Have you noticed how often we define problems as what we do not want, or what is negative, painful, or needs to be fixed? Even the word “problem” is problematic: it immediately makes us think of what is imperfect.
What will happen if we focus on the positive instead?
Suppose, instead of asking …
- What do we want to avoid?
- What do we want to leave behind?
- How can we eliminate this?
- What needs to be fixed?
- How do we fix it?
- What do we want to improve?
- What went wrong?
- What must be removed?
- What is going well, and how do we increase it?
- What benefits are there in this situation?
- What is working, and how can we improve it?
- Where do we want to be, and how do we get there?
- What can we add?
Of course we also have to focus on what is wrong, what is negative and needs to be fixed. But framing a question differently—appreciative inquiry—can help us gain a different perspective.
Appreciative Inquiry as a technique was formulated in the mid-1980s by David Cooperrider at Case Western Reserve University. He suggested that rather than focusing on the pain, we look towards increasing the pleasure. The technique is also an effective way to identify opportunities and strengths for improvement.
Appreciative Inquiry involves four Ds: Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver. First we define the problem, then we decide where we want to go, how we can get there, and how to do it.
Let’s use these elements in a Tarot spread:
- What is going on?
- What is painful, or needs to be changed?
- Discover: What has gone right before? What is currently working well? What do you like about this? What are the strengths?
- Dream: Where do we want to go? What is the pleasure, and how can we increase it?
- Design: What do we need to get there? What can we add, increase, or strengthen?
- Deliver: What do we do? What is the next step?