Circle of Understanding

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The Circle of Understanding is used to facilitate reflection and help figure out the issues you are facing. The Circle of Understanding has been adapted with permission rom the "Circle Chart" from Roger Fisher and Bill Ury, presented in their book, Getting to Yes (1981).

We use the method for problem finding, moving counter clockwise. We start with inquiry. We ask people to first answer one another's Questions, in the Yellow Spheres. That leads to gaining Clarifications for the Spheres that are Blue. We then discuss Strengths to build upon, in the Green Spheres. With this foundation of shared information and knowledge, leaders come to terms with figuring out what are real Issues they are facing in the Red Spheres. Strategic governance becomes a leadership task based on shared understanding.

For each Sphere, ask participants to look at the predominant color. Then ask, "Can you live for now with this Sphere bing the majority color?" Their individual point of view remain in tact on the Reflection Map. The consensus color moves forward in the collaborative Guided Discovery decision-making process on another map.

To help arrive at a majority color: In cases where Red and Green appear together, we treat that as a "Don't Know," Blue color. Blue also applies where the Sphere has equal Red, Yellow, and Green. Where Spheres are half Yellow, we give the benefit of the doubt to the Yellow color. Where Spheres are half Red and Yellow, we ask the group to decide. In case where there are no Red Spheres, we suggest making at least one of the Spheres Red. In the unusual case where all the Spheres are Green, such as a newly funded company, we ask the team to confirm their views in discussion.

You will find the Circle of Understanding instrument below. Use it to record, discover, and discuss the Majority point-of-view of your team for each Sphere at your next meeting. Try it and see how it opens dialog.

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