This is part five in a series of posts about The Ideal Problem Solving Tool. In the previous issue we spoke about the Circle guiding principles and rules and I received quite a few questions of how do people actually feel about the rules.

So, I decided to devote this issue to showcase a few testimonials regarding the Circle rules from people who have taken part in our Circles.

All are equal and very important

“For me the benefit is obvious. To be compared to someone by a standard of experience, knowledge, or gender does not make sense to me. For example, as research shows in the crowdsourcing space, a janitor is sometimes more useful than a professional who spent 30 years on this issue. The professional’s eyes see everything inside the box but the janitor’s, they are wide open. Recently it has been demonstrated very often – experience no longer guarantees results. In the old days, when you wanted a result, you would turn to the most experienced person. Now, when we can leverage the wisdom of a connected crowd, the right solution can emerge from anywhere.”

We keep one single topic 

“We really discuss one topic and it is important to focus – as you know when we focus the laser beam into one point we create there high temperature and needed result. We know for sure how we can mess up any topic, we can observe it on the “ordinary” round tables or TV shows.  Those are definitely not our Circles. We concentrate on one topic, by doing this we shoe respect to each other, understanding, desire to hear opinions of all others on the subject.”

Everyone takes an active part 

“I like this rule since I am a professional manager. There could be many interesting ideas [in a group] and it’s important to not miss the right one. In this sense, it’s important to gather everything, even from the shyest people. It’s like you are gathering beads, you string all of them together and then you see you have a nice necklace. You may either arrive at a set of interesting but separate, non-connected ideas, or you may arrive at a new comprehensive concept.” 

Everyone listens to and hears others 

“While listening to all the participants I caught myself thinking…  It seemed to me that in my team at work we are using these rules. We have a high-tech enterprise and the results are dependent on each individual’s input. So we have to listen to each other and work collaboratively a lot. And only now I realize that I simply thought I was listening to all when really, in the end I was always thinking about how to impose my opinion on others. Now I’m curious about how to learn to really listen to others.”


“Inner thoughts are certainly a complex thing for men. We have feelings and desires constantly brewing inside. Fighting them is very hard. When we communicate with other and listen and participate only superficially, internally we remain in our thoughts and we do not listen to the other person. When I first became familiar with these rules I did not understand how I could disconnect myself from my own thoughts and listen to nine other people, but I quickly found myself worrying about missing what others were saying, about understanding them properly. To grasp others’ inner thoughts has become one of my most important tasks during the Circle.”

Do not argue, criticize or judge 

“This rule is unusual. By nature, we want to immediately argue, criticize or evaluate positions. I feel that I would have to put in a serious effort to comprehend the position of another person. Although in practice we see – I ‘m working for an international company – that diverse teams are more effective. Also, this reminds me of one of the stages of brainstorming which allows us to generate a bunch of great ideas in a short period of time. I hope that today will be about the same.”

Speak to the “center of the Circle” only  

“Sure, it’s a good rule. I understand it as such: we should not initiate any dialogues between ourselves in order to preserve the flow of the Circle and so as to avoid distracting the facilitator and others from the focus of the Circle. Instead, we need to make an effort to follow the direction of the collective mind in the circle.”

Rise above negative sensations.

“I view this rule as very simple: I already have my opinion. Then, there are the opinions of the other participants, which are very important to me because they add value to mine. So when I listen to each person, I try to focus on the fact that their opinions and ideas are of the highest interest to me! Those opinions which absolutely oppose mine and are beyond my comprehension are of special interest. Thus I rise above irritation and actually acquire a free education. This makes me happy and I invite others to try it.”