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When reflecting on a shared experience or event, unstructured conversation is often our default mode for engaging participants. What happens is similar to different people describing an elephant. Each will respond from their unique perspective and vantage point. Though each answer is valid, it is also partial. For example, "it's a spear"; "it's a wall"; "it's a snake". All fail to describe the whole elephant. The helpful question framework: "What? So What? Now What?" (Reflective Model, Rolfe et. al. 2001). serves to focus contributions so all participants are talking about the same thing at the same time. The result is clearer, more focused and more complete group reflection.
Asking Good Questions is A Facilitation Superpower
Group Reflection Questions Framework: What? So What? Now What?
The What? So What? and Now What questions framework is a natural critical thinking sequence that helps to focus participants. Like the proverbial blind men and an elephant parable, so during a meeting, people will offer what they know and see from their own very specific and partial vantage point. Every person's perspective is correct. Everyone is describing the same elephant. But the focus of each person is partial, and taken alone may seem inaccurate or disconnected, and incomplete.
It is very helpful for this reason, when you engage your participants verbally, to help people answer the same type of questions so that at least everyone is talking about the same thing. Professional facilitators make use of natural critical thinking question sequences, such as this framework: What? So What? Now What?
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