• Home
  • Learning Culture
Dialoog voor Zorg

Surprising insights at Spaarne Gasthuis

Participation and influence are important pillars within the hospital Spaarne Gasthuis. They want to get all perspectives on the table, and especially diverse ones, so that well-considered decisions are made based on knowledge and supported points of view. About two years ago, Spaarne Labs came into contact with CircleLytics’ online dialogue. Saskia Haasnoot, Senior Business Partner Development HR&A at Spaarne Gasthuis, says: “Through my colleagues in the innovation team (Spaarne Labs), I and colleague Priscilla Verwoert started to delve into the dialogue. After 30 dialogues I can say that the dialogue is a revelation, I am very excited about it. We have never used a method before, in which so many colleagues can simultaneously question and talk to each other online, at a time that suits them, from a place that suits them. Secure, simple and anonymous. The Spaarne Gasthuis has about 4,500 employees spread over three locations and has a great diversity in professional professionals. Finding a way to reach many people in our 24/7 work environment is challenging to say the least. Our team has since experienced that this dialogue successfully provides balanced answers in a short time, is received positively and can lead to surprising insights. The reason why we often use the dialogue.”
Request demo

Using brainpower: colleagues solve problems. Read here what Spaarne Gasthuis previously shared about the approach and impact of dialogue.

Dialogue helps with decision-making

The dialogue can be used for many challenges. Each challenge is suitable for a dialogue where everyone can share their expertise and experience, provided that the questions are well formulated. The latter requires thinking time and sparring time, which immediately pays for itself in the results of a dialogue. A well-posed question yields actionable answers that aid decision-making. Thinking about the question in advance forces you to understand the essence and to define an issue. Moreover, asking open questions forces you to use language to involve and touch people.

Haasnoot: “Transparency in communication is very important to me. There are many hierarchies and dependencies in relationships in our organization, which make expressing your opinion quite difficult at times. A good example in which the dialogue once again proved its added value is the following: in a department, we had an alarm that repeatedly went off wrongly. The smartest solution was sought through the dialogue, in other words in co-creation with the people involved. The outcome with a large (majority) support was different from what we suspected and was initially mentioned by most in the first round (“invest in a new system”). We ended up betting on good instructions to set an alarm instead of asking a colleague to release himself to every times to check the alarms (which was mentioned a lot in the first round of the dialogue). This dialogue saved us a lot of time and money, as we were able to immediately switch to the best solution and avoid the one that was mentioned a lot but didn’t get support on second thought. It proves that what people initially say is not what you should blindly consider to follow up on. You invite them to the dialogue, the second round: please (re)view what others think about it. What do you learn from that? How do you feel about it now? And what will come out of that? What do you think on second thought?

Salta Group: The good of qualitative research, but on whatever scale you want: from 10 to 1,000s. Read more here.

People-centric, time for reflection

The dialogue is completely anonymous and works asynchronously, offering the chance to really say what you think, at your own time. People can show their vulnerability through this online dialogue, which makes it a very human tool for me. Technology can therefore be people-centric and that is important in our culture. As a result, people start talking to each other – anonymously – and this leads to better and supported solutions: we stimulate everyone’s active open mind, sharing information and critical thinking. The limited number of characters to explain your answer stimulates people to get to the point and makes them take a little more time to think. And it is precisely in the second, subsequent, round that people jointly indicate what they consider most important on second thought. This produces the supported solutions that administrators can use for their decision-making. It emphasizes new leadership in our organization: asking open questions creates a culture of genuine listening, of openness, involvement and better decisions. Particularly at a time when the labor market is under pressure and the concern for an important transition, leveraging collective wisdom is essential.

If there are ideas that are widely supported, but cannot (yet) be implemented or not in the short term, you must also communicate this. It remains crucial that you do not use the dialogue as a sham to get a say and then do nothing with it. People’s trust in the dialogue, because we act on the results, contributes to the power of listening and the power of CircleLytics dialogue.”

Dialogue encourages trust and generates creative ideas

Haasnoot continues: “In the past, surveys were also used. We observed survey fatigue. And we have noticed that surveys can have a polarizing effect, you are either for or against something, there is no in-between  or space to explain your choice nor rethink or change your own opinion. The response was low and an analysis of the answers quickly took a long time to complete. We had to interpret what is said and meant, usually based on what is often mentioned or driven by our own preferences. That’s risky, and that’s why we have chosen dialogue as the next level, going far beyond regular single round surveys.

The dialogue is anonymous and promotes creative, different ideas. The response rate of the dialogue is high and we notice that the percentage only increases as people participate in a dialogue more often. The second round of the dialogue encourages reflection on yourself and others’ different views, and stimulates a learning organization. Being able to continue learning is an important reason why people enjoy staying with the organization longer, as well as getting a say in what needs to be done in the organization. It is a conversation that takes place online with many people at the same time. This yields a wealth of insights that we can use.”


Rapid wins and sustainable impact

Haasnoot says: “In departments where we have now used the dialogue more often, we see that the number of participants and the number of answers that participants give in the first round are increasing considerably. Some people need to gain confidence that the online dialogue is indeed anonymous before giving their opinion or reviewing other people’s ideas. We ask a few key questions. We deliberately keep the dialogue short so that it does not take much time. Often only 3 to 5 questions. If a manager or initiator comes up with a question, we dive into the questions together, until it is concrete, or we use the library of 1,000 questions and open questions in the CircleLytics environment. Our experience shows that clear formulation of questions helps with a good demarcation (and vice versa), and leads to more answers from participants and to answers that you can use. The appreciation of employees is always a solid 4 on a scale of 5. That is important, because you cannot bother employees with things that take away the pleasure. Control, anonymity, learning from each other and convenience go hand in hand.

Read our white paper with 18 design principles for your open questions

We also communicate what we are going to do with the results. We can implement some quick wins quickly. For example, there was an ICT thing that could be easily remedied and which emerged when asking what makes an unpleasant working day unpleasant. This had not been reported en masse at ICT, and yet the dialogue showed that many people experienced this as annoying. Our ICT department quickly resolved that. A quick win that we would never have discovered without the dialogue. In any case, the duration of the dialogue can be short, as long as it is clear what the problem is and good questions are asked. The answers of a dialogue are easy to analyze: the fundaments are done by AI and by the participants. So an impact is quickly possible by using the dialogue to get the collective strength of employees on the table.”

Are you interested in dialogue and collective intelligence as a working method? Then schedule an introduction or demo

Learning organizations need to rethink their approach. Developing employees requires more than a good personalized, online learning offer. Collective learning – in interaction – naturally suits us humans best. Organizations should make more conscious use of this.
Request demo

Organizations want to understand how to create a learning culture and provide employees with a wide range of learning & development opportunities to develop individually. Employees confirm that they want to learn, hence, personal development is a much-ticked requirement for working and staying at an organization. In practice, however, the motivation to learn and walk that talk proves to be a tough subject.

At school we already like to consult with each other, chat, share information, discuss things, challenge, play, copy, talk, disagree and agree. Learn together, instead of alone.

It is not without a reason that many HR leaders are making an effort to further develop the learning & development (L&D) offering in the organization. Data will be used even more in this and the coming years, for in-the-moment, asynchronous learning, with content for exactly your profile. Personalized. For individuals. But aren’t we first of all social creatures?


Personalized L&D does not just yield returns. Studies show that scrap learning, or the loss of what you have learned, is between 45-85%. The human brain is not very good at remembering data without regular repeating what’s been learned. Learning in practice often is said to count for 70%. And in practice means also with others, in interaction with coworkers and even customers.


Our brains forget quite a bit overnight, and that’s a good thing, because that way the brain stays tidy: we let go of weak information and weak connections. Maybe you remember the forgetting curve from Ebbinghaus? To forget is human. Interaction with others and putting to practive what we’ve learned, strengthens our wiring and indeed makes perfect, or at least better!


No time, too little relevance

Incidentally, employees regularly do not even use up the training budget. Research shows that this can be as much as 40%. No time or too little relevance are often the reasons. Strange, because they demand L&D capabilities from their employer, and you provide this, to keep them happy, productive and improve retention.

One of our customers is currently conducting qualitative research & dialogue with 8,000 employees to understand why this also happens there, what hinders them, what would help them, what the organization could do differently, how they can learn from each other, etc. Open questions provide valuable and organisation-specific insights to understand deeply how L&D can do better.

The solution is not only to further personalize learning, and break up the learning content (short learning moments, limited amount) in small pieces, and bring it online, although I support this very much. However, I add to this the power of collective learning and intentionally plus interactively put things into practice and get that above mentioned 70% going. Do you know that employees themselves indicate they prefer to learn in interaction with each other?


Individual learning is not a holy grail

At school we already like to consult with each other, chat, share information, discuss things, disagree and agree. But very often, that’s called ‘cheating’ and ‘being easily distracted’. However, the emergence of project-based and team working, and collaborative learning shows that individual learning is not a holy grail.

When crossing the road in traffic with groups of usually complete strangers, recommendations for new movies on Disney+, solving challenges at work with crowds of colleagues: two know more than one. Collectively you learn more and faster. So why and how can we put collective learning more at work?

The book Superminds by Thomas Malone, but also a completely different book, Natural Intelligence by Leen Gorissen, show wonderful examples of how human learning systems and networks function and evolve. Collective learning enhances and connects each individual with others and new perspectives.


In connection with others

An example. If you want to learn Spanish, an app like Duolingo allows you to learn online, at a time of your choosing, personalized little bits at a time. Yet we all know that you only really learn to speak the language if you connect with others. By interacting with others, sharing stories, and really applying the language within a meaningful, real-life context.

Collectively, together with others, and in context. And not just apply it unilaterally, because through interaction the group will influence, correct, supplement, nuance and offer new valuable learning. But the other way around as well: others learn from you and be refreshed or learn new grammar that they never got around to themselves. This is collective learning, better yet, collaborative learning.

Scientifically said: the agents in a network mutually influence each other and jointly store the ‘learning’. This is how language comes about, growth and development and people can relate to each other and be a group. We’re wired to connect and are first of all social animals. Shouldn’t social and collective be key words when designing L&D solutions and programs?


Understanding agility

Another example – from an organization we work with. This organization is concerned with agility. They started a project team to develop agility and to train key roles in the organization, both individually and as a small collective (team training).

But the organization realizes that learning is not just about individual and team training and that thinking and rolling things out top-down is risky. If the 4,500 employees in question do not collectively, as a group, as a network, understand, live through and embrace the importance and the how/what of agility, then agility will have little chance. People are at the heart of any change success, or the failure of it.

By interacting in this way, via asynchronous dialogue at this scale during days, employees experienced involvement, openness and indicated that they understood a great deal about necessity, approach and consequences.

The organization asked us to strengthen their collective and collaborative learning. Together we designed challenging, open questions, based on our unique 1,000+ open-ended question library, and framed the questions with a clear context in the invitational mail, including an inspiring video from management. Employees participated at their own time and pace during a couple of days for the first round, and a couple of days during the second round. In this second round they read, learned from and scored others’ opinions and answers up and down to validate and emerge leading insights. Collectively, they accomplished 300,000+ learning moments.


Wired to collectively learn

Collective learning and interacting with each other is, in my opinion, an immense, and too little tapped, source of learning matching how our social brain works. We need context, and we can only understand and further shape that context in interaction with others.

Without context, what has been learned will not land and without learning, many employees even consider the L&D offer as irrelevant from the start, according to research. If you know that the organization is not working convincingly on for example agility, and the work floor and you yourself are not involved in it, interact accordingly, no one wants to follow an ‘agility’ training.

No matter how easily it is offered, online and in the smallest chunks: people like to skip it if it lacks relevance and applying things together and interactively. And if they do sign up for such training, they forget most of it, or worse: they do it mainly to improve their curriculum on Linkedin and to strenghten their position on the labor market, but not to strengthen the organization.


You get the best out of yourself, with the help from others, and the same goes for all of us.

Nice to learn Spanish or something about agility, or anything else, but only if the relevant context is there, to collectively apply it, and mutual learning takes place, then something really happens. Then you make an impact and that motivates and activates our dopamine system. We are made to wired together, to connect with each other and together. To learn, and change and evolve our minds, in interaction.

In my opinion, L&D programs and – strategies should include and be based as well on collective, social and collaborative fundaments, as well as personalized aspects. You can start by engaging employees to find out what they prefer, request, and aspire, short and long term, and most important: why. Allow employees to learn from each other via co-creation and dialogue. Tie these qualitative insights into your L&D strategy. That’s the first step yourself to learn from the power of collective intelligence and collaborative learning.

What’s your approach and thinking about L&D going forward?

Contact us for more insights, cases or exchange thoughts.





The best ideas come from employees themselves. I put it this way: it is best to take employees seriously, because that ensures the most acceptance of change, the rapid identification and resolution of problems and the timely identification of opportunities. Research (by Gallup, for example) has shown for years that engagement is directly impacted by the extent to which you seriously listen to employees. Change is then better understood and embraced more quickly. Conversely, research shows that change failure is primarily due to disengagement and a lack of employee voice. So, you have to engage employees. Every day.
Request demo

But how? We do agree about sending single round surveys (the ones we all encounter so often unfortunately): it gauges the temperature, but that’s all they do. And let’s just say it out loud: no manager bases decisions on ‘often mentioned topics’ and word clouds, right?

Gartner Co-Creation

Do you leave it to individual managers then to structurally engage their people? That is possible, but research shows that in 80% of cases, departing talent points to that manager as the reason for leaving. And only 1 out of 5 managers effectively follow up on HR’s survey reports. There is also something pinching there …. And as a CHRO, how do you make sure you genuinely activate all managers, and all employees? Measurably? That you spark a culture in which change, solving problems, accomplishing goals, and seizing opportunities are normal things? A culture of co-creation as recent research from Gartner also confirms.


In my view, this requires three things.

One network, one brain

First of all, in our companies, we are not individualists, but a living, learning network of connected individuals. We share, talk, gossip, ask, tell, app, email, lunch, consult, feel, think, organise, reflect and we desperately need that. It happens in that interaction between people. Think of people as one big brain. The collective intelligence you can acquire from approaching people as one big, connected brain and have them co-create just about anything, yields up to 60% more intelligence and creativity than the combined individual performance of individuals’ brains. People are like the neurons in your brain: only the connectedness through synapses make it a brain. Strong networks of connected employees perform up to 2x better. So, pay attention, because 52% of employees do not experience that connection. How do you intentionally increase people’s connectedness?


New leadership

Second, it requires new leadership. Do not make top-down decisions and roll them out, but address and engage the workforce in a structured manner. You gain trust and commitment by engaging them in continual dialogue, via challenging, deliberate open-ended questions and listening to employees how they collectively solve these. This way, you put the diversity of their thinking to work, of all of them in a way to respects diversity and full inclusion. Asking questions challenges them to think about the status quo, about tomorrow and next year, what to keep and what to let go of. About what is needed most and why, what obstacles can be identified and taken down, what can be done smarter, or be simplified, what must change to accomplish ABC, etc. Asking open-ended questions that matter now is the cornerstone of leadership and the heart of engagement. The brain is therefore better able to handle change and people commit themselves to the problem solving you engage them in. Simple right? Engaging people leads to engagement, not the periodical measurement of it. To engage is a verb, more than it is a noun.


One brain requires new technology

Third, it requires a different view on technology. It’s wonderful to have an online meeting with several people. However, it is necessary to involve all employees if you want to accomplish less biased and more reliable results. We need scalable dialogues and co-creation in order to unlock collective intelligence, to increase connectedness and impact people’s willingness to change. Technology can and does, with human power and a piece of AI. With a depth and impact that were previously unimaginable. Qualitative ideas, recommendations, analysis and suggestions can now be processed, given meaning, be validated and enriched in real time by humans and AI. Research and data from our customers show that in this day and age the speed of processing information determines your chance of survival and organizational development.


New listening, connecting and changing

More than 70% of organizations continue to invest heavily in employee engagement, according to Ventana Research. Our advice is to choose technology in which people as a network are central and value is added to the business. Consider even divesting old employee listening technology, such as surveys (pulse or other) that have not proven themselves in the eyes of employees and managers to deliver corporate performance and retention. Change, connectedness and retention demand you to do everything possible and develop a new view on people, leadership and technology. CEOs estimate only 1 out of 3 CHROs to be up to the task and deliver on the company’s priorities, according to Accenture.


The highest priority to rethink how engagement meets corporate performance. What do you do?


Want to talk more about it? Plan your meeting here.


Maurik Dippel, MSc, is CEO and co-founder of CircleLytics Dialogue




collective intelligence

Co-authored by  Maurik Dippel (co-founder CircleLytics Dialogue) and Dr Dieter Veldsman (The Academy to Innovate HR)


In this article, we reflect on the value of employee surveys and the necessity and impact of adding collective wisdom, ie collective intelligence to surveying and engaging employees. Unfortunately, surveys are often used in isolation, and, without context, are challenging to follow up, and can negatively impact employee trust and collaboration. We propose using a mixed-method approach that includes dialogic techniques to drive continual bottom-up influence, gather wisdom from the broader group, and reflect on others to inform and guide action. Dialogue enables employees to learn from others’ perspectives and answers, provides context that helps to prioritize, and gives meaning to others’ textual responses. The ability to interpret within context and harness the wisdom from various interactions and relationships cannot be replicated by algorithms used in isolation. As such, we argue for a data-informed approach that still recognizes the human elements of employee voice strategies. Within this context, we reflect on the nature of the changing employee/employer relationship and how we believe this should be reflected in elevated employee voice and listening practices to be future-of-work-proof.

Request demo

At the outset of this article, we need to state that we believe employee surveying is a critical component of any employee listening strategy; however, we argue that they need to be used as part of a broader employee listening, leadership, and culture perspective.


The origin of the employee survey


The utilization of employee surveys can be traced back to the early 1920s when surveys were first used to better understand employee attitudes.  A notable figure during this time was J. David Houser, who is credited as one of the first practitioners using advanced quantitative analysis to better understand employee attitudes.  During 1924 and 1925, Houser interviewed numerous leaders and realized that there was very limited understanding of employee views and opinions, impacting factors such as employee morale and job satisfaction and that more methods were required to gather these insights.


Despite all the progress made during the 1920s and 1930s, only a few innovative firms utilized surveys as part of their employee engagement strategies.  In the US, the rise of polling organizations post World War 1 started with companies such as Gallup, Roper, and Crossley focusing on the commercial market research sector in the 1930s. During the Second World War, the Office of War Information (OWI) in the United States employed firms such as Gallup and academic psychological researchers such as Rensis Likert to better understand civilian morale. During this time, the debate regarding the value of open/closed survey questioning and interviewing started to take shape.  The government demanded swift processing and delivery of results and methods that could be utilized at scale.  This need slowly tilted the preferred method of inquiry towards surveys as opposed to more detailed open-ended qualitative analysis.  Challenges associated with open-ended data and the amount of time available versus the time required back then for interpretation contributed to organizations’ preference for survey-based quantitative methods.


Speed over context, scale over depth, and generalized themes over in-depth understanding reigned supreme.  Unfortunately, for a long time, this preference has remained, and is still, favored by numerous organizations today, even though the potential barriers that inhibited the use of qualitative analysis on a large scale are no longer relevant.


The changing nature of employee voice and listening strategies


The last number of years have seen significant shifts in the employee/employer relationship and psychological contract expectations.  Employees demand more autonomy, they want to contribute and have a say in decisions that impact them, as well as be able to influence the direction and scope of their work.  Collaboration and ways of work have become paramount considerations for how work is designed within the theme of co-creation and involving diverse and varied perspectives.  In terms of leadership, we have also seen a move away from hierarchical leadership styles and more contextual and situational styles becoming the norm, e.g., distributed leadership and “asking questions” instead of “telling the answers.”


Against this backdrop, employee voice and listening strategies still need to evolve sufficiently from their roots described earlier in this article.  Even though technology and analysis techniques have improved since the 1920s, especially in the last years, mixed-method approaches are not utilized in most organizations, except those with significant and skilled organizational development or psychology teams.  This, however, is not the norm, and as such, in most organizations, employee feedback is restricted to an annual employee survey, simplified pulse surveys, focus groups, and interviews for some qualitative understanding.  These efforts, even though valuable, often lead towards interpretation outside of context, delay in taking action, and leaves employees feeling unheard and their problems or needs unaddressed.


The absence of co-creation during surveying and the lack of contextualized, prioritized textual outcomes slow the process of taking effective measures and actions.  Therefore, HR and managers have a hard time turning employee survey data into swift, supported-by-the-people action, typically showing follow-up cycles of many weeks.  Point-in-time feedback, i.e., pulse surveys, does not solve the absence of allowing employees to collaborate, collectively process and give meaning to others’ answers, and emerge more reliable or even new insights and priorities. These, still single-loop survey techniques allow limited opportunity for the workforce to collectively contribute towards the solution and remain merely a diagnostic exercise that is great at identifying areas of concern but limited in its ability to find solutions. “Gauging temperatures, but lacking sufficient, validated insights to make decisions, “a Director from Phillips, the multinational conglomerate, expressed to us.


Furthermore, the acceptance by employees of change has dropped, according to research, by 49% over the last years. In addition, scientific research proves that employees are key to the successful implementation of significant company decisions. “Nothing about us, without us.” A saying that represents employees’ willingness, hence instinctive demand to be heard, to be included in change that concerns them. A fair, inclusive process that allows a timely voice to employees is essential to make sustainable change happen. At the same time, leadership is regarded to take listening and thus asking questions to the next level, hence to take employees (finally) seriously for what they think, see and experience in their own words.


A revised approach must be adopted to allow the organization to co-create the solutions required to move forward through and with employees. We position three shifts required for a reframed perspective to employee listening strategies.


Shift 1: From single-loop methods to multi-loop continual dialogue


Regular survey methodologies (single loop), long or short, require an additional layer of dialogue for contextualization by people before being processed by AI.  Multi-loop surveying enables leadership to include people in company matters that are most pressing, complex, and impactful and allows them to submit answers and successively review and enrich others’ answers. Look at this example:


Single loop:

“How would you score trust in management. Please comment.”



  • First step: “How would you score trust in management, and can you clarify your score for others and leadership to learn from? [deeper thinking instead of ‘leave a comment’]
  • Second step: “Which answers inspire you most, get your support, and what’s your tip to turn this into action?” [actionable, validated insights]
  • Third step: “How do you score the question about trust in management on second thoughts while viewing others’ answers?” [revised, up to 60% more reliable numbers]


Deliberate open questions and disclosing everyone else’s answers to employees is not merely a sign of trust, hence increasing people’s openness to change their perspective, but also a way of collectively processing complex information and collaborating to solve problems together. A single-loop surveying process approaches employees as mere individuals by seeking their feedback quantitatively (scale questions for structured feedback) and, quite often, allowing a comment field.  A multi-loop listening process allows employees to review the textual answers submitted by others on questions that deepen your topic and allows them to re-do their closed answers. This new level of listening considers people as a living, learning network of individuals, hence a collective, inter-connected group, instead of only individuals.


This innovative step triggers interpersonal learning, makes employees more informed about a diversity of thoughts from others and allows them to rate others’ answers and explain their scores via a recommendation or explanation. This means they analyze, validate and enrich each others’ answers. Based on that, they may re-do their closed answers, which research shows is done by up to 60% of individuals, hence, impacting positively accuracy of numerical results compared to a single-loop survey.


Example from the field:


A company listened to 6,500 employees to co-analyze why retention metrics were decreasing, and illness was increasing. 70% of employees explained in their own words what they considered most important for these challenges. Over 4,000 feedback items were processed via the first round (first loop). AI and natural language processing resulted in a list of possible leading topics. Still, no conclusions could be drawn, and no decisions were made. Not until the 2nd round (second loop) was executed: 6,500 employees were included to review and validate, ie. prioritize the best contributions from their co-workers, and were asked for their recommendations. Their second, more valuable thoughts revealed that many (frequently mentioned) topics from the 1st round, were no longer considered the most important. Other topics were pushed up and some contributions and topics were pushed down, hence rejected. In a matter of days, the company made a tremendous impact by taking people seriously and improving on these key matters.


Shift 2: Seeking organizational wisdom through connected employees


The African proverb “the wisdom of the fish lies in the water” describes the idea that the wisdom of the organizational system lies within its people.  Importantly, this approach does not differentiate between level or role but instead views the organization as a collective consciousness that moves and contributes to the collective perspective the organization holds.  Expertise, solutions, and critical thinking can be found anywhere in the organization and are not represented by reporting lines and organizational charts.


Given the rising complexity of organizations and current trends towards less top-down and more bottom-up driven decision-making (even towards fully “decentralized autonomous” organizations), this further positions the requirement for parts of the organization to solve problems independently within their context.  To make this practical, decentralized systems need to be given the power to make decisions in the best interest of the broader organization, yet with the knowledge of the context and localized realities that would make the decision meaningful.  Furthermore, employee listening strategies in this context need to provide more opportunities for input from others and to build upon the ideas and contributions, regardless of rank, role, or status.  To truly leverage the power of diversity of thought and multi-perspective thinking, an organizational culture that prioritizes psychological safety, open feedback, and transparency will be paramount to the success of a more open dialogical approach. This deepens connectedness, hence connecting people to topics that matter most. Increased connectedness positively relates to higher retention and better company performance.


Shift 3: Reframe the purpose of feedback


Traditionally, diagnostic approaches relied on the premise that feedback was provided to look back on last year’s – or now with pulse surveys, previous quarter’s or month’s – results and key topics. Executive teams spent hours poring over numerical survey results and identifying themes from a collection of comment fields and language processing results.  By pursuing a dialogical approach, the purpose of feedback is not to seek an answer but rather to contribute a new perspective to build upon the collective intelligence of the organization.  Feedback is provided with the goal and intent of someone else responding, building upon, and incorporating the feedback into their actions.  The dialogical approach sees value in the process of connecting through feedback. It uses the opportunity to enhance collective learning, and to engage and build new perspectives in a much faster way, reducing time to action by 90%, as practices show. A shared truth and meaning are constantly created through conversation with a factual and evidence-based contribution toward the ever-evolving dialogue.


Example from the field: SpaarneGasthuis*


Leadership strives for a culture of dialogue, connectedness, and collective learning and sacrificed benchmarking-oriented survey technology (engagement surveys) to replace this with continual dialogue. While deploying dialogues at any scale, centrally (full workforce) and decentrally via teams and departments, they’ve identified and improved many key matters, such as patient safety, learning & development, leadership development, retention, and so on. Employees highly appreciate being involved in matters that concern them. A culture of engaged change enables leadership to move forward faster and respond to new circumstances more efficiently and effectively. Employee listening is genuinely about listening to their voices and how they reflect on each others’ perspectives.

*Healthcare provider with 4,500 employees



Surveys have a place and are important, but they need to be used in context as part of a more thorough mixed methods inquiry process. Primarily, surveys can collect numerical data to gauge temperature, not to understand nor solve problems and underpin decision-making.  We now have the tools to incorporate qualitative and validated insights at any scale and in real-time, giving richer and more robust insights based on collaborative intelligence: produced by connected people, challenging, reflecting on, and assessing others’ views. Continual dialogue is required to harness the wisdom of the organization, yet this can only be done by leadership that promotes a relationship of trust and transparency towards employees and a deep understanding of people being the cornerstone of any change or organizational development.

Please contact us for any further exchange of thoughts, follow CircleLytics Dialogue, or contact or connect with Dieter Veldsman and follow his company AIHR.



Transform4C is an expert agency in sustainable development, transition tasks, circular economy and climate goals. The Sustainable Development Goals are their guiding compass. They believe that government, education and business play a major role in achieving those climate goals and building a climate-proof future. They advise and guide projects by widely sharing the lessons of pioneers and putting participants in action mode during an experience and afterwards through online dialogue.
Request demo

Charlotte Extercatte, innovator and founder of Transform4C: “Achieving climate goals concerns us all. We shouldn’t just deliberate; we should above all look at what actions we can take. We aim to help accelerate those transformation tasks as a partner in the global platform of climate professionals ‘100 Months to Change’ (100MTC) which was launched in September 2021. Our goal is to inspire and empower 1 million professionals in their climate work to achieve the 2030 climate goals. This is going tremendously fast with major organizations committing and embracing our approach. These are the big employers of the Netherlands, who can make a difference.”

Experiences as an incentive

To this end, they devised experiences that are held in-company with open registration. The combination of the film screening of Beyond Zero during a 100MTC Experience and the concrete tools from the pioneers’ approach gives partners a feeling of ‘it can be done’. They experience an inspirational and motivational boost to accelerate in climate work.

Charlotte: “During premiere, we had around 700 people watching the film Beyond Zero. From CEOs and scientists to programme managers and students. We gave them a moment to organize their thoughts after seeing this film. We asked them the question: what concrete action can you think of that you can start today? By doing this, you can already generate 30% more action from participants, simply because you focus on what they plan to do. Asking questions stimulates curiosity.

Important role for climate dialogue

After such an event, people want a follow-up. The online dialogue plays an important role in this. A few days after the screening of the film, the participants were given a moment of reflection in a 2nd round of the dialogue. We confronted them and tempted them with the answers of others, to further stimulate their minds and make them think again. This works tremendously well! Ideas from others prompt you to revise your own thoughts, giving a much broader, richer experience. We call this dialogue a call-to-action tool. We want to draw attention again to that one good idea they named, and others also favour, or to encourage a decisive decision. Showing leadership in this area again leads to operational actions. We want to turn awareness into concrete actions. Climate work needs to be on the agenda all the time, so that every employee within the organization starts looking at how they can contribute to a climate-proof future.

We find that people are curious about what other people think. That is the first step of change! They also want to know relevant issues among the other larger organizations in the room. When using the dialogue, you get all kinds of ideas from the participants. Innovative ideas from the minority of participants in the first round also have a good chance of receiving the highest rating by the other participants in the second round. We desperately need this collective intelligence and learning from both ideas from the minority as well as the majority to get things going. When considered across multiple organizations, it yields special insights: who is more ambitious and why? What are the stakes, what are the actions of one organization and the other?

Climate accelerators

Before we send out the dialogue, we underline its importance to our client and the participants. We focus on what effect they want to achieve and, above all, how. The standard questions in our dialogue are: What is going well? What do you think could be done more? What concrete action will you take? How do you rate this on a scale of 1-10 and what affects you most? By the way, we came up with these questions in consultation with CircleLytics. We harness people’s brainpower best with open-ended questions.

From the dialogue, a top five priorities for our management team emerged – these are the ‘Climate Accelerators’. That top 5 is based on the most valued ideas and priorities within the participant group. We also give that feedback on the top 5 back to the participants. This close out is important. This is how they reflect on each other’s ideas and the data-driven results; it helps them stay in action mode.

With this programme, we challenge on the frontend while putting climate work structurally on the agenda on the backend.

Read what the Ministry of Health says about dialogue, validation and the difference with surveys

In company

With in-company programmes, we realize awareness across the entire organization. This means that different departments look differently at climate goals and the actions required to achieve them, and other departments learn from this, react to it, etc. It is important to first understand how everyone looks at the same priorities and which processes need to be adapted to implement those actions. So make sure you seek support and don’t just run after an individual idea without substantiation. Sometimes departments are diametrically opposed on an action because of different interests. Then it is important to see how they can still come to concrete action together, and how they can understand, strengthen and learn from each other’s actions and ambitions. Keep moving forward together!

Learning from each other

I used to work with dialogues on paper, which is time-consuming and labour-intensive. I also brought small groups of people together physically or sent survey questions for research. Now I can say that the impact is less in that case, because you only collect the answers. It is precisely that second round in the climate dialogue that is so interesting and determines what’s important and what’s not. It also gives participants insight into what others are answering, so they learn a lot from each other. Everyone becomes smarter, more aware and motivated! That only increases the impact.”

Pioneers in the Netherlands

We’ve now had 8500+ participants in our programme. Partners and experts who have committed to the 100 MTC include Deloitte, Ernst & Young, ABN AMRO, KLM, Regio Foodvalley, Renewi, Skyteam, Museon Omniversum, PME Pensioenfonds, SWP, Savills, Boot, hieroo., Mourik, AmCham EU, Impact City. With 30+ partners worldwide, they have started preparations to deploy the dialogue internationally as well.

Charlotte: “We want to connect the forerunners, as this brings a positive acceleration in the transformation process. In doing so, we increase our impact thanks to strong partners, such as Nyenrode Business University, MVO Netherlands, RVO Duurzaam Door, PhiAccelerator and SmartWorkPlace. We also collaborate with 10 Places to be.

We share results from dialogues and our partners as much as possible, because that is how we learn to transform together. Change is not something you do alone. Turn on everyone’s (open) minds and make sure you engage in dialogue, stay in dialogue and keep making progress together.”

Curious to know what CircleLytics could mean for you? Schedule your demo or introduction here.



Plato Academie

CircleLytics Dialogue is widely used in education. CircleLytics is based on the science of collective intelligence and dialogue dynamics. People in the online dialogues are not rushed by a workshop or digital session of one or more hours but can reflect on their and mostly others’ answers, over several days, through two asynchronous online rounds. No video sessions, no survey, but actual dialogues. Dialogues teach us to see each other’s perspectives, it creates nuances and leads to new common insights. That requires attention and time to reflect. The dialogue method enables quick group-supported decision-making, in a matters of days to a few weeks.
Request demo

This blog is about the different ways that dialogue is applied in the field of education. The dialogue method has been applied at institutions such as Leiden University, University of Amsterdam, Breda University of Applied Sciences, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, ROC Mondriaan, InHolland University of Applied Sciences, Avans University of Applied Sciences, Kentalis (Special Education) and many primary and secondary schools. Working with groups ranging from dozens to thousands of participants.

Read more about one educational organization’s road to better performances “The dialogue feels like a true victory.”

Key reasons why the Education System applies CircleLytics Dialogue

Democratize decision-making

The reason for using CircleLytics Dialogue is usually that organizations want to shape their participatory policy, improving their democratic work processes. Sometimes this is prompted by a direct reason: students or employees who exert pressure and express their opinions, but do so in a disorganized manner, or at unforeseen moments. That type of feedback is usually not very useful. You do not want small biased groups, which may not be representative, to dictate the agenda with their behavior, whether or not through (social) media, a joint signed call for action or a letter, etc.

Innovation: moving forward

Another reason is that organizations want to innovate, look for new forms of work. This is driven by three factors in particular. Firstly, remote working and the development of online education is forcing us to look for new forms of work. This is done to stimulate collaboration, learning and listening, brainstorming, decision-making, implementation, and accountability. Secondly, existing forms of working, such as a group meeting or sending out surveys, have already been digitalized. Technology such as the online dialogue puts people and their interactions about issues at the center of the discussion, and makes it possible to scale this up to tens of thousands of participants. This is what we call co-creation. The power of collaboration plus the power ofDialoog Dialogue digital possibilities unlocks the special, collective intelligence of groups of people. If you want to consult more (scientific) backgrounds on this subject, you can do so here, or by reading the book ‘On Dialogue’, by physicist and philosopher David Bohm.


Policymakers, teachers, employees and students are tired of filling out surveys. This fatigue is not because they receive so many surveys, or the length of the surveys. Our records, and research by institutions like Gallup, shows that they are particularly annoyed by the closed questions. The lack of interest in the participants’ actual personal opinions and experiences has an opposite effect: it has seriously damaged the reputation of surveys as a means of reaching people. People love getting attention and being taken seriously. Through social media, they have become accustomed to the democratic process of voicing your opinion, and they don’t expect any obstacles when doing so. This means that, for participative and representative decision-making, and to create broad support for your decisions, you should not wait and see how and where small groups of people express themselves. You should be the one actually organizing this information gathering. Technology allows you to do this with large groups, even with many thousands of participants. Clients in education and other sectors are looking for new ways to conduct high-quality, more reliable but also scalable, research.

Read here also our blog over ‘Which working  method? Meeting or Dialogue?’

Leadership & the intelligence of the collective

The third factor is related to leadership, and to modern views on the engagement of employees, teachers and students. The idea is to modernize leadership styles to better address issues in which employees play a more determining role than previously thought. Subjects such as listening to the organization, deep democracy, serving leadership, but also agile leadership are playing an increasingly important role. This requires new resources; you cannot solve new challenges with old resources.

We often work for organizations that understand the concepts of deep democracy and expect us to apply it. The minority opinion is actively not oppressed by the majority. This is important to maintain a balance and keep the dialogue going. This means that people can learn from each other, and can jointly and in stages achieve something better. Check out how Sandra Bouckaert, DD expert par excellence, applies dialogue and digital implementation of deep democracy. We work for institutions with a wide range of leadership styles and cultures. As a result, the topics may be asked differently by customers. It can range from “we are planning on ABC, what obstacle could hinder its implementation and how do we remove that obstacle?” (especially top-down, bottom-up for implementation) to “we ask you to brainstorm with us about XYZ and jointly determine the most supported choices” (bottom-up policy and decision-making).

For inspiration, we share these case studies with you. These are actual examples from education practice; they demonstrate how to unlock the power of collective intelligence, the wisdom of the group, and enjoy the combined benefits:

  • people like to take part: they enjoy being allowed to give their opinion and learn from each other
  • you can gather more and reliable insights in just a couple of days, two weeks at the most
  • you prevent your organization from going into ‘resistance mode’ because you have shown openness
  • no analytical background is needed to understand and use the results immediately.


1 Policy-making

You can involve hundreds or even thousands of participants in formulating policies. You can appeal to the people who are the real eyes and ears of the internal organization and the external market. By doing a broad inventory, you prevent yourself from relying on the usual suspects and allowing bias and established assumptions in your new policy, without re-examining them first. You can perceive developments in the environment – such as opportunities, threats, new options, internationalizations – faster and better when you see them through the eyes of many, rather than just your own. Except, of course, if you want to let your view of things dominate for some reason. For example, you can ask about these new developments, how they see things in 5-10 years’ time, what the institution must retain and why, which spearheads they see for this and that, etc. In this phase, you probably tell participants that your explorations are just that, and that you are not yet making decisions. That could be the next phase, in which you use the dialogues to ask for support, thus organizing support for your intended policy. Sometimes participants are asked about a ‘potentially insurmountable objection’ and, if supported by others in the second round of the dialogue, this will lead to some very welcome adjustments.


A closely related topic:

2 Policy evaluation and adjustment

The purchase of a new bicycle shed on campus is a quite static affair. There is not much opportunity to adjust any decisions on this subject. You can retrieve online input and ideas from a group and have those influence your decision. You build it and that’s that. However, most decisions affect the context in which the decision was taken. And the context itself is likely to change. What’s more, your decisions will encourage new behavior. Either it leads to positive behavior to implement what has been decided on, or it causes negative behavior you didn’t take into account. If you involved people during the dialogues in the development stage of policy-making, you knew beforehand where you’d encounter resistance and where there would be support, and you would have taken both sides into account. This prevents opposition afterwards. But if you didn’t, you might also have to deal with potentially serious new and negative behavior.

In short: non-static issues are dynamic, to some degree, so you stay alert. How? By asking those involved about what is having a visible effect, what requires some attention or tightening, and what can be improved. This makes it easy to adjust, quickly and with support. In addition, you and the stakeholders can detect early and regularly where new risks arise and whether they have observed changes that may have an impact. This way, you will not be surprised by any development, and you will remain in control of the situation.

3 Educational programs and quality

Clients test whether educational programs are sustainable. They want to know how education connect to the business world, how quality is assessed, what can be improved, does it attract students, would researchers and teachers want to participate? Our clients in education ask their internal and external stakeholders for feedforward. They combine this with the numbers about the students’ influx and outflow, student satisfaction, teacher retention, success and drop-out rates. They gather feedback and feedforward from alumni and the business community. Both groups greatly appreciate being more engaged, feeling more involved, and sharing what they see and know. The institution can emphasize and even develop new modules and program components based on co-creation with its stakeholders. Several clients are using the platform.

4 Graduation, research, PhD

Students must do research. To this end, they use methods for testing hypotheses, etc. Accurate data is critical. They mostly use interviews, and above all they use surveys. However, people suffer from ‘survey fatigue’; the number of responses is decreasing and surveys tend to create bias. Those with the most outspoken opinions may be those who, through closed questions, experience that you do not take them seriously. In that case, you lose the most important insights, and your response comes from the remaining group. This undermines the reliability of your research. For each research or project you set up through the platform of CircleLytics, you will determine per question which scale is applicable, whether you explicitly ask for an open answer, and whether you start that unique second round. You can also use the platform to ask ‘regular’ closed questions, such as profile questions that are often required for research. CircleLytics Dialogue offers the functionalities that the most advanced survey tools also present, but on top of that, it offers something unique that the others don’t: the processing of open answers in a second dialogue round, where others assess and rate those answers on their substantive value.

The platform is also used to co-create research goals, determine focal points and set priorities with as many participants as desired. This often includes external stakeholders or foreign collaboration partners. That, too, is something you can achieve digitally, but not physically.

5 Modern leadership and human capital policy

From the perspective of leadership and modern human capital policy, you want your organization and projects to be handled differently than before. You’ll want to do away with the old ‘survey’ method, or add deeper layers to it. Employees want to be involved; they want to be taken seriously, and leadership wants to respect and take into account everyone’s diversity of thoughts. You want to invest in employee engagement and experience. Our clients have noticed that regular dialogues strengthen these important objectives and increase people’s willingness to stay with the organization. By asking questions about how they experience equal opportunities for themselves and others, how the culture can be improved, the elements they are proud of, what are surprising reasons to stay or leave, etc. The dialogue respects and embraces the diversity of thought; it is 100% inclusive. It asks everyone’s opinion anonymously. This creates a culture that motivates work and collaboration, a culture where you lead and learn the common language of the organization, the shared values, etc.


In line with this …

6 Research among & engaging of students

Don’t forget: surveys are no longer popular. However, asking essential open questions and some scoring questions is. This relatively straightforward step provides qualitative insights that survey platforms such as Qualtrics and SurveyMonkey cannot offer. That is one of the reasons many of our clients are using our services, in addition to or replacing these platforms. They are applying CircleLytics’ better options, not in the least because we managed to make ‘participating in research’ fun again. And if it’s fun and valuable (because of the unique and critical 2nd round), you can approach and engage students more frequently. You can ask them to provide feedback/feedforward on lectures, teachers, websites, catalogues, education, practical work, events, campus setup, etc. Focus on mainly open-ended questions, only a few at a time and learn from their qualitative insights.

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

7 Don’t forget the alumni!

The alumni are underrated. They are very sympathetic to your institution, have built a strong working life, and represent a diversity of organizations. It is a great opportunity, exploring their continued learning needs and learning more about the market trends and developments. This enables you to improve your relationship with them, collect valuable content and use the information about the changes they notice in their working life. You can also discover what they consider valuable events and why, so you can improve attendance.

8 Recognition and appreciation

This is a tricky topic for institutions. Various institutions are investigating and developing policies on this topic with their staff. The second round of the online dialogue ensures that participants listen to each other’s opinions, learn from them, rate their appreciation and provide useful explanations. Any nuance in difficult debates is based on a diversity of perspectives. Don’t forget: a new policy can have significant new, unknown effects on behavior. In turn, this behavior can affect quality, culture and retention. Research can also lead to lingering discontent due to forces that are only emerging after you introduce new policies. We therefore recommend regular checks for recognition and appreciation and how these aspects are perceived. Which elements are considered consequences, and which are opportunities to adjust?

9 Let’s not forget about the primary process: education

Using CircleLytics, you can set challenges for groups of students or pupils. The challenges you set them, and the solutions they come up with, are discussed during multiple rounds. They get to apply what they have learned in practice right away. As a teacher, you get more grip on sustainability. You can ensure your students and pupils can really grasp the theory of the concepts. You also see how they approach, solve, and think about your challenge. That makes them better prepared for a future that is more digital and requires virtual collaboration with new technologies. So, it’s best to start early!

10 Employee participation

You cán and must harness the power of the people. Not only using education, leadership and HR, but also through employee participation (EP). The rules for employee engagement in education can differ from country to country. In general, such as in The Netherlands, an employee council has the right to engage all relevant employees to advice leadership regarding a variety of topics and draft-decisions. For EP to be effective, you need a periodic or ad hoc instrument to reach (a very large group of) your employees. CircleLytics has proven to be excellent for this: all the polls, surveys, and newsletters cannot compete with the rejuvenation of employee participation. CircleLytics’ impact is easy to achieve, and management teams and employees are clearly noticing it.

If you have been inspired by the way that other educational institutions make impact with dialogue & collective intelligence, now is the time to plan your introduction meeting with us.

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.


During change, there is a 3 to 4 times higher chance of employees getting disengaged or even leaving. Successful change and improvement do not happen overnight, but without them you are nowhere. You need structure – a conscious approach – in order to bring about change and improvements. Not just once, but continuously. People’s engagement is critical to this; you want to understand their keenest insights, knowledge and points for improvement, and more importantly; you want to show them that you consider them important. After all, change is permanent, a constant. Continuous improvement is the name of the game. The PDCA model is a much-used approach. PDCA gives structure to your continuous change and improvement process. In this blog we will explain how to use CircleLytics Dialogue successfully in PDCA. This ensures (short) cyclical feedforward. No change without employees. Change fails or succeeds mainly because of people. And without their data and insights, or unreliable data, you will not achieve successful change. The quality of the input of this feedforward and feedback determines your success. We will explain how CircleLytics helps you to obtain high quality data from stakeholders, such as and mainly employees, to prevent bias, mistakes and missed opportunities. It will also help to prepare the people involved for your change and secure their involvement. The tool is especially suitable for regular, (short) cyclical qualitative and quantitative feedback and feedforward.


How does PDCA work again?

PDCA stands for Plan – Do – Check – Act; a structural, cyclical approach in continuous improvement programmes. It ensures that you continuously and systematically pay attention to the steps needed to structurally solve problems. You can read more about the background of the PDCA model here. We describe all steps and explain how other organizations use CircleLytics for this purpose. In addition to tools, continuous change also requires a culture of continuous learning; being open to something better and repeating it. CircleLytics ensures organizations of efficient, effective feedback cycles, to achieve this culture and finally bring the necessary insights to the table. This cannot be achieved, or only to a lesser degree, using other tools and interventions, such as stand-ups, project meetings, and certainly not surveys. Our blog Survey or dialogue explains why this is so.


The different phases

Plan: identification of the problem and formulation of a supported plan for improvement

Do: implement actions, involving all relevant people

Check: evaluation of results, progress and analysis of deviations on the basis of data

Act: adjust activities based on the Check phase and make improvements sustainable.



Step 1: do you understand the problem and why?

In this step, you identify and analyse problems. Remember what Einstein said: “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.” So spend ample time on this step, because a lack of attention now, will work against you later. Ask open questions: who, what, where, how, when and why? Look for the why behind the problem by, for example, using the technique of asking the why question 3 – 5 times. This will prevent your team from focusing on symptoms and consequences, rather than causes. There are also other techniques for root cause analysis, such as Pareto-analysis, Fishbone analysis, Fault Tree analysis, etc. CircleLytics is a suitable tool for all these techniques with questions tailored to these analysis variants. By seeking feedback from a wider group than the project team or the hired or internal consultant, you can look beyond your own scope. You can also break through the hierarchical relationships in your organization by ignoring those you involve in the anonymous feedback. Next, you can start to fine-tune a plan based on that problem identification.


Ask the largest, relevant group for each step of PDCA

Two know more than one. And many more than two know even more. CircleLytics ensures that you easily involve the largest possible, relevant group in the relevant phase. This ensures that you will receive the richest input with the least bias towards what really matters. This is called the wisdom of crowd, or collective intelligence. Ask this group rock-solid questions and let them respond in two anonymous rounds, with equal room and voice for everyone. Our White Paper helps you to design these rock-solid questions yourself, but make it easy on yourself: CircleLytics has plenty of questions ready for you. You will collect qualitative, indispensable feedback. Subsequently, this feedback is prioritized by the group itself in our unique 2nd round, giving it meaning. This 2nd round is critical and does not take place simultaneously with the 1st round. This ensures that participants can learn and reflect on feedback from others. This way of structuring feedback yields the most intelligence (see our post on this with Google research or watch the collective intelligence playlist on our YouTube channel).


Some important advantages of involving the largest possible group:

  • a cross-silo group, across departments; diversity provides the richest input
  • break through the hierarchy by inviting participants “of all layers”.
  • this also ensures high involvement, co-responsibility and early buy-in
  • this ensures that people’s ‘brains’ are already switched on for change: the growth mindset.

We recommend a small group for questions that can only be answered by people from that specific small group (management group, MT, sounding board group, etc). This could concern budget or the deployment of people. For all other subjects, involving the largest possible, relevant group will yield the best results. As mentioned above, you can bypass the hierarchy. After two rounds in CircleLytics, you can directly read and apply the combined results, which have been further enriched by natural language processing and artificial intelligence techniques. The results can be intelligently filtered and broken down according to hierarchical levels, function groups, ages, length of service, role in the change, department, etc. This allows you to see how different subgroups may view things differently. The strength of the 2nd round of CircleLytics is that it is anonymous, and participants learn from each other’s (different) opinions. This ensures that the diversity of opinions and perspectives is as great as possible, which is exactly what you want to answer your questions in the smartest way possible.

Stappen van dialoog en feedback

[Photo: Round 1: open questions that touch the core. Time to reflect, no time pressure, anonymous. Round 2: all opinions back to participants in small sets; they prioritise these using scores and textual enhancements. Round 3: Dashboard shows bundled wisdom of the group; extra analysis tools and report using AI/text analysis.]

People determine the success of change

As mentioned in the introduction, people are the essence of your change. People perform or prevent actions. A review study in the International Journal of Strategic Change Management, highlights the main reasons for the failure of change and read also more about leadership’s role and behaviour and its impact on implementation of change.  More important than those of a strategic nature, is the people factor and HR/HCM policy. The most important are:

  • lack of involvement and participation
  • resistance to change
  • lack of motivation and satisfaction
  • fear of losing their job
  • low confidence.

Examples of questions in the Plan phase

We will immediately show you how our two-round method will benefit you. We do this with an example question: “What do you think is the real core of the problem and can you explain it in more detail? “The CircleLytics tool collects the answers anonymously, and in the second round, participants will score each other’s analysis and the most supported responses will be revealed. In the second round, you immediately ask for their explanation, for example with the question “Do you think this is the problem to work on now, why? This way, you will dig very deep in a period of 3-5 working days, with 10 or even 1,000 people. So, you ask everyone who knows something about the problem or the point to be improved, or who is or will be affected by change because of the actions to be taken. You secure the above critical advantages: richest input, buy-in and openness to change.

The above example can be realized in a few working days in two rounds. You can go through the real-time results yourself or together and follow up with the next step, looking for solutions and improvements. You can also set up a second feedback loop of two rounds with CircleLytics Dialogue, if the first results still raise questions. By the way, other sample questions are available depending on your situation, such as:

“What do you think we should focus on and why?

What should we do first to cope with [losses, customer churn, system crashes, …] and why?


Looking for improvements

You will now select the most prioritized problems that your team supports. Again, present these to the largest, relevant group. Remember that employees are eager to respond to open questions that are relevant to their work and well-being. Not asking them is not an option.


A follow-up question might now be: “For each problem identified, can you think about how you would solve it; what do you think is a valuable, achievable, strong improvement? “In the second round, they can score up or down so many improvements made by others and, when asked, explain “How would you make this improvement measurable? ” or “What is most needed to realize this? or for example “What should we not do or do less of to realize this improvement successfully? “. Your result is a compilation of the most supported improvements per problem and a compact overview of the explanations for this, such as how you measure this, what is needed most and what you have to do to make it work.


Now you can start planning.


Towards a plan with a basis of support

A plan without support from the broad group of stakeholders is doomed to fail along the way. Did you know that research has shown that 90% of lean-development projects fail? Therefore, our advice is to present your plan again to the largest, relevant group of stakeholders. You can ask the effective question: “Do you support this plan? If yes,  support your answer by indicating what convinces you most and, if no, explain what you consider to be an insurmountable objection and your alternative.”

Through the 2nd unique round, participants learn from each other’s insights, give support, and you learn whether there are objections that are serious and need improvement. You can iterate this 2 or 3 times if you want. This will result in a supported plan. You can complete these iterations in 1-4 working days if you need speed. Remember that change requires attention, especially in the Plan phase.


Now let’s get to work and keep checking!

Your sound, efficient approach results in a supported plan and in concrete actions to be carried out. In the implementation (Do phase), it is important to measure (Check phase) how this is going. You can either immediately start implementing on a large scale, or start with small-scale, experimental steps. In both cases, you monitor the success. You will build in fast, regular feedback loops. You will ask questions like: “How involved are you (still) in ABC change and can you explain this? “. In this feedback loop with CircleLytics you will ask: “What makes us deviate from our planning at the moment? “And in the second round of this question: “Which analysis of others regarding the deviation from our planning do you support, and how do you think we can adjust this? “. You can also apply lean models to carry out this kind of analysis and make adjustments, such as the Fishbone analysis that we mentioned above.


You always collect the feedback from the largest, relevant group of people involved in the implementation, certainly not just from the project group. This is how you avoid tunnel vision, in addition to the aforementioned advantages. Depending on the duration, complexity and milestones/measuring points of your original plan, you carry out a feedback loop 1 to more than 10 times. For these phases too, questions are available like the ones above. Because CircleLytics collects the feedback in a broad and anonymous way, and learns from what people support and reject, you will get reliable data. Without this data, you cannot check or adjust.


The Act phase; start adjusting now!

You check to know what, why and how needs to be adjusted. Adjustments prevent you from overlooking new circumstances or things that are going differently in practice. You also make sure that the change becomes anchored, sustainable. The regular feedback loops, the dialogues with those involved, ensure that the behaviour of people is brought in line with the required change. You don’t want a relapse.

Where things do go well, investigate the possibilities for standardization. Ask questions like: “What is structurally going well and can we regulate outside the project? “. In the second round, you can ask participants “Which points do you support and how and where do you think you can make them sustainable in the organisation“. In this phase, and on the basis of these reliable insights, you can come to the sustainability of new working methods, tasks, required behaviour, etc.


CircleLytics Dialogue; instant feedback for your PDCA cycle

CircleLytics Dialogue provides reliable feedback data, buy-in and openness for change from all stakeholders. You can deploy CircleLytics via consultants, who work on your (lean / change) projects, or engage them directly by contacting us. You can also ask HR to facilitate this tool. They are familiar with the enormous power, the positive effect on the involvement of employees and they know the big difference with (unwanted) surveys. We will show you a demo in 15-30 minutes and discuss a few customer cases. You can use the tool on the same day and start and continue in every phase of the PDCA cycle. You can use the tool once, but typically you want to set up an iterative process to realize change, sustainability and alignment of behaviour.

Contact us today to get started tomorrow.


Back to top
Close Offcanvas Sidebar