The Other AI – Appreciative Inquiry – Part 2

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In our last post, we began our journey into the other AI – Appreciative Inquiry.

If you recall, Appreciative Inquiry is the method of solving problems with a strengths-based approach, which employs a 4D Cycle – Discover, Dream, Design, and Destiny.

And if you also recall, I took the liberty of changing the last phase from Destiny to Dare, because it is a more active approach to solving problems and achieving the results we seek.

In the previous episode, we explored the advantages and values of Discovery and the positive impact it has on mindset and creative solution seeking.

(If you haven’t already read it, I encourage you to go back to the previous blog post – The Other AI-Part 1 and then come back here to complete the session.)

Today we will complete the 4D Cycle by diving deeper into the Dream, Design, and Dare phases.

So, with everything set in a positive mindset, let’s move into the Dream Phase.

And, boy, are we going to dream!

This phase takes what we’ve just discovered and explores deeply what might be. This phase also prepares us for the Design phase, so buckle up for a series of inquiries.

It’s time to imagine our most wonderful outcome possible. What can we envision? What can we hope for? What can we see as our most desirable destination?

While these questions are a good start, let’s ensure that we create a detailed, well-rounded vision of what our dream scenario could look like. And remember, it’s important to give careful thought to team dynamics as well as the desired outcome.

To begin a well-balanced exploration, consider these questions.

  • What would a perfect (or at least much improved) outcome look like?
  • What would an improved team look like?
  • What could we achieve if we worked better together?

Now, there’s a question you don’t hear very often. Let me ask it again: What could we achieve if we worked better together?

Think about the way this question is offered. It is not seeking to find fault or blame anyone for weakness or inability. It is inviting you to consider what might be possible if we had better professional and personal relationships across the team.

That is the heart of achieving great outcomes.

If you want to really push your thinking forward, consider this provocative question.

  • When we look back at our team’s accomplishments over the next ten years, what gives us the greatest sense of pride, meaning, or fulfillment?

This question puts us ten years in the future and asks that we begin the appreciative inquiry once again. Talk about a powerful change process move. You can’t get much better than that.

Remember I said there would be a series of inquiries in the Dream phase? Here are two more questions to prepare for the Design phase.

  • How do we envision our roles and responsibilities in this ideal future?
  • What current values and principles will guide our actions toward our vision?

Wow, that was a lot of dreaming! Now it’s time to wake up and start designing your dream outcome.

Understand this phase can take a lot of time to develop and get down on paper, because it is so detail oriented and tactic heavy. The good news is that you’ve already done some of the heavy lifting by discovering past strengths, skills, and behaviors that have served you well in the past and dreaming about what roles and responsibilities could be used in the future.

Be sure to go slow in this Design phase to ensure a solid project plan. Let’s pick up where we left off and design the ideal path. Here are some questions to move from Dream to Design.

  • What past experiences in our team’s history have led to extraordinary outcomes?
  • What steps could we take to move toward this ideal (DREAM) outcome?
  • What strengths can we leverage to make this happen?
  • What specific goals and objectives will steer our team toward success?
  • What else?

This last question is a beauty. It is so simple but so powerful. This simple two-word inquiry of “What else?” invites blue ocean thinking, allowing the receiver to go anywhere they wish. And usually, even when we think all ideas have been exhausted, we can get at least one more great insight just by asking,

“What else?”

With all our ideas brought to the fore, it is time to muster our courage and commit to do something brave.

The final phase of the Appreciative Inquiry 4D Cycle is to Dare. And here are the questions.

  • What do we dare to do that will propel us toward improvement, advancement, or achievement?
  • What challenging action could we take to achieve our desired dream?
  • What inspiring mindset could we possess to keep our focus on this dream?
  • And what brave actions are we willing to take to serve and support our team?

These are not easy questions to answer. They require reflection, fortitude, and the strength to let yourself be vulnerable with and in front of your team.

So how will you take time to Dream about what is possible and what might be? How will you Design the ideal path to achieving that Dream? And how will you find the courage to Dare to do the uncomfortable and let yourself be vulnerable in order to realize your Dream?

Using Appreciative Inquiry is a powerful tool you can use for change management, team building, and culture development. But its uses are not limited just to the workplace.

Because I’m your coach, and I love finding ways to recycle ideas, I’ve got one more shortcut for you.

Though work occupies many hours of our waking lives (and sometimes sneaks into our dreams, or should I call them nightmares?), we are more than employees or leaders at work. We must also prepare for changes in ourselves and the special people we call friends and family.

With this holistic mindset, I offer a method of practicality that you can use, not only in the workplace, but in your relationships and even with yourself.

Each of these aspects of life are distinct and interweaving.

Appreciative Inquiry can be used every time you’re approaching a change in life.

If you’re looking to improve your marriage, your relationship with your partner, your parents, or your children, Appreciative Inquiry can facilitate positive outcomes.

If you’re looking to improve your health and well-being, your mindset towards work and friendships, or even becoming more of the person you really want to be, Appreciative Inquiry can be the right tool to get you there.

If you’d like more information on this and a worksheet with specific questions and approaches, please email me at and I will be happy to send it to you.

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