Before an Exchange
Resource with question templates: questions.thoughtexchange.com
Clarify the job to be done
- What is the opportunity you are facing in your organization that would benefit from bringing people together for input?
- What is the progress you would like to make on this topic? What are you going to do with the information?
Identify the focus area of the exchange
- Process - the processes you have in place to work together (eg software, systems)
- Structure - the structures and best practices you have in place to work together (eg teams, committee formation)
- People Development - personal or professional development opportunities to discuss
- Strategy - the ways you work to meet your goals and vision
- Culture - the way you work together and support each other at work
Get clear on your location from a change management perspective
- Planning – Looking for ideas and brainstorming
- Proposing – Putting forward a possible solution for feedback
- Announcing – Informing participants of a decision and asking for questions
- Reflecting – Using lessons learned to improve future outcomes
- Live – Capturing live ideas and feedback in a room together
Design your question
- Ask an open-ended question
- Include a qualifier to help with starring
- Eg ‘most important’, ‘biggest challenge’, ‘we should’
- Keep it simple
- Ask for input and feedback as often and as early as you can when leading change
- Make it too long or complex
- Put two ideas forward for feedback - can create polarization
- Should we do this or that?
- Ask for feedback you can’t/won’t use
- Communicate the progress you are trying to make.
- How is this information going to be used?
- Explain why you want your participants involved.
- Clear understanding will help with participation rates
- Use video in the background
- It’s different and catches people’s attention
- Allows you to communicate the emotion and nuances beyond the written words you use
- Can bring props or visuals to the discussion
The Invitation Email
Resource with example emails: https://get.thoughtexchange.help/hc/en-us/categories/115000659028-Leading-an-exchange
- Put the call to action first
- Place the content and reasoning below
- Share some details that it’s a new tool called Thoughtexchange (see resource)
- Give them the numbers
- 1 question
- Estimated time to complete
- Date and time the exchange closes
- Explain why it’s important to participate
- Help each individual understand why they should take a few minutes to participate
During an Exchange
- Encourage people to come back into the exchange to do more starring
- Send at least 2 reminders throughout the span of a 5-7 day exchange
- Participate yourself to confirm or test your hypothesis
After the exchange
Comment on top thoughts
- Decide on number of top thoughts to comment on (eg 5,10,20)
- Comment in one of four ways:
- Acknowledge the thought - say thank you for the thought
- Be Curious - not clear or want to learn more, invite further discussion if needed
- Challenge - it’s ok to disagree with a thought if it’s not something that can be done now or isn’t the right direction, simply say so
- Appreciate Insight - when the thought sparks ideas for you or provides you with insight, share the nature of that insight with the participants
- Skip a thought - it can lead to confusion or distrust so even if two thoughts seem the same, respond to both
- Be defensive - try to invite more conversation or lean into curiosity if a thought makes you feel defensive
- Democratize the results - Thoughtexchange is a tool to bring people together around important topics and democratizing results (top thought wins) can devalue the input of others.
- Oversimplify - simply saying ‘thanks’ to every thought won’t give participants confidence that their input is really valued
Include a summary
- Thank everyone for their time and participation
- Qualify the nature of your insight from reviewing the results: Pick a Key Word!
- Answer: What progress will I make? What happens next?
- Invite exploration back into the exchange to Discover the full results.