Hi, I’m Paul Krismer with the Happiness Experts Company. So many people dread attending meetings. They can drain the life out of you. Isn’t another name for agenda, list of problems? Have you attended business meetings that are made up of one negative topic after another, where you leave the meeting just exhausted and discouraged? In this post, I will show you how to have the opposite kind of meeting where people are energized and arrive at real solutions to the challenges the business faces.

In fact, what I’m going to show you can transform an organization from mediocre to awesome. And hey, this same model can be used with any group, even couples and families. ♪ [music] ♪As a coach, public speaker, and bestselling author, I teach topics just like this one all around the world.

So stay tuned and I’ll give you practical tools that you can use to make both yourself and those around you both happier and more successful. There is a formal business improvement methodology called Appreciative Inquiry and it kicks butt over almost any other problem-solving technique. We have all experienced the usual approach where we start a conversation about what we don’t want.

For example, “We’re getting so many angry complaints from inconvenienced customers.So today, people, we must solve the problem with our passengers’ luggage going missing 3.2% of the time.” This is a totally legitimate problem, totally fair. But what’s the next question we hear? “People, what are we going to do about it?We need answers now.”

And now how does the conversation go from here? People pin blame on others. There’s division. People look to analyze the problems and then they shotgun spray off various solutions and leaders pronounce from on high what should happen. This sometimes works but just as often, it does not work and the process sucks.

So, in contrast, let’s look at the Appreciative Inquiry model. In Appreciative Inquiry, you begin by asking for what you want, not what you don’t want. “Today’s meeting is about ensuring we get our passengers’ luggage to arrive on schedule along with the passengers.”

Now, this sets a modestly more positive tone to the whole meeting, doesn’t it? In this model, we want to bring out a different kind of discussion. We want what’s working well with good questions, lots of juicy questions. We want people to take ownership and collaborate. And we want an open, everyone’s welcome to contribute, kind of conversation. And lastly, we want to create a shared vision of what could be.

There are 4Ds to the Appreciative Inquiry model: Discovery, Dream, Design, and Destiny. Before you get into the model, you want to define the problem you’re trying to solve.

Even here, you can put a mind-expanding context to the problem. Instead of looking narrowly at how to get a higher percentage of luggage to arrive with the passengers who own the luggage, ask what is the ideal arrival experience for our passengers? Now that we have a question that immediately energizes a team, questions are the key.

In the Discovery phase, you facilitate a deep conversation about what is working. What strengths does your team have that apply to the context? What is your inventory of assets, both in terms of people and physical assets? And what learning comes from successful arrivals? What does it look like? Who has to do what for it to be awesome? In the Dream phase, you are looking for an ideal outcome.

Here, you build on existing successes to see even greater success. You dwell on exceptional outcomes, going from the good things identified in the Discovery phase to now imagining excellence in the longer term. This phase dreams really big. It creates a shared aspirational vision. You can happily acknowledge that some of what is being said is not perhaps practical in the short term, but a grand vision is permitted in this expansive conversation.

In the Design phase, you try to bring together the strengths and assets identified in the Discovery phase with the creativity and hopefulness of the Dream phase. You invite provocative discussion about what is doable when your team in at its best. What is practical yet inspirational. Here, we begin looking at strategy, business processes, collaboration between teams, and we drive the vision to a complete planning exercise.

Here, we’ve created a dream outcome that has real potential. Now, the Destiny phase is the hardest part of the model to implement. Here is where leaders can’t help sometimes but start using their own top-down directives to make things happen. But truly great organizational change allows employees to take action autonomously.

Anyone who thinks they can see all the detail required to make something happen is undoubtedly seeing too small. Invite people to see their own future. Let people step up to the plate with their contributions and their powerful desire to collaborate. With a clear enough vision, your team will find its way to the outcome. Run pilots, take risks, and happily revise again and again using a similar Appreciative Inquiry 4D model.

This model brings out creativity and commitment like nothing else. It doesn’t attempt to merely bureaucratically solve problems. Instead, it grows your organization to a better version of itself. It furthers your core mission. In the description below, there’s a link to the 4D Appreciative Inquiry infographic that I talked about earlier.

This is a great resource for creating powerful meetings. It’s my life’s mission to help the world be a bit happier so please like and share this post and you will make the world happier too. And if you’d like to see more of this kind of content, please subscribe to my newsletter.


Until next time, I’m your happiness expert,

Paul Krismer.