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If you’re interested to convert from survey (one-step) based listening and move up the listening maturity ladder, to introduce dialogue (two-step) based listening and drive actionability? Just let us know, and trust us: it is easier than you imagine.

Just bear in mind a few things:

  • employees are ready (for a long while) to leave behind survey fatigue and lack of action
  • managers are ready: they want to listen to employees, yet, it should be tailored and related to business
  • you can take with you any question from your previous platform and re-use these, after some re-designing that we showed you in part 1 of this blog; you can even keep the closed-end part to keep on collecting scores and compare notes with previous years and cross-departments
  • you can also choose CircleLytics Dialogue as add-on to your current platform and connect our data to your existing platform to leverage insights and get to higher quality, more actionable data.


We share this Ventana Research outcome, showing the absence of convincing satisfaction with regard with current technology, and surveys being the dominant technology in the current arena.


Now how about adding dialogue to complement and elevate surveys

Let’s now take a few different questions, from Qualtrics, and examine and explain how strategy 2) would work out: adding-on dialogue or separate, followup dialogue based listening, for the situations in which your company wants to keep surveys for some purposes but recognizes survey results alone fail to deliver.

Why would you do so by the way? We can imagine, in addition to the reasons mentioned in the above, you might want a transformational phase: experiment with new listening solutions, while not giving up on incumbent ones. Maybe for rational reasons to compare notes, ie. compare outcomes of surveys and CircleLytics Dialogue.

You can compare this and learn about dialogue:

  • respons rates are usually higher, in less time, without pushing employees to fill in stuff
  • employees invest heavily in writing/explainging via textual answers and recommendations
  • dialogue is rated 4.3 out of 5 by over 50,000 employees now, on a consistent basis
  • dialogue gets you to action 90% faster: simply compare cycle times of surveys vs dialogue
  • ask managers: they’re not burdened with post-survey meeting requirements but turn recommendations from dialogues instantly into results; this will be seen by their superiors.


So, let’s examine some survey questions, and see how you can build dialogue on top of that.

Two more Qualtrics questions are:

“What is our company doing well?”

 “What should our company improve?”


Here’s a few alternatives if your survey platform allows you to edit these questions.

“What is our company doing well and why is this meaningful to you?”

“What is our company doing well and how does this impact you?”


“What could our company improve according to you, and can you explain us in your own words?”

“What should our company improve and why do you pick this?”


This way, you accomplish two important aspects of open-ended questions:

  • make people think harder and this way invest themselves deeper
  • make results more valuable, by avoiding short-cutted answers or just one word


Now it’s time for dialogue!!

If your survey platform allows you to change the generic questions into – for example – our versions, you can simply export those open-text answers from the survey audience. Import these in the CircleLytics Dialogue platform, or use an API for a (semi/full) automated process. Start the dialogue. All respondents now receive first your personalized message inviting them to the dialogue. They will see others’ differing answers and let them vote these up and down. Our AI is driving the distribution of 100s or many 1,000s of answers in varying sets of 15 answers. People will also add recommendations to enrich their (up and down) scores. This way respondents learn to think even deeper and you increase their awareness of the challenges of some of the answers from coworkers.

CircleLytics’ AI and natural language processing techniques first read all open answers, compare and cluster these, upon which unique, varied sets of 15 answers are produced and offered to each respondent. This increases their learning, engagement and gets you their up/down votes ánd enrichments via recommendations, hence, gets you the much-needed actionability.

Management and HR will receive an instant, vetted-by-the-people result, contextualized by by the intelligence of the crowd of employees. This is way more valuable and significant compared to the mere result of natural language processing. Only humans, by reading, interpreting, reflecting and voting up/down, can produce natural language understanding. After all, it’s their value system and collective experiences that give specific meaning to language. That’s the power of dialogue: it’s the understanding of what people say and mean, that helps management to understand what to do next.

What did we examine and learn in this latter part?

  • if for whatever reason, you keep your surveys, then we recommend to consider adding the open-ended part of any closed-end question
  • this way you get more relevant, valuable insights to run the instant dialogue as followup
  • with full respect of privacy for employees, you collect contextualized, vetted results and leading recommendations via the two-step dialogue process
  • instead of mere language processing, you leverage your results to collect language understanding and prioritized recommendations, hence, what actions to take
  • this two-step dialogue process proves to be highly engaging and appreciated by employees and managers.

And now let’s, finally, see how to followup your survey by dialogue, via a separate step.

For this, let’s learn this Philips case, explained in his own words, by one of the directors.

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

and furthering:

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

I used CircleLytics to ask concrete questions from two perspectives:

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

Read here about the complete case, to learn how to followup your generic survey by two-step dialogues to dive deeper, and engage people in vetting others’ answers, while learning from these differing perspectives.

Now we’ve examined all instances:

1) replace engagement surveys by engaging dialogues and, if needed, keep surveys for focused research including external benchmarking,

2) followup your survey’s improved questions by an instant dialogue, and followup your survey’s result by a dialogue for specific items, and even for specific groups.

What triggered your thoughts most about our vision on people, listening and collectively move forward? What experiments are you open to? Reconstruct surveys, replace them, add dialogue, or other ideas?

Please contact us to exchange thoughts and analyse your company’s ambitions. We’re curious about your view on people, collective intelligence and why you want to step up your listening game.

A while ago, I was more closely introduced to a range of leading survey-based listening platforms such as CultureAmp, Qualtrics, Enalyzer, QuestionPro, Effectory, Survalyzer, Perceptyx, and a bunch of their friends. Mostly seeing them through a lens of measuring employee engagement.

I was very impressed by their capabilities and ease to set up surveys, and send, collect and compare the data. CultureAmp for example has a massive amount of data and benchmarks to explain how your scores compare to other companies in your industry. Qualtrics has enlarged its capabilities to analyse open texts, by a 2021 acquisition of Clarabridge. Lattice enables nudges, as does Perceptyx via their recent acquisition of Humu. By the way, while admitting having lacked actionability for over a decade.

This blog’s focus is not to hone in too much on the differences between surveys and the CircleLytics Dialogue, other than sharing and explaining the following.


A three-step dialogue approach vs a one-step survey

Dialogue is a structured three step approach via two rounds, compared to surveys that are designed as a one step approach. Via surveys (mainly closed-ended) questions are sent, answers collected and graphs, natural-language-processing-based textual analysis and reports are produced.

During the second step of a CircleLytics Dialogue, however, employees are more deeply engaged to read and learn from coworkers’ diverse answers to your open questions. They score these answers and as a third step, enrich these by saying what to do next, ie they give meaning and understanding to others’ answers. This way seriously co-create a company’s next step and basically: solve your question. Moreover, they will come closer to decision-making and feel involved in what’s going on at the company: this will positively impact their acceptance of and commitment (read this BCG article). Your question about fostering trust, increasing retention, simplifying work, progressing on DEI, reducing costs, innovating the company’s offering, etc. Anything. People literally spell it out. It’s the question you ask, that drives the answers you get. Managers love it, and employees love it. And that’s worth a lot. That’s the result of collective intelligence.

To us, nowadays listening is driven by the need for an increase of bottom-up decision making, asynchronous collaboration, collective instead of small-group intelligence, elevate people’s engagement and to induce people’s openness to (constant) change (see picture).

You can read here more about our view on people, on change and on leadership (we’re included in this human-first approach to change IDC paper). You will read here about our view how qualitative listening, through dialogue, fosters an engaged performance culture and elevated decision making. Qualitative listening via a two-step approach gets you a 60% more reliable result than through surveys, about what’s really going on, why, where and, most important: what to do next. This reduces time to action by 90%. Furthermore, dialogues score high on experience for employees, whereas surveys are dealing with survey fatigue and most of all fatigue caused by a lack of action. Dialogues score a 4.3 out of 5, by many 100,000s respondents by now.


Why are surveys still here?

Reasons for companies and HR leadership to still apply survey (single-step listening) technology may vary, but usually consist of things such as:

  • internal reporting systems are technically interconnected with this platform
  • benchmarking throughout the years with previous results
  • availability of external benchmarking (sector, country)
  • HR and others are used to this platform
  • there’s more stuff going on on the listening platform, eg CX, etc
  • the contract is still running.

And one reason we were recently told about, by an insider in the HR Tech industry: “survey based technology masks that leaders don’t really want to listen to what’s going on to avoid addressing issues“. What we instantly added: well, then these leaders neither want to listen to opportunities, ways to move the needle, solve problems… Listening to employees does not equal ‘listening to more problems’ nor ‘doing what they say’ but it does mean listening to solutions, listening to things that will risk your strategy, listening to things that can be more simple or reducing costs, etc. It’s the power of the questions asked, the framing of the context, that determines the outcome. As well, as when you step up your listening game, and add qualitative listening & multi step dialogue to your listening portfolio.

We never read nor hear back, nor have found any academic research that:

  • employees simply love surveys, feel taken seriously and invest themselves deeply
  • managers can instantly, seamlessly make decisions based on survey outcomes
  • CFOs underwrite the high and explicit return on investment of money spent on surveys
  • retention, trust, engagement, etc are significantly increased by survey-based listening.

Unfortunately, the investments in survey technology to engage, commit and retain employees remain unproven, except for incidental cases, exhibited on survey platforms’ websites.

We do believe that upon introducing qualitative, forward listening, connecting people with others, and them to true company challenges, companies can reposition periodical surveys, framing it as ‘doing research’, since that’s the primary focus. This might induce employees to check all the survey questions with even some pleasure, simply because they’re helping out their employer to do research, while they know that voicing their opinions is done elsewhere, in an other way.


The history of surveys explains today’s ways of doing

Did you know that surveys versus interviews and open-ended questions were, some 80 years ago, already the lesser means to an end to collect better data? Surveys gained traction only because of the speed and ease of processing closed answers, to measure the population’s sentiment; as input for government policy making during war. Not for reasons of quality, not for reasons of depth. Nor were surveys ever meant to make impact in any way on the respondents themselves: not on their thinking, not to spark creativity, not to rethink and learn from each other. Doing research is the primary, and maybe only, focal point of surveys.


After the war, surveys gained further traction to “measure anything” and find new markets post-war, as many companies had to do. War propaganda agencies turned to PR. Oil companies influenced building infrastructure to boost the automotive sector. Nowadays, people demand more than surveys and fatigue has set in, quite strongly. People want influence, co-creation, to be taken seriously, to learn from others, to better collaborate, and move forward collectively to keep their job instead of losing it. And technology is finally available to convert one-way-street surveys into interactive, qualitative dialogues, hence creating a new category of listening to people, and to build better companies with, through and because of employees and customers.

Nowadays we know to by increasing self-efficacy, empower people, and allowing (some level of) influence on decisions that concern their work or work circumstances, research (re job control, job-demand-resources-model) shows you will gain:

  • higher success rates for your change initiatives and strategic goals
  • lower experienced stress, burnout risks and cynicism, and higher satisfaction.


The old top down model failed, here’s our take from now on

We believe (and witness at many customers’) that bringing employees closer to what’s going on, diagnose problems, predict market trends, design solutions, simplify complexities, etc, not only increases trust and engagement, but also brings companies and leadership closer to success.

Take a look at this traditional ‘old’ model of leadership, listening and getting things done:


And what it brought us: disengagement, attrition, survey & meeting & change fatigue and a lack of trust.


Then take a look at this new model of leadership, co-creation, dialogue and to bring employees and customers closer to the company’s purpose, decision-making and daily improvements:


Given this latter, new model, listening to us means active-forward listening. In this context, you will understand why we redesign the way companies’ leadership, management and HR listen to and co-create with people.


Two strategies to elevate your company’s listening

We will examine and explain how to do this via two different strategies.

  1. stop surveys and move listening forward: combine specific and generic closed, specific open, and specific closed/open ended questions in platforms such as CircleLytics Dialogue
  2. keep surveys for now, with generic closed-ended questions, yet combine with dialogue. Either via a separated approach: survey results are used to select and prepare separate dialogues; either via a (zero, semi or full technically) integrated approach: survey results trigger a dialogue

Our collective intelligence and AI driven employee listening is, compared to surveys, a much-needed and timely step for HR, leadership and management to take, also considering Josh Bersin’s latest, quite shocking research (picture).

After all, it’s these days all about co-creation with employees and processing business-and people critical insights faster than competitors, to obtain high-quality employee data tailored to solutions to enable managers and people to perform. To engage as a verb, more than measuring engagement as a noun. Collective intelligence emerges when respondents are enabled to interact with each others’ thinking, solutions and ideas. This aspect of collaborative and network-based learning is what differentiates CircleLytics Dialogue from literally any single step survey technology and has put us seriously on the map and on our customers’ and analysts’ radar.


Stop survey-based technology and shift to dialogue

Let’s examine the above-mentioned first strategy (1), hence, to stop survey based technology, and move your listening spending forward and elsewhere.

CircleLytics Dialogue offers a unique, intelligent QuestionDesignLab with 3,000+ open-ended or open/closed-ended questions, covering all business and people critical topics and themes. Any question can be deconstructed and re-constructed into a better one, more specific and tailored to your people, your business, your customers. After all: everything is specific, and in specificity lies the uniqueness of what you do and sets you, your employees and company apart from the rest.

For this reason, CircleLytics Dialogue does not believe in external benchmarking, nor do we offer this as a consequence. How can you add specific value for your people and company, based on generic information about how other companies score? If trust scores 7.4 in your company, and 7.6 is the external benchmark, how can you compare these apples and oranges? Is there at least a clue? Or is 7.4 ‘high enough’? It is people and business critical to know what théy say and feel about trust, and what théy recommend to raise the bar at théir company. You don’t need an external benchmark to take them seriously and select leading recommendations to improve trust. And people certainly don’t need to be ignored for their recommendations to improve trust, just because the generic question scored above some industry benchmark. That’s not about listening, that’s about ignoring…

So let’s zoom in on a question. Let’s pick this one, from the CultureAmp much-promoted engagement survey.

“I have access to the things I need to do my job well.”

A few things we notice:

  • this changes throughout the day, the week, depending on tasks and project phase
  • this depends on my role, that might have changed a number of times
  • this depends on my coworkers and manager(s) that as well change over time

More important:

  • it’s an important question to be asked by my manager, eg throughout the month
  • it’s an important question to follow up on in, let’s say, days since it impacts performance
  • it’s a question to ask ‘in the moment’, about a present situation.

Remember, we’re biologically wired to forget things that happened. Not to remember. Asking people for input about things that happened weeks or months ago, is just a recipe to outcomes you can’t rely on, nor consider it reliable input to judge managers.

Our question design team suggests to change this question into:

“Do you currently have access to the things you need to do your job well, and can you explain or express your additional needs?”

 And …. have this question asked by managers regularly, not via HR’s generic and periodical survey. Managers can this way show they care and know what actions to take. This saves 90% time to impact. Employees feel this action-focused listening, commit to answering these questions and vote up others’. Everyone is set to go! And employees love this approach and rate it 4.3 out of 5.

Ask employees to score this question (the same as for the original CultureAmp question). And enable them additionally, through the power of dialogue, to vote coworkers’ textual answers in the second step up or down, and add tips/recommendations for specific actions to take.

Employees get to:

  • express their opinions (as we know, this directly impacts their engagement and trust)
  • learn from coworkers how they see things differently and experience this connectedness

Managers get:

  • answers that were supported up by the group, with their tips/recommendations
  • opinions that were rejected by the group, and reasons why.

Everybody happy. Managers can implement things to improve, and avoid things that are rejected by the group (voted down).

To make HR happy as well, this improved question can be asked by HR and they facilitate these type of action-oriented questions being asked on behalf of all managers of all teams or departments. The scores and overviews in the dashboard still help HR to track scores over time, and the CircleLytics Dialogue dashboard creates meaningful reports and insights based on these vetted qualitative employee listening data. HR tailors to managers’ needs and enables them to engage their employees.

Look at this other (beautiful) question from CultureAmp’s set:

“My manager (or someone in management) has shown a genuine interest in my career aspirations.”

CultureAmp mentions you should be worried when scoring below benchmark (65-75% range). We say, you should be worried when you score below what C-level has set as ambition with HR, and you as a manager of that department or team. Given the talent shortage, I must say I don’t care how other companies treat career development of their talents, as long as wé as a company do it our way.

Our take on this question to run via CircleLytics Dialogue:

“Do you experience that I show a genuine interest in your career aspirations. Can you score this question first, and then add your explanation or recommendation to learn from.”

 The manager can add the following text in the second step via CircleLytics Dialogue:

“Here’s your invitation to read what coworkers think and feel about my interest in their career aspirations. Which answers do you support, which don’t you support? Any additional tips so I can change things for the better, or keep things that should be kept? Thanks in advance!”

The manager receives a Top 5 and Bottom 5 of answers to the question, including employees’ recommendations. There’s not even a need for managers to sit down with your whatever-number of employees. They were given an equal voice in this anonymous dialogue to help out with this very important question and subsequent step to learn from, reflect on and vote up/down what others say. This phenomenon of collective intelligence (two step dialogue) goes beyond individualistic intelligence (one step survey) by a 60% higher reliability and 90% faster time to action. The manager is instantly helped, employees learned from others, felt trusted and taken seriously. Ready for action.


This whole dialogue process is securing employees’ constant privacy. All is treated and processed anonymously. Why would you send engagement surveys that people can join anonymously and take privacy away from people when you want to deep-dive?  After surveys, why would you require from managers to solve the red flags from survey outcomes “with their team without any privacy for people”? To us, that does not make sense for a few reasons:

  • if privacy is needed for the survey, then have employees explaining in a team meeting, facing their manager, why they take a negative stance on something is for sure something that requires privacy. It doesn’t make sense to take away their privacy at this most vulnerable moment
  • psychological safety is of the essence, and most leaders, HR and managers still have to tailor listening and other work processes to this much-needed thema
  • dialogue and collecting diverse thoughts and perspectives is best served by anonymity. A good read is “On Dialogue” by David Bohm, or take a look at this video by Lorenzo Barberis, PhD, or the academic “Collective intelligence in humans: a literature overview”, by Salminen.


Do you know it takes companies on average 8 weeks or longer to followup on survey outcomes? This while the essence of listening and feedback is to put it to work within days and followup, not put it aside. Do you know on average no more than 1 out of 5 managers actually followups on the results? For this reason, we recommend deconstructing employee survey based listening, and reconstruct it again in the way we’re showing your right here.

In addition to CultureAmp, let’s examine a few questions by Qualtrics, ie the EX25 list of questions, on which list we notice:

“I feel energized at work.”

 “I have trusting relationships at work.”

Here’s our redesign, but first of all we note that the question itself is influencing employees’ respons by stating ‘feel energized’ and ‘have trusting…’ instead of formulating these in a neutral way like this:

What can we learn about your recent level of energy at work, and can you explain this in your own words?

[at any closed scale of ‘low energy’ to ‘high energy’ and add a text field]


“I currently feel (yes/no) energized at work and my main reason for this is ….. ”

[at a scale of for example -3 representing no, to +3 representing yes, and add a text field]

Our design team at CircleLytics Dialogue strongly recommends to always ask a deliberate open-ended question, to extend and deepen your closed-end question.

So, instead of “I have trusting relationships at work” you better ask: “I have trusting relationships at work, at this moment, and here’s what it means to me.”. And include the second step: ask employees if they recognize/support what others say, and ask for any tip they might have.

Again, people can’t look back for weeks, let alone for months (let even more alone … a full year). To correctly compare results between responses, it’s consistent to ask everyone for their recent experience. Your results will then be comparable, since time frames are comparable. It doesn’t make sense to collect survey results without knowing what time frame employees are referring to when scoring your question low (or high). Can you imagine how unrewarding it is for managers to receive survey reports and they can defend themselves nor reconstruct textual (negative) feedback? The impact of feedback should be close to ‘in the moment’ to enable people’s brains to reconstruct what situation occurred and how the feedback induces learning. This loop is basically absent when receiving feedback late (or even extremely late), inconsistent and unclear in terms of situation it refers to. Can you image the opposite? Receiving precise recommendations, close to the situation and timeframe the brain can handle, and show employees that you took them seriously and be able to thank them? Feedback will turn into active forward listening. That’s the essence of our dialogue platform, elevating AI and the power of qualitative listening to drive actionability and move people and performance forward.

What did we examine and learn till now about our consideration to stop survey based listening technology? Please contact us if you don’t follow or think differently.

  • make questions specific instead of generic, except for maybe a few and frame these as research instead of listening and clarify the purpose of doing research
  • have questions asked by managers or at least from their angle to humanize listening
  • phrase questions in the ‘here and now’ or ‘future’; there’s where change and performance happen, not in the past: stop looking back unless you’re evaluating some project
  • introduce a deliberate open-ended part in your question to spark people’s thinking
  • add the second step to have open answers prioritized ánd enriched for fast actionability and benefit from the power of dialogue, hence learning from each other.

If you’re interested to convert from survey (one-step) based listening and move up the listening maturity ladder, to introduce dialogue (two-step) based listening and drive actionability? Just let us know, and trust us: it is easier than you imagine.

Please click here for Part 2.

The essence of CircleLytics Dialogue is that you apply the power of language to connect people with each other, and to your challenge, through the power of open questions. This requires first of all your leadership, a clear context and compelling open questions, and last but not least, the best online solution to make this all happen. We have for this reason, now developed QuestionDesignLab (QDL), with many, many 1,000s of questions that are intelligently suggested, based on your preferences and on anything you’ve typed about your dialogue, such as an invitation, subject, etc. Below we explain how you can reveal and finetune these preferences, so that QDL continues to provide better suggestions.

We also recommend that you read why you start designing your dialogue from the end and then go back: what do you want to see answered and what do you want to achieve or bring about with it? We published this earlier article at CHRO.nl about the power of people as one big brain.

Preferences: pay attention to the order

What are those preferences that are read and understood by QDL? When listing and briefly describing these preferences, you need to remember two things: they are in order of importance, and for that reason there is some kind of weighting factor behind them. So the first preference that we explain to you below counts more than the one that comes after, et cetera. We also apply an analysis of scarcity of words: some are more unique and relevant than other words. So, the best and fastest thing is that you do something with all those preferences! It gets you faster to the question you’ve always been looking for! Important, because it – to say it like that – forces you think hard, have doubt, try again, rethink and start writing. What is the context, why are you inviting them and what are you inviting them to? What is the specific thing you are inviting them to? What is your intention to do with it? We wrote about this earlier when designing the opening sentences in your invitation. We recommend that you read this through.

The text field for the question

When you are in your Question tab (see image), you immediately start formulating your question there, or at least put in a number of keywords in the text field for the question. The more specific and the more you type there, the better. What you type here will be remembered when you then click on the icon: the QDL icon is located to the left of your question field: that chemistry bottle! Then the lightbox opens. But first, these steps to clarify your preferences!


Subject of your dialogue

See the screenshot above. Don’t forget: you apply language in all these places to bridge the gap between your intention and dialogue purpose and your target group. The topic can be substantive such as: home work, training, diversity, reorganization, agile working, etc, etc. But it can also be a different angle, eg. Quarterly Dialogue, The Dialogue #1, Follow-up to Workshop, Question of the Month, etc. etc.

Specific context for a question

For each question, you may write a specific question, in addition to the general explanation (invitation). This helps the respondent to focus even more clearly on the precise purpose of your question, and also feeds into the QuestionDesignLab’s intelligence to suggest questions to help you in designing.

General explanation

In your Context tab you can then formulate your general explanation for your dialogue, for the first round. In that text field (see screenshot) we shared our advice about what you would like – or even should – to say there. This also really encourages you to think about what you want to achieve with your target group of invited people. And so it directly feeds the QuestionDesignLab to provide more intelligent suggestions.


Type or select words

If you click the QDL icon next to the question field in your Questions tab, you will end up in the QDL lightbox. If you have expressed one or more of the above preferences, you will immediately receive appropriate suggestions. You can then refresh these suggestions with the arrow icon (see screenshot), on the right side of the suggestion. You can click and select words that will appear in the text field above. That also feeds QDL for your new suggestions! You can also add a suggestion to your favorites list with the heart, which you also see in the screenshot (right side, tab). You can draw on this for subsequent questions or dialogues, and QDL will only show you a relevant selection of these favourites, depending again on all you’ve filled in in other text fields, such as context, question field, etc.








Interests and Models

In your dashboard, your homepage, you can activate Interests and Models, see the screenshot below. These preferences then feed the QuestionDesignLab to provide more intelligent suggestions. When you are in the QDL lightbox itself, you can also search very specifically for suggestions by clicking the Interests or Models tab (see screenshot below). You will then receive suggestions that already belong to those Interests or Models. If you stay at the suggestions tab in the QDL lightbox, we will ensure that the suggestions shown take your interests and clicked models into account. We are going to add many more models by the way.

And furthermore, good to know

  • if you often request new suggestions from QDL, we will show a message to specify some more preferences as described above, so that QDL can perform optimally with and for you
  • you can select a suitable suggestion with the button that appears next to it, and then click this Apply button and further edit it yourself: you can add closed scales, set the second round or not, etc; don’t forget to design a very strong ending to your question: just take a look at these tips
  • When you leave your QDL lightbox, make sure you click Apply so you don’t lose what is in your question field.

And: book a session with us to carry out or continue the design together. It’s probably included in your contract. There are no costs involved for partners.

Lots of fun and success with QuestionDesignLab and especially with the people with whom you will work on your problem. If you already have questions, book an appointment using this link.

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.

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.





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