Test Driven Blogging – using O.R.I.D. to keep my writing focused…

June 28, 2014

Recently I read a book called “The Art of Focused Conversations“.  This book gave me a lot of great advice on how to have better conversations, especially with people that I work with.

The book is split into 2 halves- the first half is the ‘what’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ about conversations; the second half is full of contextual examples of conversations.

While the examples in the second half of the book are extremely helpful, I found that the tool O.R.I.D. was exactly what had been missing my entire life. Okay, maybe not that awesome…but O.R.I.D. definitely ranks right up there with Reese Eggs. (And for those of you that know me, very few things are better in life than Reese Eggs.)

What is O.R.I.D.?

O.R.I.D. stands for – Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, and Decisional. These are the “4 levels” of conversations, according to the book.

If you start your conversation at level 1, or the Objective level, you are trying to hear the facts. At the Reflective level, your goal is to learn how people reacted to the facts. At the Interpretive level, now you are trying to understand the implications of the facts. And finally, at the Decisional level you are trying to elicit a resolution…based on the previous 3 levels.

This tool, O.R.I.D.,  helps by…

  • bringing out greater understanding and meaning
  • making sense of where someone was coming from, or why they felt a certain way
  • and focusing the conversation, versus letting it wander

Why should conversations be focused?

By having a more focused conversation, you can get more accomplished. By walking through all 4 levels of a conversation, you are able to pull out meanings that you otherwise would never have learned. And by understanding the implications of an event and how someone interpreted the event, you can then make better educated decisions.

This becomes even more powerful in a workplace environment, as we often need to make decisions as a group. Or worse, on behalf of a group.

Ultimately, without having these “focused conversations” we will likely…

  • not have a shared image/understanding
  • ignore emotion and imagination
  • miss opportunities for higher order thinking
  • make decisions without fully understanding the implications and reasons

How does this apply to my writing?

I am guilty of starting many draft blog posts, just to kill the idea in the near future. Many times, my post ideas wind up wandering and having very little value. (Or at least not the value I thought I would get out of it.)

Because I know that O.R.I.D. can help me elicit and facilitate better conversations, I bet that it can help keep my writing focused as well. By asking myself a question from each of the 4 levels, I am significantly better at knowing what I want to write about.

It is almost as if I am the facilitator for my own writing…by asking at least 1 question from each level, I write just enough to answer that question, and then move on to the next question.

Test Driven Blogging – it’s a thing!

By first writing down my questions from each of the 4 levels, it feels like I am practicing Test Driven Development (TDD)…but for blogging…so I guess it would b e Test Driven Blogging (TDB), right?

I am a big fan of “Test First Thinking”, so using TDB as an approach to focus my writing is a no-brainer.

Even this post was written using TDB…

  • Objective – What is O.R.I.D.?
  • Reflective – Why should conversations be focused?
  • Interpretive – How does this apply to my writing?
  • Decisional – Test Driven Blogging – it’s a thing!

Not all blog posts that I want to write will fit this O.R.I.D. model; however, I plan to use TDB for writing my blog posts whenever I can.