The ORID Method for Structured Conversation - Stories & Strategies Podcast

List to Robin Parsons chat with host Doug Downs about the ORID Method for Structured Conversation on the Stories and Strategies Podcast.

October 18, 2022

You know how this feels. You’re called into a meeting on something important where a decision or action must be determined. But in the meeting, everyone takes turns making different points (presumably so they feel they’ve contributed to the meeting in front of their superior), the conversation goes wayward and when it comes time to making the decision, everyone’s confused or (worse) misled. This is typically the point where the most senior person in the room then makes decisions, essentially based on what they thought before they entered the room, and the meeting has been a waste of time.

It just doesn’t have to be this way.

The ORID method (Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, Decisional) traces its origins to a person named Joseph Matthews, a US army Chaplin who had just come home from World War Two. When he returned to his university professorship, he was consumed with the need to help people process the events of their lives – to help people build meaning from their own trials.

Matthews met an art professor who showed him that any encounter with art involves a trialogue – or three-way conversation – between the art, the artist, and the observer. The Professor explained:  

"First you have to take the work of art seriously by observing carefully what's there, and what's not. Then you must look seriously at what is going on inside of you as you observe the art to see how you are reacting, what repels you? What delights you? You have to peel back layers of awareness so that you can begin to ask what it means to you. Art, the professor explained, is like listening. You must work to create your own meaning from an artwork, or a conversation.”

Matthews recalled his exposure to phenomenology - the study of phenomena and brought to mind readings of Soren Kierkegaard. Matthews used this structure to create, what was called the art form conversation, and what facilitators affectionately call the focused conversation method. The idea is a structured conversation that helps participants develop their thinking in a logical manner but following a natural human process for focused communication. Logic and facts are introduced first, then emotion is welcomed, followed by interpretation, and then a decision or resolution to the thinking process.

Robin Parsons was recently a guest on the Stories & Strategies Podcast and talks with host Doug Downs about the ORID Method for structure conversations.

Listen to the podcast HERE.

Click image to listen to Podcast.

How the O-R-I-D methodology cuts through clutter, chaotic thinking in the workplace

Clear Thinking is a method for logically moving a group through four different levels of thinking to evaluate or explore a topic. It moves thought from surface to depth:

OBJECTIVE (fact-based)

REFLECTIVE (emotions, associations, experiences),

INTERPRETIVE (significance, meaning, implications, impacts) and

DECISIONAL (committing to some kind of resolution).

This internationally recognized method enables shared understanding among all participants, leading to new and powerful insight. Continue reading about the ORID methodology here.

Written by
Robin Parsons

Robin has more than twenty-five years of experience as an effective leader and strategic thinker. She helps organizations have better conversations that help them work together more effectively.

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Parsons Dialogue is based in Calgary, Canada, serving clients across North America. We design and facilitate strategic processes that help teams collaborate with clarity and confidence.

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