequent dialogues. It greatly optimizes our services, the owner platform, and our communication with the owners.”

The start of the dialogues

“One of the questions from the first dialogue session was: ‘We want to improve our service and communication. What actions do you think we should take?’ We then went to work with these answers. We developed concrete actions from the most widely supported answers, which we then carried out as much as possible, after some internal consultation.

Next, we held the second dialogue session, where we specifically asked: ‘What information do you think should be on the first page of the website once you have logged in? We got many responses and used those to develop the new website homepage. After the website went live, we started a new dialogue a while later. We wanted to use this session to gather suggestions for improving the website’s user-friendliness and tips for further, agile development. For further development of the website, we considered many of the recommendations. For example, one of the owners’ most significant needs was a better insight into the occupation rates and turnover of the recreation homes. Based on this need, we developed a financial dashboard, and the owners are enthusiastic about it.

Curious? Plan your demo or just an exchange of thoughts with the CircleLytics team here.

Proven support

The dialogues provide support, and the second round plays an essential role: it is where participants rate each other’s answers. Their involvement is very valuable and gives us a weighting that lets us understand their most and least important factors. The data we collect during the two question rounds enables us to extract Top 5 and Bottom 5 lists. The most supported feedback (feedforward, actually) becomes apparent and shows us what most owners agree on. The owners will also discuss the answers others gave in the first round. It is true co-creation.

Informed decisions and actions

Landal continues: “Their commitment shows through in the data: they like to participate very actively, and you can see that in the second round, where they read and appreciate or even supplement many of the opinions of others. It is not a gut feeling or an opinion based on what some of the owners or a (small) focus group say. Instead, you get feedback based on numbers and clear recommendations about how to proceed. It gives you a solid document about what your target group thinks. This feedback has also been presented internally. It will show there is support, and we will continue discussing this internally and externally. Each time, we determine which actions we can take. We like to continue these dialogues and the co-creation. The owners tell us that they really appreciate this level of involvement. It enables us to make informed decisions and apply our people, budget and development capacity where the highest value is.”

If you want to learn more about using the online CircleLytics Dialogue and talk about your challenges and ambitions, please get in touch with us.

 

Philips Dialogue Leadership

In 2021, René Schoenmakers was Director of Supply Chain at Philips Health for South America. He was dealing with a lack of engagement and involvement within his team. He wanted to gather feedback from the entire team on specific topics and better, engaged decision-making, and called in CircleLytics to start a dialogue.

Insufficient input from generic survey for decisions

René says: “At Philips, we conduct bi-annual employee engagement surveys. These are standard questions we ask Philips employees worldwide. This survey is intended to gauge the ‘temperature’, asking ourselves, ‘are we still on the right track? It does not yield any qualitative answers that drive my decision making today, because these are closed-ended questions that never vary. The textual answers remain unweighted: I don’t know what importance or sentiment others attribute to them, so I can’t derive reliable, decision-making value from it. We wouldn’t be able to make good comparisons with previous surveys if the questions were varying, so these global engagement surveys with generic questions make sense. But this also means that you cannot put forward specific topics to ask questions about for superior, faster decision-making. You will have to come up with another solution. The survey platform and surveys do not answer the ‘why’ and ‘how can we improve’ questions, to summarize it. 

In a word, the survey is good for its purpose but not for decision making purposes. At Philips, we have high standards and strong ambitions, also when it comes to taking action where necessary. I wanted to gather more qualitative feedback that I could use within my team. So, I took the initiative to use the CircleLytics Dialogue. The Employee Engagement global team supported my choice because the engagement survey is not used for qualitative deepening, let alone co-creation, to tackle and solve (local) challenges together.

I used CircleLytics to ask concrete questions from two perspectives:

  1. I wanted to dive deeper into some (of the many) topics from the global engagement survey where my region achieved insufficient or very high scores. I wanted to understand the why of it all and learn what decisions are crucial.
  2. I wanted to tackle some issues in my own management agenda. I used CircleLytics for co-creation sessions with my people to make them aware, involve them in these issues, understand the root causes, and create solutions.

Curious? Plan your demo or just an exchange of thoughts with the CircleLytics team here.

“People in South America are not as outspoken as the Dutch. They are rather reticent about what is bothering them or what could be improved. That is why Schoenmakers is so enthusiastic about the asynchronous design of the CircleLytics Dialogue. I can reach any team member; they can answer questions anonymously, at their own pace, at their own location, and then rank and comment on the responses of their colleagues in a separate second round. The answers from those who are quick to participate in the first round will not carry more weight in the second round: all input must wait until round 2 starts, and all input is treated equally. Another essential CircleLytics feature is that employees can not only positively but also choose to negatively rate the responses and solutions of others: they can score them with -3, -2, or -1. So, there is room for nuance, but they can also safely choose to reject certain options because an option is risky, unsubstantiated or otherwise not the best option for Philips. Groups can reduce a specific risk by 20-30% by asking questions about it, which is a significant extra benefit of this technology. The response was much higher than I ever would have thought and they showed impressive activity.”

Read here also what Landal GreenParks says re agility, leadership and massive, online co-creation.

Team interactions, diversity of thinking

“My team consisted of 70 employees from four districts. I wanted them to collaborate better, collect ideas from them, and inventory their priorities. I selected the topics for the first dialogue session from the global engagement survey results for South America. We repeated four critical questions (the traditional closed-end question with a score scale) but then extended the question to ask for an open answer, namely “can you give us your concrete explanation”. In round 2, the participants scored each other’s answers and explained their recommendations. This meant a profound dive into the matter after the closed-end questions in the original global engagement survey. For the second dialogue session, I selected a different set of critical questions from the survey. Some of these had scored really high, and some had scored low. I also wanted to learn why the high scores were achieved and how they could be maintained.

I personally came up with the questions for the third dialogue session. For the design of these questions, I held a brainstorming session with my team, and I requested the support of CircleLytics. During the second round of this new dialogue, the employees were once again given their colleagues’ answers from the first round, to assess (scores) and explain their assessment. I had immediate access to the (qualitative) results directly from the dashboard and took these with me to the management team consultation in the afternoon.”

“During that third dialogue session, I asked them about their greatest concerns for the coming months regarding a certain topic. I wanted to know what their first order of business would be if they had my job; what they thought would make people listen to their needs better; and how we could strengthen the collaboration between teams within Philips.”

 

Implement concrete actions: faster and better informed

“The dialogues’ results were not shocking; the most supported answers were already known (or at least to me). This dialogue enabled me to gather the evidence to prove that the answers were also most supported by my team. The CircleLytics results also show the answers with the least support. That is also helpful information: when making decisions and weighing options, you want to know the risks.

However, actively asking for people’s opinions and having those people contribute to the solutions has been a very positive experience. Their feedback on the CircleLytics Dialogue clearly showed that they appreciate the time we take to engage in a dialogue with our people. I now have a new role within Philips, and the challenge for my successor lies in linking these outcomes to concrete actions. From there, he can also engage in more dialogues with the entire team to ask for more in-depth information, monitor and adjust issues, and present new challenges to the group.”

 

Balanced team vision

Truly listening to your team is invaluable. I discussed the dialogue sessions and the results with my supervisor. If you use the dialogue more frequently, raise concrete topics, or ask questions relevant to the team, you will also get more balanced solutions. You actively gather the expert knowledge of the team members, creating a substantial collective mental capacity. The dialogue will lead to a broader team vision; it enables people to think quietly, reflect on their previous answers given, and then share their feedback again. And that feedback often differs greatly from their previous opinion: they have gained more knowledge, and the tool cleverly captures that and applies it in the real-time dashboard.

When using certain techniques, such as live conversations, introverted people will often be reticent about expressing their opinions; others will dominate those conversations and not listen to others. In the dialogue sessions, we allow each employee to participate actively and appreciate the responses of others. In a continent like South America, with its more reserved opinions, the dialogue technique is an effective way to gather feedback. I highly recommend the dialogue technique; it has enabled me to make my decisions more quickly and better, with proven support and commitment from my people. It also actively asks for everyone’s opinion, which is a very positive development.”

Intrigued and curious to see how CircleLytics Dialogue works, creates value and can be launched within days? Plan your meeting instantly here.

 

 

Dialogue

Dialogue is indeed something else than a meeting, a good conversation or a pleasant gathering. Also, online is something else than sitting together in a room. Limited to a few people or a large group? Finish in an hour or time for slowing-down and reflection? What working methods do you choose? Do you combine working methods? In this blog we will tell you how we see it, bringing in our knowledge and our experience. Nobody wants a meeting culture anymore, and people are already looking for other ways of working than video conferencing as an alternative. Video is still a meeting, with the usual suspects, and that doesn’t feel good. On to a dialogue culture?

Dialogue or conversation? Is there a difference?

Yes, absolutely. A conversation is an exchange of all kinds of information. How are you doing? How is your project going? What have you learned? Shall we go through our presentation again? How shall we handle our conversation with the prospect tomorrow? You probably have these kinds of conversations and (video) meetings all day long with colleagues or a whole team. In our opinion, a good conversation or a good meeting is an effective exchange of information (preferably also an empathic one), where try to listen well and, for example, make agreements. A dialogue is something else, a very different, new way of working (even though the word dialogue is used all the time). You are in dialogue when you actively seek out how others see things, other than how you see them. You want to learn from this, and for others to do the same among themselves. Afterwards, you – or together with others – will arrive at new insights. Different insights and therefore choices than anyone could have imagined. Advancing insights and points of view; dialogue, that’s hard work! Limiting the group size is an easy trap to fall into: you might think that the more people, the more possibilities of each person interacting with others. Of course, and you’re right. That’s the beauty of diversity of thoughts and increasing the group size. Don’t back off you, dialogue requires this high intensity of interaction. And yes, you need technology for scaling up dialogue instead of falling back on old habits of “keeping the group size low to have an effective meeting”. The power of effectiveness lies in the dynamics of true dialogue and including a wide diversity of thoughts. Not a limited set-up.

So far about the dialogue.

Now something about ‘sitting in a room and seeing each other for an hour’.

Seeing is often very pleasant. It is personal. You can also talk about your holiday, work-related gossip about your boss, something fun that you experienced with a client the other day, etc. That personal touch is important for mutual relationships. You get to know each other better and can come to appreciate each other more. This is difficult online. In other words, you would like to keep that personal, that relationship side. But then those other sides, which are a bit less fun …. And they have such a strong impact on the content, on the involvement of people who are not there, on the quality and support of decision-making…

The other side …

A room is limiting

Every meeting room, including the virtual meeting room of Teams or Zoom, is limiting. You can’t just have a discussion with dozens of people, let alone a real dialogue, because then you ‘have’ to listen to each other, and above all learn from everyone, and together come to (completely) new insights and choices. The space of physical or virtual walls limits your possibilities. A group of 5-15 people is often the maximum for such a way of working. And you’re missing a lot of people; their ideas, their experience, their knowledge. This could be a choice; maybe you just don’t want everyone to be able to contribute, or you are afraid that too many people will make listening (and learning) more difficult. Or you are afraid that too large a group will lead to chaos. Valid points if you’re not familiar with new technology, but those types of working methods dó lead to limitations. The question is whether you want that and whether it can be done differently. The latter is a resounding yes. The Future of Work has long since begun, and digital transformation is already having an impact on how we work (together) and how we can better connect with each other. Whether you want it to be different, however …. is up to you. Did you know that larger groups are up to 60% more intelligent than the sum of individual intelligence? And 20% more creative if the group is more diverse?

That clock

It ticks by…. An hour passes quickly, as does a workshop. And yet you would like to be in true dialogue with the whole group. Time to listen, time to reflect, time to learn, and time to come to a supported new choice or idea: all this is quickly lost, what remains is a so-called ‘good’ conversation, a meeting. Another one. Especially the organizer is happy afterwards: we stayed within the time limit because “we don’t want a meeting culture”. The participants themselves leave frustrated but also relieved. Afterwards, they go into dialogue together, or the next day, without that clock ticking. But also without you. So you just don’t know what you’re missing. Literally. And that’s what you’re going to have to deal with along the way. Or they go into sabotage mode: all kinds of light and heavier forms of resistance manifest themselves: from responding late to e-mails, not doing exactly what is asked, whipping up sentiment etc.

Night’s sleep

Remember that everyone’s brain needs a night’s sleep and will think about the issue differently the next day(s). You cannot achieve this with a (virtual) meeting. You would prefer to phase your meeting, to keep it in steps so that everyone can come to their senses. Iterating, in other words. By slowing down you can then speed up more intelligently. Our brain has a fast and a slow thinking phase. We will come back to how the CircleLytics online solution approaches this.

Curious? Plan your demo or just an exchange of thoughts with the CircleLytics team here.

Social influence

Whether you like it or not. People are sensitive to other people with positions, status, power, unpleasant manners, not listening, or who dominate a work format such as meetings. And even if you say: “now please let someone else speak” or “I would like it if we let each other finish”, the tone is set. The tone and social factors influence the result. You run the risk of thinking you have support after the meeting and making weak decisions that cause discontent now or later. Don’t forget that as a manager, you pay their mortgage and they don’t just protest, not directly, if they are not involved, or not taken seriously. When these things accumulate, they become less satisfied, they start to resist. Then they tick it off somewhere on a study by HR. Or vote with their feet when an opportunity arises. Did you know that 30-50% of employees actively seek a new job? Did you know that many ‘departure statistics’ are already well over the top? We learn another perspective on social influence from the following quote, which is about the emergence of consensus in a meeting and the decrease of diversity in the dialogue, with a vulnerable result as a consequence:

“Group discussions, thinking that if you bring a group of people together, those people will tell you their point of view in an honest way. But there’s substantial research showing that that isn’t what happens when a group comes together to discuss anything. Anyone who’s been in a meeting has seen this. Once consensus starts to form, it generates its own momentum. It’s like a snowball that turns into an avalanche of consensus. And at that point, people no longer offer up their true perspective. (Annie Duke in Strategy+Business).”

It can be done differently….

First, a calculation

How many changes and choices are there in your organization that you want to put your heads together for? Do you want to understand together, list the options, make decisions and get on with it? 10 times something big per month?

Let’s say you have 3,000 employees. To gain reliable insights and make decisions, you prefer to hear all their diverse opinions. Statistically speaking, you’re only doing a valid and representative job if you have involved at least 300 employees. With group sizes of 15 people, that’s at least 20 meetings. With 10 major changes/choices a month…. that is more than 200 meetings a month ….

From the perspective of employee engagement and diversity & inclusion, you would really want to involve everyone in issues that affect them. All 3,000 of them! After all, the more diverse and complete the group, the smarter the result and the more involved and inclusive it becomes. It is also enormously motivating to be able to dive into an issue. Did you know that? Is it the same for you?

This means about 3,000 employees, in groups of 15, 200 groups …. 10x a month…. a total of 2,000 meetings. So to get everyone involved in the really big things of the organization…. you would be holding meetings day and night. And how do you record, observe, combine, reflect? And how do you then learn from this? Our answer is: you don’t.

Read here also our blog “More diversity means more dialogue. Our new 2nd round”

Can we agree that it doesn’t work? Agree that nobody will do this..

That is why organizations fall back on the familiar: a few groups, some workshops, unclear composition, limited time, no reflection, and often the same people talking … But manageable and recognizable … employees are not happy and inspired by that. They prefer to co-create and to get their teeth into something. Being useful, being wanted, being recognized, being seen. That’s good, because if they want to and you want multiple perspectives and insights to make better decisions…. 1 +1 = 3, you’d think?

Now for the dialogue as a working method

Dialogue requires you to look for other perspectives and rethink the issue. Together. Preferably with as large a group as possible. Inclusive. Diverse. CircleLytics Dialogue can be used as a working method for groups of 10 to 100,000 people. For the participants it is mutually anonymous, so they can speak freely in the absence of hierarchy, and in the absence of social influence. These are preconditions. The book “Over Dialoog” (about dialogue ed.) by physicist and philosopher David Bohm is worth reading. By the way, did you know that in this book, he describes that the minimum number of people needed for a dialogue is 20? This increases the chance that you are with people who fall outside your immediate team/project group and have different opinions from you, which is necessary: only other opinions are different. Sounds logical.

The dialogue is held in two rounds and lasts a few days, so they are free to think, reflect, sleep on it. That means that today you can approach your 3,000 employees from the example with (open-ended) questions that truly matter, challenge them and involve them transparently in difficult topics. They get to work online, anonymously. The first 100s of answers and ideas roll in and the days after that it continues. A few days later, via a unique 2nd round, they reflect on each other’s anonymous answers: they rate them and enrich them with their own words. This arrives in real time bundled within days, and ready to use in order of ‘most favourite and why’ in your dashboard. Ready to walk the talk!

What are the benefits such a dialogue?

Firstly, speed. A (video) meeting, workshop or digital pressure-cooking session delivers fake speed. By slowing down via 2 rounds, as we do, and giving participants a few days’ time, people think better. Those few days of delay deliver unprecedented benefits later in your decision-making, in the knowledge that you have built a strong support base. Because that’s what you do: build support. You gain support by questioning all the people who are relevant to the issue, or vice versa: who is affected by the issue? People feel involved, they actively participate, and say what they really think. This will truly speed up the implementation of decisions, changes and plans.

Secondly, reliability. The technology helps to process all the data quickly and without error, cluster them. This is to register a change of thinking, how they reacted to each other’s opinions. Everything is in real-time. No manual work. No human errors. No subjective processing of data. You can build on the results of the online dialogue and follow up with decisions. Instantly.

Thirdly, diversity. By collecting so many perspectives from people and letting them learn from each other’s perspectives, you will maximize diversity. This demonstrably benefits your result and reduces risk by up to 30%. It is the different ways of thinking that make decisions so good. Thanks to the structured CircleLytics Dialogue in 2 rounds, there is no longer any risk of your or someone else’s prejudices creeping in and causing you to make mistakes.

diversity of thinking

Towards a culture of dialogue

By setting up these kinds of interventions with the relevant, largest possible group for different subjects, you – as an organization –  will become intelligent, self-learning and quick. You will become more successful as a network organization. Employees are not an organizational chart but a living network. Compare it to your brain to which you are constantly asking questions: from “can I cross here” to “how to react to a new situation”. Together, employees are one big brain. Don’t switch off a part, because you don’t know what you are missing. Your brain, your network of employees know whether they can contribute. They work in your organization on a voluntary basis and can find other work today: give them some credit: they know and see so much!

CircleLytics Dialogue can be used for 100s of situations and topics, such as:

– Co-creation: organizing brainstorm sessions and co-create with any group size and get the most creative results together within days to a maximum of 2 weeks.

– Conducting meetings: ask the relevant, largest group questions and then immediately ask for recommendations and the how/why.

– Continuously adjusting the execution of work/decisions: asking for feedback and feedforward on changes, projects, product launches, etc.

– Management or CEO (lunch) meetings or the Works Council: first make sure you know the concerns of the relevant group of employees, opportunities, obstacles and the questions you want to ask them.

– Taking decisions: present dilemmas, bottlenecks and choices and quickly come to well-founded decisions together

If you want to know more about designing solid, open-ended questions, download our White Paper here, containing 18 principles for designing your own questions. It will help you in dialogues, interviews, workshops and maybe even at home…

Do you combine the online dialogue with offline?

Yes, certainly. Many organizations combine online co-creation with offline meetings for decision-making, project design, budget allocation, and many other things. The enrichment is huge. After the offline meeting, the large group can be re-engaged to organize participatory decision-making and later to monitor and adjust change processes, i.e. continuous improvement. We call such a dialogue culture an expression of distributed leadership and benefitting from hybrid intelligence. Co-creation and dialogue makes everyone – individually and collectively – co-leader of a problem, of the solution, of decision making and of successful implementation. Ready for the Future of Work!

Intrigued and curious to see how CircleLytics Dialogue works, creates value and can be launched within days? Plan your meeting instantly here.

 

SpaarneGasthuis health care dialogue

Spaarne Gasthuis uses regular dialogues to create a culture in which collaboration, co-creation, engagement and better decision-making go hand in hand. With the CircleLytics Dialogue online platform, managers take decisions that are broadly supported by their colleagues, and which come about in a smarter way. Colleagues feel – and above all: truly become – involved and use the brainpower of the group. Moreover, they feel heard and valued because their opinions matter and the solution that is thought up is actually used. Concrete questions, concrete solutions, concrete actions.

How did Germanic tribes do that long ago? Well, the leaders of the group would stand together and discuss plans for the future. People sat down and listened to the leaders. There would be a swelling hissing, rejecting sound, which meant that the listeners did not like the plans. The leaders heard it and knew that there was no support for their plan and that they had to change it. If the people liked the plans, they would make an approving sound, so that the leaders knew where they were at. Leaders or managers within a company or organisation need support for their policies and decisions. Whether they are nurses, doctors and managers or, like in this example, long before the turn of the century, the principle nothing about us without us, is the same. Good leadership understands that employees are the ears and eyes of the organization, and their behaviour and actions determine the organization’s performance.

Creating support through online co-creation

CircleLytics: “The principle of creating support within the group seems to have been lost several decades ago. Instead, companies and organizations are using a different, technical way of decision-making in which time clocks, individual assessment, KPIs and performance packages are central. A more individualistic, hierarchical view of people: “we determine top-down about you, measure individual performance, assess and settle individually and lead on the basis of productivity”. And with that, the connection between people within an organization has disappeared and the mutual learning capacity is lost. That is a pity, because you know more as a group than individually, even as many individuals together.”

 

Employee survey does not work

Spaarne Gasthuis: “Another important fact is that employees want to feel heard. So, filling in an employee survey with multiple choice answers, where you cannot express your opinion and never hear from again, does not work and people are fed up with it. CircleLytics is based on the insights into how we learn and want to be heard. This helps to develop the online dialogue that gives all employees the opportunity to contribute their opinion, knowledge and experience in a structured way. The platform ensures that employees can respond to each other’s opinions and learn from each other, reflect and even come to new insights and make them visible. So they hear from each other immediately and together they influence the mindset. Collaboration. Co-creation.”

Read here also what Philips says re faster manager action and how dialogue goes beyond surveys.

Asking for opinions, co-creation and resolving

Spaarne Gasthuis: “As manager of a department in Spaarne Gasthuis, why not ask the nurses in your team how they think they can spend less time looking for medical equipment? Why would you make that up yourself? The nurses are doing the work and they probably have good ideas. Working together not only gives you the brainpower and creativity of the group; it also ensures engagement, that people feel heard because their opinion matters. They see that something is actually done when you implement the solutions”.

Ask deliberate open-ended question

What does that look like in practice? Because how do you consult and include all 120 colleagues in your department? Or the more than 4,000 employees of the hospital? Managers have no time for dozens (or hundreds…) of personal discussions about a particular problem, but they do want to pay real attention to employees and their ideas so that they learn from each other, seek cooperation and work out what is best. CircleLytics: “Our platform simulates such a conversation online. You start by coming up with a good, stimulating question that challenges the target group to give their input. This could be a current problem, but also questions about why people value the organization, so that more attention can be paid to this. It is important that the manager actually does something with the input that is given and because of the short lead times of the online dialogue ánd clear-cut outcomes of the co-creation this can be done very quickly. In days even.”

Spaarne Gasthuis: “If you identify a problem but do not want to solve it, you should not ask that question. This stimulating open-ended question is given to the employees in a first round. In the second round, the employees can see each other’s answers, learn from them and enrich them by scores and explanations. This is done anonymously so that hierarchy is not an obstacle. The outcome of this second round is an overview of the contributions that are most supported by the employees. You get the sentiment from the people themselves about what others are saying.” CircleLytics: “A nice side effect is that everyone gets the chance to read other solutions or perspectives as well, making the use of dialogue an intervention in itself.”

Curious? Plan your demo or just an exchange of thoughts with the CircleLytics team here.

Marvel superheroes

CircleLytics: “Actually, online dialogue is a lot like Marvel’s superheroes. You use an attribute, in this case technology, to get more out of yourself. To learn more, to be inspired and to see more perspectives. Managers achieve more by harnessing the brainpower of their people. Scientific research shows that thinking about a problem together produces up to 60% more brainpower than thinking about it individually”. Spaarne Gasthuis: “Within a week, the platform has already produced 800 suggestions for solving a problem, with the most supported at the top and why. This is how managers find out what their people know and what they do not understand on their own”.

 

CircleLytics used for Patient safety

Spaarne Gasthuis: “In a certain department of Spaarne Gasthuis, the alarm of a monitor was missed several times within a short period of time. Fortunately, patient safety was not compromised. A measure was immediately taken to reduce this risk. A second screen was placed above the current one in order to display the data in a larger format. A number of other technical solutions turned out not to be feasible in the short term and therefore the colleagues of the department were asked to share their thoughts. What are suggestions that were not thought of before? The question asked in round 1: What is the very first action we need to take to ensure that we don’t miss an alarm on the monitor in a month’s time? And in round 2, the question was: If you agree with the suggestion then give it a positive rating, and if you disagree or do not recognize the suggestion, give it a negative rating. Please explain your answer. The outcome was that the most frequently mentioned solution from round 1 was voted down in round 2. Another solution emerged. This was put forward by a minority, but it could count on broad support among colleagues in the end. For the team leaders the first intervention to solve the problem is now clear, which is a different solution than they initially had in mind“. “By using the online dialogue, they now know which solution has the greatest chance of success”, says Saskia Haasnoot, Strategic Business Partner at Spaarne Gasthuis who uses CircleLytics in cooperation with Spaarne Labs. Together they were curious about the tool and wanted to experiment with it to learn from it. Haasnoot notices the enthusiasm of colleagues for this online dialogue: the platform offers opportunities for employees to give their input and managers have quick insight into what the colleagues support most and why. That is exactly what the Future of Work means: better cooperation, more engagement and better decisions! That’s co-creation.

More information about co-creation and dialogue

If you want to know more about using the CircleLytics online tool, please contact us or contact Spaarne Labs.

 

co-creation

Employee engagement, hence employees’ thriving, can’t wait for a pulse or once-in-a-while generic employee survey by HR.  Management and HR have to answer the same question every day, and work side-by-side: “how can we create a future of work & employee experience today that make people and work prosper and grow successfully?”. And yes, the way you formulate your answer to this question in your company is probably better yet pretty much the same: HR is not a silo and has to create value right in the heart of matters: the intersection of people and corporate performance. We need co-creation based on collective intelligence.

CircleLytics Dialogue is developed to perform at this precise intersection. Right where value creation is residing. Where people and teams have to perform and make sense of things. Since we’re wired to connect, to share, to collaborate, we believe CircleLytics is at its best where co-creation is needed mostly, and decisions have to be constructed by, instead of about, the people. Where it’s needed mostly for employees and managers to make their valuable work happen. Organizational success hinges on the ability of people collaborating efficiently, hence, understanding how information is collectively processed has become critical to solve complex problems. Their cognitive and creative performance, i.e. their collective intelligence and collaboration, is essential to getting these problems solved. You can only win together. In this blog, we focus on a few winning elements to your organization’s success:

  • co-creation
  • collaboration & learning
  • data processing & intelligence
  • employee experience.

 

Help managers take action based on co-creation

At CircleLytics, we believe it’s just not good enough for HR to measure employee engagement & experience and send number-driven reports to management teams. Neither to suggest to managers that adding some word clouds and algorithm-driven topics derived from a few comment boxes are considered actionable results. Surprise: they can’t be, and your managers know this. And … probably told you a few times (hopefully they don’t hold back on this, to us they do tell). We believe HR has to step up their game and extend their technology to perform in the heart of matters: delivering business performance with employees every day; with them, side-by-side with business management and their teams. Engage employees daily to drive experience, retention and corporate performance. It’s simply, in Josh Bersin’s words about “helping managers take action“. The picture below illustrates his maturity model of employee engagement. From again another engagement survey to the enablement of managers to follow up on recommendations and learn from behavioural data. CircleLytics is developed to stop the pain of survey fatigue and create an experience that people embrace and turn them into one big brain to solve any matter at hand. Need recommendations? Ask for them and you will get them. Need solutions for problem ABC? Ask for them and you will get them. Need to know the next ambitious, doable milestone for project XYZ? Ask for it and you will get it. Why are people considering leaving? Ask them and you will get the answer.

 

Other thought leaders are increasingly refocusing HR / HCM (or for the first time) on delivering value. Ben Whitter (read for example “Human Experience at Work”) understands and urges us all to “co-create at a deeper level with people” and make people be partners in driving work from the outset. He mentions that there’s no escaping co-creation and sees co-creation as not only making sense for business performance but also the human approach. “Co-creation is a commitment to make progress with people, not through them”.

Delivering value of co-creation, is more than just a tool

We also like to mention Hein Knaapen, former CHRO for blue chips such as KPN, ING and DSM. In his well-articulated and inspiring writing about delivering business value instead of HR just buying another tool, he shares the following: “Whenever I gave in to fashionable solutions that, in fact, had no meaningful link to corporate performance, my impact was elusive. Whenever I understood the acute relevance of a need to enable value creation, I was always able to muster the support of the CEO and drive solutions that actually improved the company’s performance.”

We believe HR and management will collaborate more and more to engage employees and solve daily company problems in a collaborative way in one go. We’re here to break through silos and make that co-creation happen. Ben Whitter is asking how companies can co-create at a deeper level with people, right? Our answer is to engage employees using the power of deliberate open-ended questions, having them collaborate and reflect on answers, so that bigger solutions, and action-driven results emerge. The merits and science of collective intelligence (CI) deliver results that you didn’t know of before. Mere crowdsourcing is not enough. It’s about adding collaboration to crowdsourcing and capturing the amazing effects of people interacting with other people’s ideas and thoughts. That’s the process you’re looking for. Collective intelligence brings out 20-60% more intelligence and creativity, without adding more people. More value, without more people. Let’s see how collective intelligence, crowdsourcing and CircleLytics Dialogue work, and run you by the criteria that we believe you should keep in mind when selecting your elevated, next-level crowdsourcing solution, or better yet: your collective intelligence solution.

 

What’s crowdsourcing again and why wasn’t it enough?

Crowdsourcing is based on the assumption that problems can be decomposed into parts that can be solved by widely distributed, independent workers. Companies and people can ask tough questions to large internal or external groups and chances are that this brings out the best solution. CircleLytics Dialogue’s first round is like that: you ask many people (can be 10,000s) for their best ideas, problem analysis, or improvements on any challenge you may encounter. Our language processing technology enables you to capture key results in a variety of ways. However, there is increasing evidence of the “importance of collaboration to innovation, and the underperformance of groups that don’t work with a sufficiently high level of interdependence”. (Easier than reading that is to learn from our customer data proof points by the way: they paved your way and delivered amazing value via 2,000+ dialogues). How do you add the power of learning and collaboration to traditional crowdsourcing? Let’s explain how CircleLytics Dialogue combines the best of both words: people with various levels of cognitive abilities, knowledge and skills, and their power of collaboration.

 

Dialogue: the answer to your company’s need for co-creation

Dialogue means that people deliberately look for new information and perspectives to evolve their thinking, hence their own points of view, and emerge (completely) new ideas and thoughts. Without dialogue, you’re condemned to limit yourself to a simple word count, topic modelling, and computer-driven language processing, based on a bag of textual answers to a question. And that’s just unacceptably too little for your precious people and company. The CircleLytics Dialogue solution offers employees (or any type of participants) a unique 2nd round, in which participants give meaning to each other’s anonymized answers and ideas, and enrich these by keeping scores, tagging key words and adding valuable comments to their scores. Customer data, hence human logic as well, proves that participants simply love it; you take them seriously, satisfy their curiosity, and give them a voice. That’s a party for people’s hearts and minds. We’re wired for co-creation.

Don’t underestimate the 1st round: this is already very appealing and trust-building. Deliberate open-ended questions are simply what they’re waiting for. The 2nd round engages participants even more deeply in a totally new fashion. Can you image that our 5+ year customer data proves that more than 70% of participants read through / review more than 15 answers from others? And over 40% of participants even more than 30. In other words, it’s apparently a wonderful employee experience. In addition, three important things happen:

  • participants show a preference for answers that DO NOT resemble their own answers; they are indeed opening up to other participants’ perspectives, which is an amazing learning experience
  • participants are open to this 2nd round’s collective effort: they’re part of something more grand and meaningful than ‘trying to make my answer win’: they’re ok to let go of their original answer, which means that you DO NOT have any fear of 1,000s of participants expecting that you follow up on their own answer; it’s the collective outcome that wins
  • people’s brains learn to adapt and open up to different perspectives, novelty and change.

Dialogue dynamics are critical to gaining collective intelligence and getting to co-creation. By having participants learn, listen and reflect, new thoughts emerge, without any fear of letting go of their own previous thoughts. Second, more thoughtful thoughts are more valuable. This type of intelligence is the highest form of cognitive and creative intelligence you can get from a human group intervention. That’s pretty crucial in an ever-changing world and market. Co-creation will be more and more in the heart of matters, people and teams. We expect that tomorrow’s HR leadership will bring technology such as CircleLytics Dialogue to managers and their teams, and board rooms to engage all employees and move performance forward in one go. Engagement is a joint effort, not anyone’s exclusive domain. Especially not HR’s we believe. It’s just smarter and better to solve company matters together.

Employee Dialogue

 

Now let’s see what’s important in selecting the best solution. Even if it means you’d select other technology than CircleLytics Dialogue, at least let’s share with you what we think is important and why.

Scalability and pricing: don’t get stuck

Choose technology that’s robust and consistent for any group size. Why? You probably have various teams, of various sizes, and from time to time you want to tap into the wisdom of the collective of maybe 10,000s of employees. CircleLytics Dialogue is scalable for any group size and algorithms, dashboard, etc work consistently no matter what. Watch out for vendors that focus on one-off projects. Usually, you spend quite a bit of money on consultancy, it’s not up and running in a day or so, and receive a stiff invoice. Collective intelligence, or elevated crowdsourcing, is here to stay and part of a manager’s daily workflow, engaged employees, and performance culture. You need to scale up, down, left, right, as flexibly as is required. Make sure your vendor’s pricing and product offering are flexible as well. CircleLytics Dialogue offers a 100% transparent pricing scheme and allows you to get what you need or stop when you want. To never get stuck.

Choose collective over swarm intelligence. Humans over bees.

Choose collective intelligence-based technology when working with people. Listen to the great video in the CircleLytics playlist of prof Robert Sapolsky about the difference between swarm and collective intelligence. The latter is often known by the name wisdom of crowd. Basically the participants (agents) in swarm intelligence-based solutions refer to animals such as bees and ants and its main driver is survival, i.e. food. However, swarms make suboptimal decisions and can even cease to exist because of their swarming behaviour. They get stuck when swarming after a not so smart peer, in the absence of patience, i.e. time to reflect and iterate other ideas as well. However, when you apply collective intelligence and meet the requirements like we applied in CircleLytics Dialogue, you secure a superior outcome since the process allows for a massive number of iterations and interactions between agents and other agents’ ideas. More simply put; you get a more intelligent result in the same amount of time.

Intuitiveness: don’t make users think too much before going live

You probably want to scale up your solution throughout the whole company. Solving complex problems, change and engaging employees to the max is all here to stay and all around us. Now, or in time, many managers and teams need to be facilitated to tap into the collective wisdom of their team, department or business unit and have the best-in-class technology to do so. That requires a platform that’s easy to understand and apply, while maintaining the necessary control at a central level. With only some online training, tutorials and from time to time a blog with tips.

Mere-exposure bias: words or topics that are mentioned a lot are NOT simply the best

Avoid the trap of mere-exposure bias (mere-frequency bias): most survey and crowd sourcing tools sponsor unfortunately this ugly bias. Their technology gives priority by-design to contributions and words that are mentioned simply more often …. we all know that’s not smart. To put it mildly. Avoid topic modelling, word counts/clouds that forgot about this bias. Whether it concerns supervised or un-supervised topic modelling. It’s not about appearances of words; it’s about the sentiment and importance that are allocating by others. That’s why the CircleLytics Dialogue distributes all input in a subsequent 2nd round and enables everyone to keep scores (-3 to +3), tag words and add comments. The aggregation of these scores and enrichments feed our AI, topic modelling, NLP, etc. We offer unsupervised and supervised topic modelling by the way. The richness of data is unique and you don’t want to miss out on that before jumping to algorithms. First the human mind, then the algorithms. So, stop hurting your decision making by relying on single round surveys with too-easy-to-be-true topic modelling, NLP and sentiment analysis. Your decision making needs the richness of others attributing importance.

Asynchronous process: don’t give preference to people that speak up faster than others

Make sure your technology avoids responses that came in first, are served first. It’s quite basic, but there are tools in the market that care less about this and bias faster respondents. Ouch… We all know that thinking takes time, creativity takes time. Faster is definitely not better. Remember introverts? A good night’s sleep first? Our brains need to slow down to perform at its best. Nobel Prize winner Kahneman wrote about this in his famous book/video “Thinking, Fast and Slow” on the dynamics of the human brain and our thinking. We only slow people down just enough to get the best of their thinking. To release their power to reflect on themselves and each other. You are compensated generously by getting recommendations and actionable results! Look at this picture for a moment. In blue, you see that most positive scores are given to opinions/ideas that came in last during the 1st round (input-round). The fast response is simply not the best response.

Allow radical honesty: don’t hold them back to vote ideas down, not only up

Enable people to vote things down. Yes. And enable them to explain why. Don’t forget that people do have think about things that don’t work, that can be risky, or even harmful to corporate performance or your company’s reputation. You want to know those things. And you want to know why, and not look the other way. Be aware of the contraire and what might cause people’s resistance to some ideas. This is important to people: show you’re really open to all of their thoughts. This way, you gain insights that help you to implement and get support for your decision making later on.

Eye candy is sweet, game-changing insights are smarter

Candy comes at a price; you may be sweetened by technology that looks very fast and easy for respondents. Swipe a bit, be easy on the questions you ask them. But do you know that the brain needs to be challenged?  Needs nutrition before candy? In science this is known as people’s need for rational overrides to disrupt mindlessness. Simply put: not only your deliberate open-ended questions must challenge people’s thought process, the technology applied as well. It’s a balancing act to maximize experience and maximize their brain processes (opening up, thinking, creating, reflecting). To share just a bit of data, the picture below shows the average uptake in the 2nd round, in which 70% of the respondents review more than 15 opinions from others! In the CircleLytics Dialogue, participants score between -3 and +3, tag words, and even enrich their scores with comments. That’s a lot of work, you’d say. We and participants say; it’s just an amazing engaging experience for them and a proven welcome investment of their time.

 

So, that brings us ….

Choosing your elevated crowdsourcing requires a bit of preparation. To us, our customers, and to science, collective intelligence out-smartens swarm intelligence and legacy crowdsourcing solutions. We’ve shared the proof points we’ve gathered from 300+ companies for a better understanding of what makes people, your business challenges and CircleLytics Dialogue a unique match.

Contact us today to understand your needs, we’ll set you up for a demo!

Request demo

 

Deliberate open-ended questions for high response rates and depth

How was your day? What are we doing next weekend? What do you think of this idea? How can we best solve this problem? Open ended questions. People are tired of closed questions that surveys present us with: the well-known survey fatigue (interesting report dating back to 2013 by the CIPD). This is understandable. After all, we want to be able to give our opinion, to contribute to the issue at hand. And we don’t want to be forced to choose from a limited number of answers. Open-ended questions also let people know that you take them seriously, that you trust them. Gallup has been researching this for many years: employees love, Einstein quote futureno require, need to be take seriously for their opinions. You also get a higher response rate and a much better response; they take answering your question seriously. As a result, your research becomes more reliable. Don’t forget to ask more questions about the future and present, than about the past; the past doesn’t resonate strongly enough with people.

Closed question with open answer

Even if you ask a closed question (score, multiple choice, statement), it is almost always better to offer the open text field as well. You must then explicitly ask for an explanation of the score or of the answer to the multiple-choice question. By asking for an explanation, the score is given in a more considered way, which makes your results more reliable. Moreover, you learn about the reasons that lie behind scores and you can finally, reliably interpret your numerical results. This also enables you to analyse whether low scores have been given by mistake, while the open answer indicates the opposite; or vice versa. Your research results will improve, which in turn will lead to better follow-up and targeted, fast action! Managers need to be helped by your insights, not overwhelmed by data and additional home work. Just adding an open-text field to a closed-end question is not an option. If you don’t give the open answer meaning by a clear, guiding open-ended question, why do you expect respondents to give it meaning?

So, instead of asking: “How do you assess ABC?” and allowing a score or throwing in a text field,
ask this: “How do you assess ABC at this moment, and can you clearly substantiate that?”

Don’t limit them, or yourself

The current technology of survey providers is very limited in processing open answers. Therefore, they often discourage this, and you are left with the big question ‘what is behind the scores’. Or they limit themselves to counting words, topic modelling and trying to discover combinations of words. Consequently, the ease of processing the data for such providers is more important than the quality and depth of your research. Even worse, more important than the needs of your participants; there is hardly or no specific room for open answers. Open answers are driven by the open-ended question, not by a functional text box to put in ‘anything you want’. They can’t say what they do want to say. The section below is from the website of one of the market leaders for employee surveys, showing that after the survey, you have to find out for yourself what’s behind it.

the why behind numbers

 

Instant useful information

CircleLytics technology, on the other hand, has been developed to process open answers and convert them into information. Information that you can use immediately. Useful top 5s for instance. You can see right away what was said by which target group and why. This means you will get the most out of the open answers, making sure participants are heard.

Prof Neely (University of Cambridge): “People often reveal their true thoughts and feelings in the open-ended comment boxes. In general, the content of these comments offers a much more reliable predictor of a people’s behaviour.”

How do you deal with open answers?

What is the difference between open answers processing by a survey tool and by CircleLytics? We will explain this using a simple example. After a reorganisation of HR, in which they started working de-centrally as business partners, management and HR wanted to investigate the results. The question was simple: “How do you assess the effects for you of decentralising HR and can you explain this?” Approximately 3,000 employees gave a 1-10 score including their explanations. The average score was high. The answers were then grouped based on traditional word count and topic modelling. These are simple ways of processing texts which made it possible to group 14 themes and to count which words were mentioned most often. The latter resulted in a nice word cloud. That’s it?

For surveys, yes. For CircleLytics and participants, this is where it all starts. Our tool allows for a unique second round per question. In this second round, the unsorted answers are sent back to the participants in sets of varying compositions to maximize diversity of perspectives. Employees (or other participants such as customers, members, etc) can rate these and give them a score of -3 to +3, choose key words and explain their score. Do you know how much they enjoy doing that, how happy that makes them, to learn from each other’s answers and enrich these?

Sentiment & Semantic Analysis

They give a sentiment, a weighting, to the answers of others. You immediately have your real-time sentiment & semantic analysis and natural processing of language. No algorithm can beat the human mind in processing something so complex as natural language. To humans, language comes natural, yet to algorithms it’s one of the most complex things to capture in a meaningful, actionable and reliable way.

By selecting key words, the human minds (the participants) give those words even an extra weighting and extra semantic, contextual value to the data. That is an enormous enrichment; even before our AI/ML/NLP technology starts to perform analyses, hundreds or even thousands of participants are already doing the natural language processing. In practice, this proves extremely attractive: more than 70% of the participants rate more than 15 answers from others. Participants love this way of answering questions, learning from others and structuring the output, and give this two-round method a report mark of 4.1 on a 5-point scale. Very different from the fatigue that plagues surveys….

Now let’s see

Back to our example: 3,000 participants assessing an average of 30 answers, is almost 100,000 thought processes in just a few days! That 2nd round is called collective intelligence. This gave the client a whole new insight. Instead of 14 themes, it turned out that after the 2nd round, only 3 themes were favoured and supported. On second thought, the participants focused on those 3 themes, not on 14 at all. Moreover, a fourth, new theme emerged, which only a few people thought of in round 1, but was positively scored by a large group of participants in round 2!

The theme was about someone’s observation that HR business partners themselves were having a hard time…. A few had empathy for this in the 1st round. A regular one-round survey, a word count and topic modelling simply did not reveal the theme. Only through the 2nd round of CircleLytics could participants see the opinions of others, learn from them and gain a deeper understanding. On closer inspection, they thought differently. An unprecedented enrichment of the research. And a wonderful example of deep democracy in which a minority opinion is clearly revealed.

Think again

That is why the CircleLytics technology is not called a survey; it’s called a dialogue, based on deliberate open-ended question and human (and after that AI/NLP) processing of the open answers. Because dialogue requires that people are prepared to think differently about your question. They learn from the answers of others. People think better in the second instance. They usually think fast first, and then slow down (also read Kahneman’s research), which gives your research more depth. You also come up with subjects that no technology had come up with. Topics that are sometimes only mentioned by a few, and that cannot emerge without the collective intelligence of all brains together.

So when would it be useful to have a survey?

Forget the word survey for a moment. Based on our experience, we advise to determine the design per question in CircleLytics. This means adding a closed scale, presenting a multiple choice, or offering a text field. You can adjust the question when you add a text field. You can now explicitly ask participants to fill in the text field and what you expect them to do. Finally, you can determine whether the question will be included in the 2nd round and set the deadline for this. This is how you can combine the old survey with the new possibilities of the open text field and the 2nd round. If a question leaves no room for thinking for yourself but is just a score or ticking of a predetermined answer, you leave out the 2nd round, and possibly even the text field. This can all be done in a single tool. Tips for formulating strong questions, can be found in our WhitePaper with design principles.

Analyses and results

In conclusion: the response rate and quality are higher and, more importantly in our opinion, you will achieve accurate results and a reliable interpretation of the figures. You can also further analyse the results in CircleLytics by using the unique Weighted Word Count that takes sentiment (score/selection of words) into account. This leads to completely different insights than the old word count.

Everything has an expiry date. The regular surveys you are used to, something that causes fatigue among participants and shows fragile quality, need renewal.

We would like to invite you to get to know the power of people, based on (mostly) open questions, with the CircleLytics Dialogue Solution.

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