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 73-92.
I have just completed a course on “Gaining insight through movement,” a foundational module on Emergent Knowledge. Emergent Knowledge is a process that supports participants in thinking outside of the box and accessing their own knowledge. By asking repetitive questions and encouraging participants to explore the space around them, the process allows for iteration and the connection of disparate pieces of knowledge. One of my colleagues described it beautifully as taking a question for a walk. This questioning system is somewhat unusual, perhaps a little odd, but, in my experience, it allows for some interesting insights.
I am using this technique for my own self-reflection and find it very helpful. I have not yet tried to incorporate these questions in an interview setting because I believe to be beneficial to be face-to-face to gather information through this process, as the artifacts used can be seen and collected at the end of the activity. In pandemic times, we are restricted to online interviewing, and that is somewhat limiting as participants go off-camera while exploring their space.
In a coaching setting, online works well, but the coach does not always see the client and does not always know the content of the coachee’s exploration. For this reason, to use in an interview session, a few modifications would be necessary, which I will discuss later. First, I will describe the process as designed for coaching.
The first element of this approach is to generate psychoactivity in the space. This initial process is focused on ensuring that the person and their goal or topic are in the best physical space to start the process of emerging knowledge. To that end, the practitioner will ask a few questions from the list below:
“And are you in the right space?”
“And is [goal] in the right space?”
“And are you at the right height?”
“Is [goal] at the right height?”
“And are you facing the right direction?”
“And is [goal] facing the right direction?
”And are you at the right angle?”
“And is [goal] at the right angle?”
“And are you in the right position?”
“And is [goal] in the right position?”
“Are you the right amount of distance from [goal]?”
“And is the goal at the right distance from you?”
Once the participant and their goal are in the right space, this section is closed with:
“And, what do you know now?”
From there, the participant is invited to explore the space around them. By asking participants what they know from different perspectives, different aspects of knowledge emerge. We promote this process by repeating the questions about six times:
“And is there another space that you could go to from that space there?”
“And what do you know from that space there?”
This process is similar to the Power of Six, discussed previously, except that it adds the spacial dimension. This process can be finalized with an action plan, in which action-related questions follow. For instance, you may ask:
Is there a space that knows about what action you want to take?
[client moves to the space]
What’s the first action that you know that you could do from this space?
How will you do that?
When will you do that?
Is there anything else you would like to do?
I find this technique very powerful to think through things when I am feeling stuck. However, to use this in an interview setting, I believe some modifications may be needed. One option is to use this method before the formal part of the interview to allow participants to think more deeply about the topic without researcher intervention. This way, the knowledge shared at the end of the process is more meaningful to participants and researchers. Another alternative is to capture the data generated throughout the process. However, some contextualizing conversation needs to happen before engaging in this process so the researcher can make sense of the participants’ process.
I am curious to see how this works and am looking for opportunities to try it in a research context. I am also started to read Insights in Space, hoping to get more ideas. In the meantime,
Is there a space that knows about the next steps for you?