“The Circles Method” framework

The Circles Method

The Circles Method is the framework of Product management best practices used by Google when interviewing potential product managers. It is quite a popular framework known for its effectivity and has been featured in the Business Insider. It is important to note that this method is useful for helping candidates to answer one particular type of question and that is a product design question.

The Circles framework is put together so that you can use mental cues to structure your response to a product design question. Knowing the backbone of the framework ensures that once you get that product design question you will know which elements to include in your answer no matter what the product is. So what is the Circles method and what does it even mean? “CIRCLES” is an acronym to help you to remember all the elements that your answer needs to have.

C – Comprehend the who, what, why, how of the situation

I – Identify customer (who are they, what are their goals, what is their personality like… behaviors and demographics)

R – Report customer needs from their standpoint (what they want and why they want it

C – Cut through prioritization (Review the needs of the customer and narrow them down to one solution)

L – List solutions (at least three)

E – Evaluate tradeoffs (be analytical and objective as well as thoughtful)

S – Summarize your recommendation (Recap, the what and the why as well as how your recommendation measures up to alternatives)

Why Use the Circles Method?

We tend to not communicate in a structured manner and instead speak in a manner that may be harder to understand and could also be seen as less persuasive. The CIRCLES method allows you a framework that will help you to divide your thinking into different categories and helps you to provide a better answer to questions. The type of answer that covers all the important variables and covers them in a sequential manner.

It can be easy to forget that this is a framework that should provide you with reminders and mental cues to help you completely answer a question and not just a script to follow. You have to ensure that you are really thinking about the question and ensure you don’t include anything that is not relevant to your specific product design question or scenario that you are presented with.

Who Can Benefit from the Circles Method?

The Circles method can be very helpful for those who struggle to break down things in their mind prior to presenting them. For those persons, this framework provides you with a step by step process as to how to get the information out of your head in an organized manner which will make better sense to the people listening to you. Having a whiteboard or paper chart can help you to visualize your thoughts, as well as the visuals, can also help your audience to understand your theories and statements better.
The Circles method is also a great framework for those who sometimes get ahead of themselves, providing a solution before really thinking through the problem and all the stakeholders involved.

The Circles method is a good choice to help you to get your thought process out in a detailed and articulate answer. As an educated professional, it is easy to come up with concepts but sometimes getting them out there is where the trouble lies. You want to get your concepts out so your peers can understand your aims and also understand how your concept will work to build the product that will be the solution to the user’s problem. This is where the CIRCLES method can help you shine by laying out your solution in a clear and sequential manner.