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Facilitate to Innovate, Part 2: Focused Conversation and ORID

discussionA few weeks ago we discussed the importance of question design in my role as a facilitator hired to swiftly—yet very effectively—guide groups through various planning and prioritization sessions. In Part 1, we focused on Appreciative Inquiry, a model that can help structure this question design process by tapping into each participant’s potential to innovate toward successful outcomes. Focused Conversation, on the other hand, structures a discussion around a sequence of questions that aligns modes of thinking to build upon each other, towards collective decision-making.

Focused Conversation can help a facilitator structure and direct group discussions that:

  • Collect or analyze data
  • Generate ideas
  • Reflect on important issues, accomplishments, or failures
  • Explore levels of group consensus that may already exist

The ORID sequence provides one Focused Conversation framework, where participants move through four different question themes:

  • Objective: What do you see here? What is happening? What did we just do? What steps did we take? (Getting the Facts, Sensory Impressions)
  • Reflective: Does anything in this data surprise you? What information is most clear to you? How does this relate to your experience? What comes to you as new or fresh? (Personal Reactions, Associations, Emotions, Images)
  • Interpretive: What themes seem to be emerging from these findings? What is most relevant to the program/to the funder/to the community? What challenges will have to be overcome? What are some of the important decisions we will have to make? (Meaning, Values, Significance, Purpose, Implications)
  • Decisional: What will this mean for the organization? What are our next steps? (Resolution, Action, Future Direction, Next Steps)

We recently used Focused Conversation/ORID methods to help the Placer County Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health (MCAH) department as they conducted a needs assessment and developed a 5-year Action Plan. We facilitated three large regional data analysis gatherings, in which participants reviewed County health data in small groups, then responded to an ORID series of questions that were then shared in a whole-group discussion. These community perceptions and input on priorities were instrumental in developing the Action Plan.

This is just one example of how we can apply these methods for clients. To learn more about these and other methods we use, visit our Services page and the links below.


Technology of Participation (ToP) trainings in how to lead a focused conversation

ToP Book: The Art of Focused Conversation

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