Which pot of gold is at the end of your rainbow, at the end of your Dialogue with your people? Using focused, open questions you give them a sense of direction. Direction will help you reach your destination, your gold. What is this destination? What do you want to achieve with your Dialogue? What is our advice to create  solid questions? Where do you start? Stephen Covey already said it in his best-selling book “The 7 habits of highly effective people”: start with the end in sight. Whether it’s your day, a new project at work, or your new Dialogue!

So what do you want to achieve and why? We have listed how you can best design your Dialogue with the end in sight first. That gives a lot of peace of mind. And as soon as you click on the activate button of your Dialogue, your questions, you can lean back. Or do something else.

What do you need to consider before you start?

– Deadlines and stakeholders

– Understand your target group

– Analyse results

– Monitor your Dialogue

– Visualise & monitor success

– Design your Dialogue: create your questions

Ok, now let’s get to work on these points!



Firstly, your deadlines. Your Dialogue does not go on forever, nor is it a closed-ended survey. You go way beyond that with open-ended questions and multiple rounds. You can read about the difference between Dialogue and Survey here. There is a start (Round 1) and then Round 2. Two rounds, because some questions have a 2nd Round. In that 2nd Round there are several small, attractive steps to realize and structure the dialogue. It is nice to have a deadline for each round, because you want to work with the results. Others are probably waiting for the results. Moreover, your participants need focus; you need to make a questionnaire that is short, powerful, attractive and with strong content, preferably 3 – 5 questions. Not another online discussion group, and do them a favour: no survey with generic questions. So when do you end the lead time of those rounds? When do you need or want to work with the results? Who is curious to know about the insights of your Dialogue? Take 2-3 days into account for each round. In other words, count on 6 days from the end of your Dialogue. Now you know your start date. We recommend not to start on a Monday (a busy day for everyone), and not on a Friday (people often have their minds on the weekend!). And we don’t recommend starting the second round on a Monday, because you’ll probably set the reminder for Monday morning or Sunday, which are not ideal times. So, now you have the start of your planning.


Understand your target group

Next, your target group. If your target audience consists of employees or highly engaged customers, 2-3 working days per round will do. However, if your target group is very busy, we recommend booking a weekend in the lead time of round 1. If your participants are further away from you, like members of your association or citizens in your city, it might be wise to have a lead time x3 per round, so 6-9 working days per round. As a result, you spend a bit more time on recruiting people and sending out extra reminders. Of course, these reminders only go to people who have not yet actively participated. If your target group is very far away from you (little loyalty, irregular contact, or limited online), you need a serious campaign to stimulate their involvement. You then need social media and other recruitment tactics, which we are happy to tell you about in person. Or you can ask for advice from your communications expert in your own organisation.


Analyse results

Thirdly, bear in mind that you will need some time to go through the results afterwards and present them in a PowerPoint presentation for example. You will need about a minimum of 15-60 minutes per question. As a rule of thumb, ask 3, maximum 5 questions per Dialogue. If you used characteristics (such as age category, department, length of service, etc.) to filter the results, allow for an additional 30 minutes of analysis time per question. You can spend many hours on the data, and with the analysis tools we’ve created, that’s very tempting. We’re creating more and more tools that will very much limit your analysis time, but still satisfy your curiosity.

Our tip: mark your time well. Think about who you will need to go through the results and to prepare a presentation, so plan ahead! This lead time is in addition to the duration of the two rounds together. For example, count on 2 x 1.5 – 2 hours of analysis time for 4 questions. And an hour to put the charts in a document/PowerPoint presentation, and more time if you want to make them yourself. Don’t forget; through your dashboard you can download a standardised excel report, adapt it to your needs, and then save it as a PDF. That will speed you up enormously, and also your decision-making.

Following up your Dialogue

Fourthly, you may be the one designing and implementing the Dialogue, but not the owner of the actions that follow. Depending on the subjects you base your questions on, you must make sure that you have the most important stakeholders on board to work with the results. So make sure you plan and organise this well! It is good news for them that you are using CircleLytics Dialogues, as they provide clear quantitative and qualitative insights, with clear actions on how to proceed. Suppose your question was “What is your best idea for …. and why?” and in round 2 “Appreciate the ideas of others and explain how we can implement them in the smartest way.” Everything is combined real time so you immediately know what you can do smarter to bring the best ideas to fruition. Follow-up is important. Follow-up makes the tool easy and concrete together with your participants, but you must organise that beforehand.


Visualise & monitor success

Fifthly, the success of your actions. If you follow up on the results of your Dialogue, and roll out actions, you want to monitor, communicate and visualize your success to those involved. You can then even thank them again! Many clients use the Dialogue to make this monitoring very concrete. They use questions such as: “Because of your ideas, we started working with ….. . How well do you think this is working out at the moment? Please give a score of 1-10 and tell us what you think is going well. And immediately add the question: “What would be an additional, valuable step towards making ….. even more successful, and why? You will then create a new questionnaire. Perhaps you will repeat some of the questions over time. Challenge yourself to go through the whole process again: start at the end: what are you looking for?


Now the Dialogue itself: designing questions

And sixth: the creation of your questions. A strong Dialogue requires solid questions. They must be relevant, specific, inspiring and challenging. We have summarised all the important principles for making a very solid questionnaire in a White Paper. This is based on 1,000s of questions, Dialogues at more than 300 organisations. You can download it here. Consider carefully whether some questions do require a closed scale because you also want to show figures. In that case, combine closed scales with open answers and with the 2nd round. This way you will get the best result. The second round ensures that all open answers are valued and enriched by the participants themselves. This increases the relevance and the speed with which your results are ready in real time afterwards. Take 2 or 3 sessions to come to rock-solid questions. Use our library of 600+ validated or research-based questions, or design them yourself. If more people need to approve the questions, build in some time for that (2-3 days for example). Prevent these other people from viewing your Dialogue as a ‘kind of survey’, suddenly wanting to force a lot of questions into it, weakly formulated questions, and a lot of multiple choice or other closed questions. A Dialogue is not a survey. You want to ask for opinions, and people want to give them!



Make a planning according to these tips and rules of thumb. You now know the most important activities. Your context may be different, so keep an eye on our blogs and don’t hesitate to ask us for feedback or advice. You can also check our partner page to see which consultants know a lot about your topic and can help you find your pot of gold! Time to create your own questions. And more importantly; really involve your participants in topics that matter and listen to their opinions! That is the renewed Employee Listening.


Contact us today to get started tomorrow.

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Diversity: different perspectives

In a group of friends, I like to hear how everyone is doing. And if we are in a dialogue about a subject, I like to hear what others think about it. Then I learn more. After an hour or so, some very interesting things often come out of it! And sometimes it goes all directions. Or it ends in a fierce discussion, in which we defend our own point of view and forget to listen, let alone learn. I learn the least when someone else thinks the same way I do. It’s nice to see it as confirmation, but quite boring because there is bound to be something new to discover. I find diversity of perspectives more interesting; how do others think differently and why?


Night’s sleep is necessary to learn

I learn the most from different perspectives (video Lorenzo Barbaris, PhD at Stanford). Especially if I can sleep on it. Then what other people say or what I read is more likely to sink in and the next day I can get a fresh perspective or see things more clearly. The brain is good at that, such a night’s sleep. At night, the brain clears out a lot and makes room to learn and come up with new ideas the next day. A bit of rest, contemplation, reflection. Listening and learning simply takes time. The brain even requires it.


How to use the dialogue

In the CircleLytics dialogue, we copy that smart and necessary process of people, of learning and of our brain. First of all, the questions you ask a group in the first round provide focus, to prevent them from wandering off. By doing so, you make the subject crystal clear. Download our WhitePaper to become a serious expert in formulating solid, open questions. Secondly, in the second round, people can see and learn from other people’s perspectives. And thirdly, they can take their time. What I previously said about myself, we apply extensively in the dialogue: time for reflection. It is indeed true that a night’s sleep helps. Putting people into a workshop for an hour or two simply does not bring out the best in them or the group. Even worse; if you increase people’s stress, it lowers their empathy. This makes them less open to other perspectives. So less open to diversity. That’s not a good thing, but it’s good news for your CircleLytics dialogue. In other words; a few necessary days of rest and reflection, in both rounds.


What happens in the second round?

It’s quite simple. For each active participant in the 2nd round, our unique algorithms create a set of 10-15. Quite different from a survey that does not allow this. So, a set of 10 to 15 anonymised contributions from others from the 1st round. Until the beginning of this year, it was 20, and now it’s a bit less. Each participant gets a different set, so every active participant. Because if we prepare sets for non-active participants and someone does not participate in the 2nd round, the set is lost and that is not the intention. How we make the sets is something we keep to ourselves mostly. What we do share with you is that it is extremely complex. Since the new version in February, we pre-cluster after the end of the 1st round. We use different algorithms and artificial intelligence to make sure each set is as diverse, as colourful as possible. This depends on your specific dialogue. It can take serious minutes before the invitations for the 2nd round are sent out and you, as the creator of the dialogue, receive a notification of this via your e-mail. Because of this increased diversity, people learn more from each other and are more surprised.


Colourful  & mitigating bias

Look at the picture. The left set is the old algorithm, where randomisation and other techniques already led to considerable diversity but without clustering. On the right, we show what it looks like after clustering in the new version of the CircleLytics dialogue. Kleurrijk Diversiteit Dialoog Nieuwe versieClustering – playfully expressed with colours for you here – ensures that contributions from round 1 are grouped together based on similarity. Participants only see a few contributions from the same cluster (see picture: a few times the same colour). We have developed a technique of cleverly ‘jumping’ between clusters, showing the participant a varied set of contributions. This way we mitigate the very unwelcome mere-exposure bias (mere-frequency bias). This bias means that respondents (or algorithms such as topic modelling in normal survey tools) favour things they see more.

Extra benefit:Deep Democracy

In addition, the new algorithms ensure that contributions that do not appear often in round 1 are shown slightly more often. In this way, we prevent those scarce, unique contributions (minority opinions) from being relatively under-represented among participants in the second round. Deep democracy, in which minority opinions receive extra attention, is therefore much better safeguarded in the dialogue than ever before. More colour, more diversity!

Did the scoring by participants also change?

Yes. We will show 10-15 contributions instead of 20 from now on. After that you will be thanked and you may stop. Or continue. Score Dialoog 2e ronde DiversiteitThen, for every 5 contributions, we will show that new message as you can see in the picture on the right: we will thank you and tell you again that you may stop or continue. The participant is free to do so. Sometimes participants read over it. But not anymore; the message is now like a sort of button. Did you know that more than 70% of the participants rated more than 30 contributions? More than 50% of the participants even rate more than 40-50. This means a huge involvement of participants and apparently a nice, attractive experience for them. Your solid questions, relevance of subject matter and preparation of the dialogue obviously help tremendously, don’t forget that.


What else is new?

We also made the buttons to go to the next or previous question more visible: orange, and as a clear button. We first used a simple black arrow. Sometimes participants did not understand that. Participants are very happy with the new layout: we can see that in the ratings for the dialogue. We have achieved a score of 8 out of 10

What is the result of it all?

Diversity has been increased. This means that we are doing more to stimulate and appeal to people’s brainpower, which benefits your results:

  • participants rate and score more contributions because they see more new contributions
  • they are even more satisfied and involved in your dialogue and subject matter
  • they spend more time in your dialogue, which is good for their awareness
  • deep democracy: the minority opinion now receives equal attention.

Unlike a survey or a workshop of an hour or two, reflection time and the 2nd round ensure that you get more insight and better results on your questions. By increasing diversity, CircleLytics shows again that we listen to your feedback and continue to analyse the data on the behaviour of participants in the dialogue. This is one of the reasons why we keep making the dialogue smarter and launch a new version every 6-8 weeks. This is how we keep the CircleLytics dialogue the best online dialogue in the world. For you, your challenges and especially for your people.

Contact us today to get started tomorrow.

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