The Power of Six

This post is part of my 100-question challenge, where I review work from researchers, coaches and counselors to identify questions that support participants to reflect and find solutions to their problems. Learn more about this challenge here. These are questions 26-28.

In addition to using Clean Language, David Groove has pioneered a series of clean interventions to help clients access their own knowledge and resources. Of those, The Power of Six is a particularly intriguing method in its power and simplicity. The basic premise of the Power of Six is that through repetition, deeper knowledge emerges. In his book “The power of six: A six-part greed to self-knowledge,” Philip Harland provides a simple yet profound visual (p.41). 

The idea of repeating the same question, again and again, may seem too simple to yield any benefits, but this is now my favorite self-reflecting tool. I am always surprised at what comes up if I am willing to dig a little deeper. It is worth a try!

The first question may follow a client’s stated goal or desire or even start a session: What do you know (about that)?For example, the participant may express a need to express her feelings better. That would be followed by “And what do you know about that?”.

This question is then followed by five times, “And what else do you know about that?” After these six questions, the set is concluded with “and NOW what do you know about that?”. This repetitive questioning may be an excellent tool to dig deeper into participants’ understandings in a research context. For example, we have used this tool to better understand immigrant women’s work challenges with COVID-19. Below one example:

What do you know about looking for a job during COVID-19? 

Coming back to Canada would be challenging, and it would take a long time to find work because of limited mobility.

And what else do you know about that?

I have learned that although we cannot meet people, we can communicate with potential employers and support networks through emails, phone calls, and video conference tools. This has come to replace face-to-face networking. 

And what else do you know about that?

It is exhausting and draining. 

And what else do you know about that?

It is time-consuming.

And what else do you know about that?

Extremely difficult 

And what else do you know about that?

It can seem hopeless unless one connects to a personal network. At one point, it seemed impossible, but now it is looking more hopeful. 

And now, what do you know about that?

You cannot give up. You just have to keep trying. One conversation leads to another one that might prove very helpful.

This iterative process of questioning facilitates the integration of disparate pieces of knowledge until a new integrated understanding emerges. The participant above started stating the obvious (it is hard to find a job), explore her feelings (draining and exhausting), and recognized that things are now looking more hopeful. She concluded by reaffirming to herself that she needs to keep trying.

In my own personal practice, I find that sometimes multiple rounds of questioning are needed, as each round may surface a new need or idea worth further exploration. Using this as a research tool, we found that some people benefited from it and provided more in-depth answers through the process. However, some did not understand the idea behind the method and stopped soon after the obvious answers were given. That is a reminder of the importance of briefing participants before engaging in the technique, so they feel comfortable with the idea. 

If you are curious about this method, you may want to try the iterator here

And what do you know about that?