"How can we get employees to think about organizational issues on their own?" Many managers and managers are facing these concerns. By unraveling the contents of our worries, we come across a common illness in modern society, in which the human "recognition" and "relationship" are fixed. Fixed awareness impedes deeper understanding of things and creative thinking. And if the relationship is fixed, it becomes difficult to correct the mutual recognition and the deviation of the premise. In this way, it creates the problem of "if you want to change, you will not change".
What is the key to overcoming this situation? This book gives us a new weapon called "question design." What we need is not to rush to give an "answer" to the task. Instead, it is more important to capture the essence of the problem, design a “question” that will break the current situation, and share it with the parties at the workshop.
Question design has traditionally been difficult to create systematic theories. However, the authors have presented many ideas and know-how for facilitating essential questions and facilitating creative dialogue beyond the technical theory of facilitation in a narrow sense, based on the experience of numerous workshops. .. As you read more, you will become more enthusiastic about your members and understand the essence of "questions" and "dialogues" that bring out the results of your team.
This book is a valuable guide for business people who want to tackle big problems with innovative ideas.
Main points of this book
The fixed "recognition" and "relationship" create a state that "even if you want to change, you will not change." What shakes them is the "question" that stimulates human thoughts and feelings and creates dialogue.
"Question design" consists of "problem design" that defines the problem to be solved and "process design" that promotes dialogue.
A workshop is "a technique of learning and creation through dialogue, which comes from a different perspective than usual."
The design of questions in a workshop is the design of the process of being aware of something, changing the group, or emerging a new idea.
[Must read!] What is the question design?
Where do elephant boogers collect?
Before thinking about the design of the question, we have to face the question "what is the question?" in the first place. For the act of asking, the act of "giving an answer" is assumed as a set. Depending on the setting of the question, the answer derived can change. This is one of the basic properties of the question.
Of course, the question isn't just about getting a good answer. Stimulating human thoughts and feelings is also one of the basic characteristics of questions. By motivating "I want to think", I am shaking the perception that I am stuck in everyday.
For example, what if you went to the zoo and asked, "Where does the elephant's booger collect?" After a lot of thought, you might want to discuss this question with someone. Thus, questions also have the basic property of inducing collective communication.
"Dialogue" that shakes awareness and relationships
There are four types of communication that arises from questions: "discussion," "discussion," "dialogue," and "chat." Above all, it is the dialogue that shakes the fixed recognition and the relationship. Dialogue emphasizes meaning to things, that is, individual recognition. Therefore, the implicit recognition of each person is visualized and relativized, and the recognition is asked again, and it becomes a chance to understand each other.
In the process of confronting questions through dialogue, individual recognition is introspected. Dialogue makes us aware of discontinuities due to differences in the implicit assumptions of individuals. Furthermore, it encourages imagination about the perceptions of others different from oneself, and creates new common perceptions and relationships. In this way, group relationships are reconstructed in the process of confronting questions through dialogue.
Creative dialogue to emerge new ideas
When dialogue creates new relationships, new ideas may emerge. Questions create new questions and trigger creative dialogue. But whether this really can be done depends on the design of the question to be asked.
To begin with, the answer to a question is not an objective correct answer. From the standpoint of social constructivism, what we think to be reality is taken into account only by the communication of the parties concerned and agreed. For example, when a problem occurs in an organization, a third party cannot say "this is the problem". The parties themselves have no choice but to engage in dialogue and reconstruct the reality.
Way of thinking to recapture the problem
The question design consists of "task design" and "process design". The problems that occur in various scenes of companies, schools, and areas are not always clear what to ask for. Rather, although the "vague and unsuccessful situation" is recognized, there are many cases where the goal is ambiguous. Task design is to clearly define an ambiguous problem as a “task to be solved” so that stakeholders can positively agree.
Of course it's not easy. There are "common failure patterns" in which the setting of tasks is self-centered and honorable. What is needed is to capture the essence of the problem and stimulate the thoughts and feelings of the parties involved. For that purpose, thinking methods such as “simple thinking” that puts aside the background knowledge once and “natural evil thinking” that dares to grasp things critically are effective. In addition, "tool thinking," "structured thinking," and "philosophical thinking" are also useful in catching problems.
Steps to define an issue
In the first place, “problem” refers to a problem that has been positively agreed by the parties concerned to be “solved”. Defining the right issue is the first step in designing a question. However, it is rare that the parties in the middle of the problem have set and set goals appropriately. When defining a task, it is advisable to take the following five steps.
The first is "confirmation of requirements" of the problem situation. Next is “refining the goal”. Specifically, the goals are broken down in the short-term, medium-term, and long-term, and prioritized. In addition, we will categorize the results into three goals: process goals and visions.
The third step is "examination of inhibiting factors". We will take a closer look at the factors that hinder the achievement of goals, such as the stereotypes of the parties being strong or the inability to form consensus. Then, it can trigger the target modification.
From here, proceed to the fourth step, “resetting the goals”. “Reframing”, which changes the framework of recognition, is effective for resetting goals. Changing the subject and re-questioning the cause is another reframing technique.
The last step is "definition of issues." When defining a task, "examination of obstructive factors" and "resetting of goals" are to make a round-trip of each task and to outline the task. When you can see the problem to be solved, write it down into sentences. Then, in the process of obtaining the consensus of the concerned parties, a final confirmation is made as to whether or not it is a good task.
Criteria for "good issues"
So what is a good task in the first place? To evaluate this, you should check three points. How effectively can it solve a situation that was perceived as a problem (effectiveness)? How much value is added to society (social significance). Is it a problem that the related people can think “I want to solve” from the heart (internal motive)?
If you can set up an issue that will drive the urge of the parties, you can finally involve the parties and develop a creative dialogue.
Essential features of the workshop
From here, we will define what is a workshop. Many people think that it is a workshop to spread the imitation paper in the conference room, write their opinions on colorful sticky notes, and speak. The four essences of "unusuality," "cooperativity," "democracy," and "experimentality" are useful there. Taking these into consideration, the workshop can be defined as "a learning and creation method through dialogue, which is conceived from a viewpoint different from usual."
In the first place, a workshop means a “studio”. From that point of view, it can be regarded as a pairing concept with a “factory” that efficiently mass-produces according to the blueprint from the top down. In other words, the workshop is an approach to enjoy the process of learning by making trial and error from the bottom up, learning from mistakes.
However, the introduction of the workshop does not mean that we can immediately come up with a new idea or deepen the ideas of the people involved. It is the role of the facilitator to lead the progress of the workshop and guide the participants to the core discussion.
What is a workshop? Experience process design
As the workshop progresses, the skilled facilitator will use various “questions” according to the state of the participants' discussions. In order to create a place for creative dialogue, it is important to be aware of the implicit premise of the participants and to ask strong questions that shake and dispel it.
How do you deepen your thinking, and how do some ideas combine to create new creativity? Questions can only be exercised if sufficient attention is paid to these processes.
Designing questions in a workshop is designing the process of experience. Experience here means a change in which a person notices something, a group changes, or a new idea emerges. The group moves away from their daily experiences, thinks about tasks that are defined from a different perspective than usual, and reconstitutes their awareness and relationships while having dialogue with each other. It is the essence of workshop design that guides the process of such experience.
The procedure for designing questions in the workshop consists of the following three steps. I would like to transfer the details of each to this document.
(1) Examine the process of experience necessary for problem solving
(2) Create a set of questions corresponding to experience
(3) Combining scaffolding questions into a program
Why is facilitation difficult?
Many people are aware that “facilitation of workshops is difficult”. The difficulty can be roughly classified into the following seven types. The seven are "motivation and atmosphere creation" "appropriate explanation" "communication support" "participant status grasp" "response to unexpected situations" "program adjustment" "other".
These difficulties are not necessarily due to the lack of facilitator competence. It is greatly influenced by the design of the questions we made during the program design stage.
What are the facilitator core skills?
It has been stated that the facilitator needs the skills to think and grasp the essence of the problem and program design. In addition, six core skills related to workshop management are also required. The six are “explanatory power,” “observation power of the field,” “improvement power,” “information editing power,” “reframing power,” and “holding power of the space.”
Unlike meetings, workshops encourage goals that are not bound by stereotypes and processes in which various meanings are created through dialogue, while preparing goals and programs. Therefore, unexpected developments often occur. On the other hand, if you say "anything is possible", there is a risk that you will run out of time while deviating from your goal.
The holding power of the field is the power to support the field where the independence and creativity of the participants are demonstrated without controlling the field. It can be said that the skill that holds the place of the workshop is the facilitation itself that mobilizes the other five core skills.
Facilitation technology for deepening dialogue
A workshop is an extraordinary place to approach a theme from a different perspective than usual. Therefore, in the introduction facilitation, it is necessary to carefully explain the background and form an attitude to participate in the program. It is also important to announce the stance of the facilitator.
In "creating activities" that generate ideas, you must observe at three levels: field level, group level, and individual level. At the field level, it monitors the state of whether the field is exciting or sloppy. At the end, a summary facilitation is held to share the outcomes of the creative dialogue. At the same time as sharing what we understand, it is also important to ask questions that we did not understand and ask participants to bring back the questions.
A place for creative dialogue is one where many questions that make you want to take them home are created, rather than all questions being solved on the spot.
Recommendation of reading
This book presents all the ideas and know-how to promote creative dialogue through workshops and help solve problems in companies, schools, and communities. But "solving a problem" does not mean submitting a model answer to a top-down directed request. It is a process that takes a certain amount of time because it is a change in the perceptions and relationships of the people that make up the group.
The workshop is not a magic wand, but if you use it well, you'll get results you never get with routine work. Please take this book with you and read the examples in the final chapter. You can see how the author conducts the workshop based on the polite "question design". The method must renew the image of the workshop that many people have.
"Question design" and the creative dialogue derived from it require a "place" where stakeholders can gather. With the spread of new-type coronaviruses becoming more commonplace, teleworking is becoming more commonplace. This is a highly thought-provoking book that can make you think about such things.