Andy Capaloff
April 13, 2014

The Power of Question Circles and Why You Need Them [Infographic]

What is a Question Circle?

In an age where so many new businesses flood each new niche to an extent far greater than the market can possibly sustain, it is more important than ever to stand out from the crowd in a unique manner.  I believe Question Circles provide one such means of achieving distinctiveness.

The concept of circles is far from new.  There are Book Circles and Knitting Circles and yes, a couple of different concepts for Question Circles ( and were returned by my google search), but each is far more structured than I would prefer.

I have previously broached this concept in the articles and where I suggestednot enough ideas have been fielded, questions asked or answers questioned

Why a circle?  

A circle, for me, signifies something without hierarchy.  It is self-contained but whatever its size, no part of it stands out from another.

Question circles would be made up of a fluid number of people from different disciplines and different backgrounds.  They would be a means of eliminating, or at least drastically reducing, the chances of peers with the same learning and experience, debating a topic from the same basic presumptions, where even the brave and innovative amongst them are still bound by the laws governing their chosen field.

Done right, Question Circles will help break an idea free from the invisible shackles that each of us, and therefore each of our ideas, is unwittingly bound by.

Question Circles(1)

Here are the ‘Actors’ and their roles:

  • You: For this to be successful, you may supply the initial discussion start point, but you can have no ego around the direction the discussion takes.  All questions are initially aimed towards your original idea
  • The Facilitator: The person filling this function knows the least about the topic(s) for discussion but is there to keep the discussion honest and on track
  • Peer: Someone with similar experience to you, either from inside or outside of your organisation – perhaps one of each
  • SBDB (Same Business, Different Background): Someone from a different area of your business. The person or people fulfilling this role have important knowledge of aspects of your business that you aren’t familiar with
  • External Expertise: Like it or not, this is an essential role, as this person (or these people), coming from an entirely different field, will not be bound by the prevailing wisdom in your field
  • A possible 6th role could be Same Background, Different Business, the value of which can be ascertained from the title


The most important thing to remember is that everyone is equal.

The second most important thing to remember is that you can change the roles and participants from one circle to the next.

Each meeting will start with the basic premise.  It is certainly up to ‘you’, the convener, to communicate this to other circle members.

Discovery and Clarity

All are there to ask questions

All questions may be questioned

All answers may be further questioned

This format, borrowed from various Corporate Quality Initiatives, is a brainstorming Think Tank that exposes each participant to new ideas and ultimately, moves a notion from well-considered concept to viable, working proposition.

Unlike other Think Tanks, the idea here is that asking questions of others spurs new thinking in those people.  Ideally, for each answer participants give to a question, they will put forward a question of their own and/or inspire further questions from others.

At the end of a one-hour session, the subject will have been examined from multiple angles, some of which could not have been anticipated.  What happens next is entirely up to you!


Attribution: The featured image for this piece is courtesy of:

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Andy Capaloff

Andy Capaloff is the COO of Curatti. Prior to moving into the world of Content Marketing, Social Media Management and the day-to-day running of a Digital Marketing company, Andy spent over 3 decades in various aspects of IT. It is here that he honed his writing and technical skills, and his ability to ask uncommon questions.