Bringing Conversation to a Point Using ORID

We’ve all been in meetings that wandered around topics without ever really landing on a defined point or decision. This leaves many people frustrated that there isn’t closure, and when the meeting is over, nobody is sure what they should take from that meeting. A straightforward technique to learn, though difficult to master, is ORID.


The first step in ORID stands for Observation. This step is all about using our physical senses to collect information. So, in a meeting, we ask questions like this:

  • What did you see?
  • What did you hear?
  • What did you notice?

All of this is grounded in our senses and not associated with any particular meaning behind it. We do this because people pay attention to different things, so by asking everyone to share this level of observational data, everyone is working on the same physical data set.


The second step is to take that observational data and have people think back on those things. This step is where people begin to attach meaning to what they’ve observed so far. In this step, we ask questions like:

  • What stood out to you?
  • What surprised you?
  • What is challenging?

While these questions don’t take the meaning very far, they ask the group to sift through information and make early categories for later meaning.

This step will take a little longer than the first, and some will be surprised at what other people make of things. When facilitating this, it isn’t about right or wrong, but rather how people reflect on information. So if a debate begins, move the conversation not to if it is surprising, but rather, what makes it surprising for one and not for the other.


Now, this step is the magic step if it works well. After the group reflects on the information, we ask questions to attach significant meaning—the more profound the insight, the stronger the conclusion.

In this step, we ask questions like:

  • What do you think this means?
  • What is this leading you toward?

This step tends to take about as long as the reflection step, but it will typically be filled with more silence as people mentally do the work of bringing everything into an insightful conclusion.

Don’t hurry through this step, and again, multiple insights are possible. Even conflicting ones tend to emerge, and that is fine.


The final step takes the group’s insights and asks them to turn that into an action or decision. The great thing here is that the process up until now has brought the entire group from a pile of sensory information and focused its meaning to the point where now a salient conclusion is possible.

In this step, we ask questions like:

  • What can we try?
  • What would be a good experiment?
  • What is the next step?
  • What are we leaving with?

Now, as with other steps, it is possible for multiple answers, and depending on the meeting, that may or may not be desirable. If you need to conclude with a singular decision, introduce a voting activity to cull the others.

Better Meetings Are Closer Than You Think

This little process takes as little as 15 minutes, and what it provides is clarity built around insights from shared data. Instead of leaving meetings, each with their isolated understanding, people leave with shared data, insight, and conclusions. And while it takes practice to master this technique, it starts with asking questions.