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[Synchronize] Powerful Question Pattern

Ravi Resck 4 de December de 2022

The Organic Organization's way of synchronizing is not just a meeting to resolve a list of tensions raised by the participants. This simple ritual can be enhanced with powerful questions asked by the facilitator that lead participants to take responsibility for their perceptions and act on it. In this text I describe the “Powerful Questions” pattern, widely used at the beginning of the Synchronize practice.

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A circle that is starting its practice of synchronizing in O2 and that still has habits or shadows related to the old power structure, whether it is the search for the appreciation of the group (consensus) or the former boss.


Some antipatterns tend to manifest themselves in the practice of the synchronization mode, which usually represent habits already acquired or an organizational culture incompatible with self-responsibility. THE "Everything belongs to everyone”Leads individuals to transfer their responsibility to the group, which is an abstract entity and unable to take action. The search for consensus or appreciation of everyone before taking action can be so frequent that it leads to an exponential increase in the list of tensions and therefore makes the circle meeting the only space to solve problems, even in a dysfunctional way.

Another anti-pattern involves personalization, that is, requests are addressed to people, not the roles present in the circle. This increases the frequency of heroic acts (when participants act out of their roles or break Meta-Agreements) and makes the circle blind to the organizational structure, leading everyone to an unconsciousness of the established agreements.

Finally, the antipattern “Perfect that is never done” (not yet described) may also be present, where the group is unable to take the next step and gets stuck in an endless discussion.


We need an effective way to synchronize, able to make people reflect on their habits and invoke the defined organizational structure. We need to stop attributing everything to everyone and take responsibility for our perceptions and tensions.


During synchronization mode, the facilitator can use one or more of the “Powerful Questions” to reveal any antipattern present or help the participant who is handling their tension to find a way.

To begin each item on the stress list, the facilitator may ask:

  1. What is your tension? What do you need?

Both questions focus on who is bringing the tension, seeking to make the person responsible and also reducing the chance of the participant manifesting the anti-pattern "Everything belongs to everyone“. The questions also invite the participant to express their individual needs and focus their perspective on what they see or perceive.

When the discussion reaches a point where it appears that the participants are trying to find a perfect solution to the tension, perhaps the group is expressing the anti-pattern “Perfect that is never done”. In this case, two questions can be valuable:

  1. What is the next step? What is the simplest project or action that can help you move forward?

These questions show the participant who brought the tension that it is not necessary to seek a perfect solution to the problem in question. What matters is to take a next step. Some participants believe that the circle meeting is the only "official" moment of interaction between the members of the circle, and so they end up wanting to discuss everything at that moment. This anti-pattern can be intensified by “Everything belongs to everyone“When in addition to looking for a perfect solution, individuals still need it to be approved or appreciated by the group.

To reveal the current structure and show participants that the role agreements, circles and restrictions already defined are important, the facilitator can use:

  1. Which role has the authority to decide this? Is there a role that takes care of that today?
  2. Is there an artifact or restriction that prevents its action?
  3. Are you waiting for someone to do this?

The focus in this case is to help the participant make a clear request. The first step is to check what the structure says about the order being placed. If there is already a role that takes care of that, just send the request to that role. If he is from another circle, the Inner Link can help. If there is no role, the facilitator can help the participant to ask for a heroic act or propose a responsibility or a new role in the adapt mode.

If everything indicates that it is the participant himself who has a responsible role, the facilitator can check what he or she wants to do:

  1. Given that you have the authority to do this, what do you need?
  2. Would you like to consult or listen to people's opinions?

These two final questions prevent the participant from transferring his responsibility to others. Even with the responsibility to do something, anyone can ask for help or advice. But this must be made explicit, to avoid that there is a projection of his or her dissatisfaction in the group.

In asking all these questions, the facilitator should seek to accommodate the tension and needs of the participant in question. It is important not to disqualify his or her perception, or worse, to discard the tension brought about by considering it “inadequate”. There are no inadequate tensions, only more or less effective strategies for dealing with them within O2.


Some triggers can be useful for the facilitator to notice when the group demands the use of one or the other powerful question. But beware! This is not a cake recipe. It is always necessary to analyze the context.

Powerful Questions:

  1. What is your tension? What do you need?
  2. What is the next step?
  3. Who has the authority to decide this?
  4. Is there an artifact or restriction that prevents its action?
  5. Are you waiting for someone to do this?
  6. Given that you have the authority to do this, what do you need?
  7. Would you like to consult or listen to people's opinions?


  1. When starting a voltage:THE
  2. When there is no clarity of the request that the participant is making:THE
  3. When the discussion goes on and there is no forwarding:B
  4. When former managers are mentioned:Ç
  5. When the participant uses the first person plural, as in the lines “wewe need to decide this ”or“wewe have to do something ”:Ç
  6. When the participant mentions the group and seeks consensus:Ç
  7. When the participant assumes that he has no autonomy:D
  8. When the participant seeks someone to do something that is not yet explicit:AND
  9. After verifying that the participant has the autonomy to perform something he was asking:F
  10. When the participant seeks consensus, despite having autonomy to execute the request:G

Resulting context

Using “Powerful Questions”, circles tend to become more aware of their agreements and habits. Referencing the organizational structure constantly also leads to the refinement of roles, circles and restrictions, and has the potential to reduce the number of heroic acts. The shadow of the previous power structure decreases due to the strengthening of the new agreements.


Some of these questions are derived from Holacracia's “Tactical Meeting” practice. Others - like the one that questions the next step - are highly influenced by David Allen's Getting Things Done method (The Art of Making It Happen, in Portuguese).

Known uses

This pattern is practiced in almost all organizations that begin their journey in the Organic Organization.

Article originally written by Davi Gabriel da Silva and publishedON HERE