The Process Enneagram as a Conversation Process

By Steve Zuieback · Posted Saturday, May 4, 2013

This blog is part of the continuing series of articles on the Process Enneagram and on powerful facilitation processes. The Process Enneagram has been around for probably 3500 years and has been adapted by Richard Knowles in the form described in this blog. 

The Process Enneagram  can be used as a conversation process, a planning journey map, a facilitation process selection tool, a diagnostic tool and as a way of understanding organizational systems. It is obviously very powerful if it can be sued for all of these applications!

Two Right Answers

Traditional Approach

Two different approaches or sequences of questions can be considered for the Process Enneagram when used as a conversation process. The first sequence of questions is one often advocated by Dick Knowles. In this sequence you start by exploring the current state (identity) of the issue, followed by a conversation about desired relationships among the team (Relationships), and then a discussion about the nature and quality of information (information). After exploring the triangle, the facilitator would then follow the sequence of arrows:

Intentions------->Principles--------->Tensions-------->Strategies---------->Work ------->Deep Learning


Another Right Answer

In my experience, I start with the current identity around the issue or team and then I move to Intentions – what you want to create. From there I move to either Tensions or Principles depending on the level of functionality of the team. In high functioning teams, I will go to principles first. In less functional teams, I go to Tensions before exploring Principles. I find that it is often necessary to explore the deeper patterns or causes that restrain a team or organization before talking about how they want to operate (be) together. Holding deep conversation about Tensions before principles often provides much greater insight into the necessary agreements that will be needed to break the tensions.

After completing the sequence of:

Current State ----->Intentions ------>Tensions -------->Principles

I will move a group to talk about Strategies---------->Work and then Deep Learning. You may notice that I don’t normally address either Relationships or Information directly. The reason is that they are so important that I want people to experience the development of shared information and experience the kind of positive relationships that will be necessary to their success rather than just talk about them. This is best accomplished by selecting the right facilitation process that achieves both the rational and experiential or social outcomes that are required for each particular team. For more about selecting the right process, click here.

Posted In:

comments powered by Disqus