Wirksamkeit des Circle

Whenever transformation is involved, it is stated that a mindset refraim has a key role to play. Many initiatives threaten to fail because people remain in their old “patterns” instead of opening up to the new. Even the best chains of argumentation are of no use. And even horror scenarios or idealized visions of the future miss their target alone. Time to reflect on a very old format and its power – the effectiveness of the circle.

The failure of transformation

Each and everyone is currently engaged in primarily digital transformation. However, many are apparently not making much progress in this area, and it can be often heard  that they are “lagging behind”. Transformation initiatives often drag on for years and seem to be stagnating.

According to the study Shifthappens 2020, two out of every three initiatives fail. If one follows the many analyses and studies that examine this, the disruptive factors are usually the classics of change management: lack of vision or future prospects, too many activities at once and the resulting sand dune effect, incorrect planning, lack of support from promoters.

And above all a culture shock. Whereas in the past, classic silos, services according  to instructions mentality and cascade goals were required, collaboration, self-organization and iterations are now suddenly on the agenda. A 360-degree turn, so to speak, with a clear panoramic view. A bit much at once, for one or the other.

The importance of communication

Communication is one of the central success factors for successful change, which is a transformation. Even if the holistic version of the Change. Lack of communication leads to resistance. And this makes the entire transformation process slack. Helpful communication, in turn, takes the players on the road, involves them, and ensures integration. So far so good. Has been understood.

But what kind of communication should inspire the transformation? Nicely designed slides with many good arguments. The arguments that are plausible to the creator of the slides. Optimized to the point that they convince every member of the steering committee and beyond.

It obviously does not work. This kind of communication does not seem to bring people into effectiveness and action. Rather, it seems to make them persevere. Otherwise, many transformations would not be where they are.

A question of the mindset

It is really not about communication. It is only a means to an end. It wants to move. To bring people into thinking. Change perspectives. Broaden perspectives. Create desires. Arouse interest in co-design.

It’s more a matter of stimulating the mindset to change. To expand it, to move it out of its rigid corset and comfort zone and to go on a journey of discovery.

And this is certainly not possible with a plausible set of slides. But maybe with good stories. Not with one but with many. Maybe with analogies and personal experiences. And with individual wishes and desires. And with the medium of emotion instead of reason.

The effectiveness of the Circle

And this is where the Circle comes into play. A circle is a conversation circle, which allows to reach deeper levels of communication. In literature several names are used for this circle, e.g. Communication Circle or Talking Circle.

The Circle is a “learning format” that is still actively used by many indigenous people today. For the development of their children or to make decisions for example. It has been used as a method of organizational development and facilitation in recent years for organizations and companies and can work true miracles.

For a circle, a group of people (approx. 6-30+) comes together, whose connection consists in answering a common question. These groups sit together in a closed circle.
This can take place around a table or in an open circle of chairs.
The question for a circle is published for all to see.
A talking stick is used, which moves from group member to group member. It can either be passed on directly when a group member has spoken, or it can first be moved back to the center and then picked up by the next member who wants to contribute.

The effectiveness of the circle can be traced back to the setting, but above all to its principles.
Each member speaks in turn and has the right to speak as long as he or she sees it as appropriate and holds the speaking stick in his or her hands.
There is no external dialogue in the sense of questions or debates, but rather contribution after contribution. Sometimes with reference to previous speakers, sometimes without.
Once the circle is complete, it begins all over again.

An accompanying facilitator can at this point set a short summary of the preliminary round or a focus e.g. with reference to the initial question.
In this way, up to four rounds (depending on the size of the group) can take place. Then the facilitator closes the circle.

The Magic of the Circle

The principles of this format allow the minds of all participants to come to rest and listen to each other more and more intensively. Since an answer cannot/should not be given immediately, the attention remains with what has been said. From different perspectives and aspects, a new and extended  view of things crystallizes in small steps. In mini-steps your own mindset changes. By themselves. On the basis of a diverse view, but with your own thoughts and feelings. This is sustainable and works. This is how action is planned.

Interesting is the effectiveness of the Circle. It works through itself. Change happens. Just like that. Without chains of argumentation. Without logic. From within itself. How magical.

To everyone’s satisfaction, by the way. It is astonishing. Everything important comes up. Represented by all. Thus a wonderful example of self-organization and collaboration is created. And thus changing culture. In every circle.

Circles also have success factors

Two factors are crucial to the effectiveness of the Circle.

First is this: the question. It needs to be carefully chosen and well formulated to reach everyone and to raise the potential inherent in the community. Ideally, it should be formulated in several iterations together with representatives of the Circle and the facilitator.

Then the attitude of the facilitator. No, a facilitator is not a moderator. Rather, it is a person who unintentionally shapes the room and “holds” it, i.e. ensures that the Circle process runs smoothly and in accordance with the principles. This is a very special art that needs to be learned.


You use the effectiveness of the Circle to make Mindset Refraim.
With us it goes well.