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Focused Conversations

Deep Dialogue with Life Experiences

The ARTFORM CONVERSATION, named for its original use in discussing movies, poetry and paintings, is designed to peel back layers of awareness to get at the very origins of the decisions and relationships out of which people live. The process is now referred to as The Focused Conversation Method. In addition, applying this method not only to art objects but to events, settings, and people allows individuals accustomed to the frantic pace of life to stand back and re-examine and reflect on their experiences.

This method was first developed in the 1960’s as a part of Ecumenical Institute Imaginal Education Methods. It is based on a natural process of thinking with four levels: Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, Decisional (ORID). The documentation below is a combination of early theoretical work and the evolution of the method over the years, while always maintaining the original ORID structure. 

MATERIALS FROM THE ARCHIVES

Methods Manual – pp. 8 & 9

The Artform Method as the Foundation of Imaginal Education, p.2 in the Transformational Methodologies document p. 2

Basic Art Form Method  Historical document,  no attribution

Conversation Relationship Comparisons, Summer ’72 Spirit Methods, Core Curriculum – week 4, Research Assembly, Institute of Cultural Affairs, Chicago, Summer 1973  

Cultivating Collective Consciousness with Transcendent Self-Presence: A Guided Dialogue Method, Jean Watts, Jean Miller Ph.C, Pat Kloepfer, 2003

Guided Dialogue: A Way of Accelerating Cultural Transformation, Jean Watts, 2009, Facilitative Leadership Institute.

Guided Dialogue, Jean Watts, Facilitative Leadership Institute 2010 1 Guided Dialogue for Releasing Depth Wisdom Jean Watts 

Surface-to-Depth Discussion Method, Nicknamed ‘ORID’ , David Dunn, pages 133-137 in Developing Adult Learners: Strategies for Teachers and Trainers, Jossey-Bass, 2000, San Francisco, CA

Patterns in Leading a Group Discussion, Early document,  Focused Conversation (ORID) instructions

Examples of Focused Conversations

The Basic Conversation Method (ORID) historical examples:

EI/ICA Artform Method Conversation Questions A Sample of Questions Used in Movie Conversations 

Sample of a conversation reflecting on a piece of art by Pablo Picasso GUERNICA 

Sample of a Movie Conversation,  Requiem for a Heavyweight, Ecumenical Institute Course: Religious Studies I 

Gridding Using Art Form Conversation 

Based on the poems and parables from writings of Chuang Tsu, Week 7 Quarter 4 1975-76 Week II Conversations 

An excerpt from The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, by Daniel Bell, week 8 1975-76 Week II Conversations 

A Book, The Milagro Beanfield War, Wednesday Night Conversations, ICA New York Region 

The Basic Conversation Method (ORID) contemporary examples:

Racial Equity Impact Conversation

Created by Prince Corbett, used with permission of HUE LIFE, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Debriefing a Major Trauma from Focused Conversations for Schools. Jo Nelson, New Society Publishers & The Canadian Institute of Cultural Affairs, 2001.

Spirit Conversation and Examples  

Conversations focused specifically on the area of Spirit are nonetheless another way of reflecting. This method is a different format, more designed to allow the group to profoundly experience the “awe” around a particular topic. Below are an article and sample conversations. 

 

Operating Principles of Spirit Conversations, George West, January 21, 1971

“Tears” An example of a spirit conversation, Joseph Slicker, 1971

Spirit Conversation, Water – CONTEMPLATION, Summer 1973, Spirit Conversation Preparation, Community Life, Task Force S, ICA Global Research Assemble, Guru Guide reprint, July 1977, Chicago 

Spirit Conversation: Social Anger 

 

See also the Inner Life Collection on Spirit Conversations.

Year-end Reflection

John Cock, Institute of Cultural Affairs Colleague

Below is a sample of an alternative way to use the Focused Conversation structure (ORID) by completing sentences. 

OBJECTIVE

Earth-wide events and the event for me …

National events and the event for me …

Community events and the event for me …

Family events and the event for me …

Personal events and the event for me …

REFLECTIVE

Laughed big-time when …

Wept over …

Enraged because of …

Hopeful because of …

Joyful about …

INTERPRETIVE

Really struggled with …

A big idea began to dawn when …

Was empowered by … 

I wish I had done …

DECISIONAL 

Stood tall in the midst of …

My most transformative event of the year …

My journey of the past year has been like …

My emerging story-line is …

 

Life Reflections Worksheet

A template or worksheet using the ORID structure to reflect on one’s life.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Papers on Focused Conversations

Methods Manual – pp. 8 & 9

The Artform Method as the Foundation of Imaginal Education, p.2 in the Transformational Methodologies document p. 2

Basic Art Form Method  Historical document, no attribution

Conversation Relationship Comparisons, Summer ’72 Spirit Methods, Core Curriculum – week 4, Research Assembly, Institute of Cultural Affairs, Chicago, Summer 1973  

Cultivating Collective Consciousness with Transcendent Self-Presence: A Guided Dialogue Method, Jean Watts, Jean Miller Ph.C, Pat Kloepfer, 2003

Guided Dialogue: A Way of Accelerating Cultural Transformation, Jean Watts, 2009, Facilitative Leadership Institute.

Guided Dialogue, Jean Watts, Facilitative Leadership Institute 2010 Guided Dialogue for Releasing Depth Wisdom Jean Watts 

Surface-to-Depth Discussion Method, Nicknamed ‘ORID’, David Dunn, pages 133-137 in Developing Adult Learners: Strategies for Teachers and Trainers, Jossey-Bass, 2000, San Francisco, CA

Patterns in Leading a Group Discussion, Early document,  Focused Conversation (ORID) instructions

 

Books on Focused Conversations

(books available from iUniverse or Amazon)

The Art of Focused Conversation, 100 Ways to Access Group Wisdom in the Workplace, ed. R. Brian Stanfield, New Society Publishers, 2000

The Art of Focused Conversation for Schools, Over 100 Ways to Guide Clear Thinking and Promote Learning, Jo Nelson, New Society Publishers, 2001

LEARN TO FACILITATE THE FOCUSED CONVERSATION METHOD 

 

The Focused Conversation is one of two or three foundational methods taught around the world as part of the “gateway” Technology of Participation (ToP)® course as well as being offered on occasion as a separate course. For a comprehensive list of current course offerings and to register, click here

The key structure underlying all EI/ICA methods, design, and curriculum is the metamethod, the ORID which is both a natural life experience and now a structure to bring life to the methods and approaches described herein.

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