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.

 

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!

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