From Anecdote.com.au: “Anecdote circles are a narrative technique like focus groups except they're facilitated to elicit stories rather than judgment and opinion. The collected stories reveal what is really happening in your organisation and what people value. Anecdote circles are a powerful tool to gain insight and new perspectives.”
From Cognitive Edge: “An anecdote is a naturally occurring story, as found in the “wild” of conversational discourse, usually about a single incident or situation. An Anecdote Circle is a way of capturing these. It is a lightly facilitated, group based Method. People are selected that have some form of common or shared experience. As an example they will be prompted to “Share either a good or bad experience when…” in relation to this common or shared experience. Anecdotes can then be applied across a wide variety of organizational endeavors, from culture to strategy. They may also later be tagged or signified and placed in a Narrative database. The general operating principle of the anecdote circle is this.”
Developed by Shawn Callahan and his colleagues at Anecdote.com.au with inspiration from Dave Snowden, Sharon Darwent, Brian Bainbridge, Viv McWaters and Bob Dick
This technique is designed to elicit people's examples and direct experiences. The objective is to get specific examples rather than opinions, arguments or points of view.
High level facilitation skills are required to facilitate this technique. Ideally the facilitator will have participated in an anecdote circle and feel comfortable asking open questions in a small group.
From Anecdote.com.au:“We find you can run anecdote circles with between 4–12 people with 6–8 being the ideal number. An anecdote circle typically runs for 60–90 minutes or whenever the group runs our of energy. The longest anecdote circle I’ve run lasted 2.5 hours—it was exhausting.”
Focus on three key aspects:
- Design effective themes
- Select participants and the invitation
- Craft story- and anecdote eliciting questions
From Australian River Restoration Centre: http://www.rkrk.net.au/index.php/How_to_facilitate_an_anecdote_circle
The following questions are used to elicit experiences. Ask one question at a time, and avoid moving to the next question until the discussion of the current question has been fully exhausted. You may find that the discussion will naturally flow from the current question into the topic of another question before you've asked it - if this happens let it happen as you can always come back to the original question later.
This theme seeks to explore the information flows within your organisation, and between your organisation and other stakeholders.
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Anecdote.au's Guide to Anecdote Circles:http://www.anecdote.com.au/files/Ultimate_Guide_to_ACs_v1.0.pdf
Cognitive Edge's Anecdote Circles method document
Australian River Restoration Centre: http://www.rkrk.net.au/index.php/How_to_facilitate_an_anecdote_circle
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