This figure offers us a detailed description of how two or more people can explore and combine to produce a shared Structure of Meaning. Almost always this enables the whole group to develop insights which were not present in any of the individual members.
One example is the way in which Laurie used it with a group of forty students, who, gradually negotiated a increasingly shared understanding of the idea of creativity. They worked in three’s and then combined into nine’s and finally into two groups who then negotiated an agreement between them. They did this before reading the literature.
Instead of the usual (and expected) regurgitation of the book(s), we found that they understood the content much more thoroughly and also were much more critical of what they had been reading.
We have found that any number of people up to say 8 or 10 who have shared the same experience can each produce their own structure of meaning and by various methods such as producing cards to explain the items in their structure they can gradually exchange meanings with each other until they move towards a much more shared understanding of the event or situation which they are negotiating about.
In practice this has been used by us and our post graduate students with supervisors in the Post Office who gradually came to a shared view of a job which they each supervised on different shifts. This not only enabled them to reach a shared view, but in doing so, their whole performance in their domain is significantly improved. We have used this with various groups including members of an Olympic team, staff of various Mexican Universities and various groups of people who have attended the same business meeting.
In almost every case the participants were taken aback by the insights gained by the group and by individual members.