Think of the successes your business has experienced! Now imagine what a successful future looks like!
Hold those thoughts in your mind and let me explain how this success and this vision can design the future.
In corporate training terms, we call this contemporary approach an ‘appreciative inquiry’.
Very simply, it is an opportunity to engage your team however large or small in a structured conversation to create your company’s future.
Sound like fun? It is! And it could be the best thing you ever do for your business.
I have been involved in corporate training, leadership coaching and team development for well over a decade, and I can say that it is one of the most powerful, innovative yet simple processes that a company can undertake for future planning.
It is particularly valuable if you’re embarking on change management or just wish to explore how to maximise your business and your people.
You know how a universal model for marketing is based on 4Ps (product, place, price, promotion), well a universal model for appreciative inquiry is based on 4Ds.
These are Discover, Dream, Design and Destiny!
To do the best I can to summarise this is one sentence, these 4Ds allow you to identify what is successful in your business, what future success in your business looks like to your team, and how to apply these insights to start creating the future.
As the name ‘appreciative inquiry’ suggests, this approach is a collective inquiry into what you and your team appreciate and want to appreciate about the company.
I use the word ‘collective’ as it provides the opportunity to involve your company team in reinventing or evolving the business.
So let’s have a look at the process of the 4Ds…
The first part of our appreciative inquiry is to discover what is and has been successful in the business.
During this phase, your team will identify and dig into the situations when the business was performing at its best and the processes that are working well.
The discovery phase then moves smoothly into a dreaming phase for the team to discuss what a successful future looks like for the business and what processes support this.
This involves a strategic line of questioning to compile a desired picture of the future for the business that is empowering and inspiring for your team.
The designing phase is all about merging the insights from the discovery and dreaming phases.
It is creating a future using the learnings from current and past successes and how the team envision a successful future including what processes should be implemented.
The destiny phase looks at the implementation of the changes from the design phase and then how future success can be monitored and subsequently evaluated.
So that is a simple overview of the 4Ds of appreciative inquiry.
It is a great social technology to involve your team in creating the future for your business by building upon the best of your current culture.
It is also a great model to apply for the facilitation of self-driven change by your team.
Where this approach does differ from some traditional methodology is its focus on what is working well and what is possible rather than on problems or dysfunctions.
Some research suggests that excess focus on solving problems can actually cause them to get worse.
When your team is encouraged and empowered to identify and value the best features of the business, the business can make some significant improvements.
Ultimately appreciative inquiry will enable your team to contribute to the reinvention, change or growth of the company. The direction is only limited by your team’s imagination, discussion and agreement.
Anita Kropacsy is Corporate Training Manager for Corporate Challenge Events – a specialist in the facilitation of Appreciative Inquiry for businesses in New Zealand and Australia.