Each Thoughtexchange you create can include one open-ended question.
We get it - sometimes when you’re a leader working on a complex problem, you want to gather all your information at once. It may seem counterintuitive, but when you ask participants to weigh in on more than one important topic at a time the result can be less engagement and fewer solutions overall.
A Thoughtexchange is an open-ended process that encourages participants to think deeply about a topic and share multiple solutions. As a result, asking more than one open-ended question often leads to one of two things:
- Participants committing a lot of time and energy to the first question, before running out of steam on the second.
- Participants responding to both questions with fewer thoughts that only skim the surface of possible ideas.
We want our leaders to benefit as much as possible from the wisdom of their crowds. Don’t worry, with a little patience you’ll end up with the same richness and breadth of responses.
When a topic is particularly complex and leaders truly need to address more than one topic, we’ve found that the best approach is more exchanges rather than more questions at once. Starting with a broad question to get general feedback about a topic lets leaders know where their community is starting from and allows them to shape follow up questions based on what participants have already shared.
It’s the difference between going into a meeting with a rigid and inflexible list of questions you want to ask versus having an actual conversation with someone where you listen and respond so that you can really understand their perspective.
Running a series of exchanges about increasingly specific topics not only provides more rich information for leaders at each step, but it also works to build participant trust in the process. As participants see their ideas guiding the direction the conversation takes, they develop an understanding that they are part of a two-way process of sharing and receiving feedback.
Tools that can help:
We’ve built in a number of features that can help maximize the value you get out of your data. Use Participation Groups, Survey Questions, and Themes to help you hear what your participants are trying to tell you.
Asking your participants to share and rate ideas in smaller groups based on their connection to your organization is a great way to learn more about the best follow-up questions to ask each group.
Asking a few questions about who your participants are can provide some similar insights to Participation Groups. However, these questions don’t split participants into separate groups. This provides the added benefit of allowing participants to see and rate thoughts shared by people with more diverse perspectives, encouraging them to think about topics differently.
Asking a really broad open-ended question can seem intimidating as you think about how to sort through all the responses you generate. The Theme tool in the Discover Dashboard is here to help. Organize thoughts based on similar ideas, how easy or difficult they are to pursue, the time-frame for implementing them, or however else will help guide your thinking.