Johnnie Moore

Going round in circles

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

I often like to host meetings with people sitting in a circle. It means everyone can see everyone else and it avoids inadvertently giving too much status to any particular individual. As I sometimes say, it’s the best way I know to organise furniture without reinforcing hierarchy.

That’s not to say that groups don’t arrive with plenty of inbuilt hierarchies, but at least the circle can defuse it a little.

I’ve worked in circles as a host and participant for many years and been present to some pretty amazing and moving experiences in them. So I’m biassed, and I try to be careful to recognise that some people may find the experience uncomfortable.

This sometimes shows up in little quips about Alcholics Anonymous, and I guess that for many people circles may suggest something thereapeutic in which there’s an obligation to reveal yourself.

AA references aside, I think sitting in a circle does increase our exposure and does mean we are more vulnerable – compared to the option of sitting on the back row, for instance. Circles lessen the sense that someone is in charge and that may be unsettling too.

All else being equal, I like to leave people to participate in circular discussions as the spirit moves them, rather than by rote. But I’ve learnt that often it’s more comfortable, especially early in meetings, to get people to speak (for instance to introduce themselves) in order. And/or to get folks to form pairs or small groups to discuss and then feed back.

But without making it a dogma, I generally feel most excited in groups where we don’t organise a set order for speech, and when it seems that everyone is willing to engage spontaneously. That’s when I think we get closer to the sense of a group having a mind that is more than just the sum of the individual minds.

I say engage, rather than speak, because the easiest thing in the world when facilitating, is to panic around people who don’t say much. Again when I sense a conversation is rocking, it’s because there’s some committed listening going on.

Share Post

More Posts

More Updates

Emotional debt

Releasing the hidden costs of pent up frustrations


Finding the aliveness below the surface of stuck

Johnnie Moore

What sort of learning?

Just want to point to this lucid article by my friend John Wenger: transformational learning. If someone wanted to learn something like ‘how to have a difficult conversation with a staff

Johnnie Moore

Leadership as holding uncertainty

Viv picks out some nice ideas from Phelim McDermott on the subject of leadership. “We love the security of the illusion that someone is in control. Even more than the

Johnnie Moore

links for 2010-09-22

Six Apart Is No More; What Will Happen to TypePad and Moveable Type? Yikes The Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism « BuzzMachine At least some people are trying to take a

Johnnie Moore

Blogging and control

Shel Israel has posted Chapter 4 of The Red Couch – Direct Access. As usual good stuff. I like the thought he opens with: that blogging can give a company