Time required:

From 5 min to several days

Number of participants:

It's hard to talk to yourself, so at least two ;)


Depends on how you use it


I developed this tool in my former company Fandenivoldsk Forandring


Want to hear more about Conversations that create movement?

Want to hear more about Conversations that create movement?

Surprisingly, many of the conversations, meetings and workshops we attend do not move anything. No progress, learning or action. This little model serves as a thought model, a process design and an actual conversation tool. It defines four different spaces or phases of a good evolving conversation, meeting or process.

Understand the model

First phase: The space of reacting – Where we present our individual opinions and knowledge
This space is what you see in traditional debate formats where participants take turns presenting their respective positions, perspectives or opinions. This space is the starting point, so to speak, the presentation of the data available in the room. When this space works well, you feel safe to talk about what’s on your mind.

There are two versions of ‘conversations’ that never ‘leaves’ this first space. One is the form we know from politics, where the debating parties keep repeating what they had previously intended to say in the room. The second is spoken word formats, petche-kutcha formats and other formats where you take turns on stage to present a perspective without further exchange.

Second phase: The space of reflection – Where we seek insights into each other’s experiences, emotions and culture
Here, we are curious about the background to what has just been presented in the previous room. This is where questions from one participants to another give rise to reflection and self-examination. It’s important to keep curiosity and exploration at the top in this space. We’re still looking back – we’re exploring together how we each got to the position we take.

Third phase: The space of visions – Where we seek to build a vision that we can share
Now we’re moving into the more future-oriented. We explore what can bring us together based on the examination we have had of our individual positions and experiences. It often turns out that it’s much easier to find something common to hope for in the future than to agree on how you’ve seen the world until now. Once you have a shared vision, with respect for each other’s respective backstories, you can start telling new stories together.

Fourth phase: The space of proaction – Where we start taking action and making concrete plans together
The fourth space is where we want to end the conversation when it comes to putting things in motion. If no one starts pushing things, nothing will ever move. Therefore, the shared vision must be backed up by the answer to the question: “What is the first thing we need to do together?” This part of the conversation needs to be “crafted” because it’s about agreeing on the translation of the airy, yet shared, visions. So keep listening with curiosity. remember that a small action that has common support is better than a big chrome-plated plan that only half the group thinks is the best way forward. The good thing about starting to do something together is that you start to create a shared ‘past’ or pre-history that makes the next conversations much easier, and you will find that you can create broader and more concrete visions and actions together in the future.

How to use the model

As a thought model: Memorize the four ‘spaces’/phases and try to influence the process in conversations and meetings to move from the reactive, to the reflective, to the visionary and end up in the proactive space. It doesn’t have to be obvious to the others in the conversation or meeting that you’re doing it, but like a good dance, once you start asking curious questions, seeking consensus, etc. you’ll find that people will follow you. Even if it’s a short conversation, this model can easily form the basis for an otherwise trivial and small-talk-based exchange to take on more substance and perhaps even point towards a common action or intention.

As inspiration for a process design: If you’re creating a workshop or an agenda for an important meeting, you can use the four phases as an underlying structure. Ask questions that characterize the four spaces throughout the design and incorporate tools and exercises that support active listening, curiosity, shared visioning and action in your workshop program. You can choose whether you want it to be clear to the participants or if it should just be an underlying guiding model for your facilitation.

As a tool for difficult conversations: You can also print out the model and, together with the person(s) you’re having a conversation with, write on the model as you go, so you can all follow along and have a common starting point for the progression of the conversation. This can be especially useful if you’re having difficult or conflict-filled conversations or meetings.

Suggestions for a process design with the model at the center:

  1. Start by giving all participants the opportunity to share what’s on their mind for x number of minutes without interruption. Notes are taken and added to the poster.
  2. Once everyone has spoken, there is an opportunity to ask questions about what has been shared. Instruct participants to phrase their questions as “I’m curious about…” to insist on the open and unbiased format.
  3. Once all curious questions have been asked and answered, move on to the question, “Of all the things we’ve heard, what is it that we all want to achieve?” Write down the first thing that is said and invite exploration to uncover anything that can be agreed upon. And if there is no agreement, make the statement more general until there can be agreement on it. Finding the right level here can take some work.
  4. When you have one or more shared visions that are both energized and supported, enter the final space with the question: “What is the first thing we need to do now?” Often the answer here is to make a plan. So insist that you start making the plan now. And if that’s not possible, decide together what format the plan should be in. Find the smallest concrete action that can be done right now, and then agree on what and when the next actions should be.
  5. Make sure to write it all down on the poster along the way, and finish by going through the key points from each space. It can be quite an experience for participants to discover how much they have moved from disagreeing to agreeing.


Other tools and methods:

  • Speeddating your user while making personas

    When it's not possible for you to talk directly with your user, you might invite them on an imaginative date?

    Speeddating your user while making personas

  • Thing of the Future – A Speculative Warm-Up

    Go to the future to challenge your assumptions, biases and suspend your inner critical voice, by using this tool originally designed by Stuart Candy

    Thing of the Future – A Speculative Warm-Up

  • 5 Step Storyboarding
    – Use storytelling as prototype

    Test, test, test.. You can never test your ideas ioo early or too often. The 5 Step Storyboard is a quick way to communicate your idea and get feedback.

    5 Step Storyboarding
    – Use storytelling as prototype

  • Give shape to your idea – The Pre Concept

    Create Pre-Concepts for your early ideas to better assess what will work and what needs further development.

    Give shape to your idea – The Pre Concept