The circle way – a leader in every chair – a social container for a new culture of cooperation
We have already discussed changes in communication, a new culture of leadership and dialogue in last month’s theme “way of working in the future”.
In current times were everybody is dispelled and hectic, we need to establish new ways of communication, meeting and leadership for better understanding and joint outcome.
The circle way is a tool to promote a new culture.
The circle, or council, is an ancient form of meeting that has gathered human beings into respectful conversation for thousands of years. The circle has served as the foundation for many cultures. The international well known authors Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea have refined and developed the »Circle« method/tools over the last two decades.
The method supports the appropriately solution finding processes for complex themes. During the process the community will grow closer. From the very beginning shared responsibility among participants ’a leader in every chair’ will bring engagement and fun and will lead to optimal decisions and sustainable solutions. The Circle Way is a pioneering method for project management. A paradigm shift in organizations can be forced.
The elements of the circle are:
- Rotating roles in the circle
- Responsibility is imposed by agreements, practices and principles
Components of the circle are:
- Intention – shapes the circle and determines who will come, for how long the circle will meet, and what kinds of outcomes are to be expected. The caller of the circle spends time articulating intention and invitation.
- Welcome or Start point – once people have gathered, it is helpful for the host, or a volunteer participant, to begin the circle with a welcome gesture, establishing the center of a circle. The circle is like a hub of a wheel: all energies pass through it, and it holds the rim together.
- Center and Check-in/Greeting – helps people into a frame of mind for council and reminds every one of their commitment to the expressed intention. Starts usually with a volunteer and proceeds around the circle. People can place individual objects in the center as a way to signify their presence and relationship to the intention.
- Agreements – to hold stories or personal material confidentially, listen with compassion and curiosity, employ guardian to watch needs, timing and energy.
- Three principles and three practices – the circle is an all leader group.
- Leadership rotates among all circle members
- Responsibility is shared for the quality of experience
- Reliance is on wholeness, rather than on any personal agenda
- To speak with intention means noting what has relevance to the conversation in the moment
- To listen with attention mean being respectful of the learning process for all members of the group
- To tend the well-being of the circle: remaining aware of the impact of our contributions
- Rests/pauses are always allowed – any member can call for a pause.
- Guardian of process – aids self-governance and brings the circle back to intention, safeguards group energy and observes the circle process, a gentle noise maker can be used.
- Check-out and Farewell – at the close each person is allowed to comment on what they learned and what stays in their heart and mind.
It’s a formal end to a meeting and a chance for members to reflect on what has transpired.
After check-out the host or guardian offers a few inspirational words or signal to give a few seconds of silence before the circle is released.
You will get a good impression / overview of the method by
Learning Map Nr. 9 ‚The Circle Way’, published by Kommunikationslotsen, Much-Marienfeld and Verlag Neuland GmbH in Eichenzell.
Related links that offer more information are:
I have prepared a whitepaper in German which contains more information about the method. You can ask for it via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your feedback and comments are always very welcome!