NY Minute… or Hour in Question

Hour In Question is a way for practitioners to access the wisdom of friends and colleagues in a ‘New York minute’.

The circle structure is designed to engage Thinking Partners when one of us has a burning and time-sensitive design or work-related question.

The Process

  • Requires light preparation
  • Takes one-hour or less
  • Puts work in the center
  • Promotes co-learning
  • Builds connection among practitioners

The Roles

The Caller invites friends/colleagues/mentors/experts to think together about a burning question in their work.

The Host guides the group through the process.

The Harvester captures key points and shares them with all participants.

Thinking Partners join the process as co-learners and to offer wisdom and insight.

The Invitation

The Caller initiates the Hour In Question. They can send materials in advance, but this is not necessary. The advance work is (1) preparing a question that invites co-learning and (2) scheduling the conversation.

The Caller

  1. Prepares a question that invites co-learning and the lightest amount of context to bring it alive (people, place, situation);
  2. Creates an invitation with the presenting question and sends it to colleagues. Using Doodle to invite 8-12 people and offering several times usually results in one or more times when 3-5 people are available in short notice.
  3. Confirms a time when 3-5 colleagues are available (the ideal number for a one-hour conference call).
  4. Asks for a volunteer Host and a volunteer Harvester (works best if these are 2 different people).

The Flow

The flow draws on basic circle practices, which may or may not include using a bell and talking piece. There are four rounds:

Check-in Round (10 min): the Host offers a brief check-in question that helps everyone arrive and form a circle of Thinking Partners.

Example: How are you arriving and What about this invitation caught your attention?

The Question 1.0 (5 min): the Host invites the Caller to offer the co-learning question and give just enough of the story to ground the question in the world.

Examples: How can I best integrate fun and healing into my design for the Youth Leadership Conference? What is the best approach for shifting the on-going conflict in my group? What powerful questions will create a useful harvest for the World Café I am hosting on Monday?

Inquiry Round (20 min): the Host invites the Thinking Partners to ask questions that either clarify the context or deepen the inquiry. When needed, the Host reminds us that this is not the time for advice, problem solving, solutions or leading questions that point toward solutions. The Caller responds.

Examples: What more do you need to know about the context/setting/history of this inquiry to offer your best thinking? What questions for our Caller would help us get to the heart of this inquiry?

The Question 2.0: the Host invites the Caller to restate or, if impacted by the inquiry, reframe the original question.

Wisdom Round (15 min): the Host invites Thinking Partners to offer their reflections and wisdom to the presenting question.

Check-out Round (10 min): the Host offers a check-out question that helps all to integrate the impact of the conversation so that we can carry new insights and connections into our work and lives.

Examples: What about our conversation inspired or surprised you? As you return to your day and work, what are you taking with you?

Harvest: the Harvester emails the harvest to the full group.

Hour in Question is offered by the NYC Art of Participatory Leadership Community to our friends and colleagues in the broader Art of Hosting community and beyond. We look forward to your questions, stories, and adaptations (Kelly@goingupstream.net). Tenneson Woolf has adapted the bones of the prototype into a 2+ hour face-to-face circle. You can find a description of this structure and a link to our graphic at his blog.

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