Louis Harris facilitates an Appreciative Inquiry session for a large group in Ohio.

Your Betterment Uses A Positive Approach to Team Building

Louis Harris started helping organizations with a positive approach to team building and strategic planning in 2013, when he started Your Betterment. Since then, YB has helped several clients improve their corporate culture and team dynamics. Most recently, YB has designed a team building program that also allows clients to plan.

Positive Approach

In YB’s formative years, Louis Harris received training in a positive approach to team building, Appreciative Inquiry, which focuses on strengths and assets. Previously, he had relied on deficit-based approaches that discover problems and design solutions to correct them. While problem-solving methods can be helpful, they often give energy to minor issues that get more prominence than necessary.

Louis Harris has witnessed deficit-based efforts turn an individual’s pet peeve into an organization-wide concern, making resolution of the challenge more difficult. He has also observed that plans that emerge may go nowhere. The positive-based approaches YB uses raise energy levels and create excitement. In doing so, they avoid each of these concerns.

Team Building

Appreciative Inquiry relies on the 4-D model for teambuilding: Discovery, Dream, Design, and Destiny

Discovery

YB’s team building program starts with one-on-one interviews, a brainstorming method pioneered by Appreciative Inquiry. In this process, participants ask each other questions focusing on strengths and successes. As a result, team members discover where the team has succeeded and how individual team members have made that success possible. A positive atmosphere emerges that lifts team members and grows enthusiasm.

Dream 

The larger team reviews the interview data and determines which positive attributes apply to the situation. At that point the team engages in a visioning exercise to imagine what the work space would look like if everything were in place to continue and build on the identified strengths.   

Design

Following visioning, the team designs statements that give substance to the visions identified in the Dream step. These statements are provocative because they stretch the concept of how success has been achieved. While similar to traditional mission statements, the provocative statements from a YB program reflect levels of commitment that traditional statements typically lack.

Destiny

By now, energy levels are electric, as team members realize that the positive things they’ve identified could become a reality. The team creates a roadmap listing the actions that each team member will take to fulfill the provocative statements. Team members become committed and excited. Roadmaps that result from a YB team building session fulfill themselves.

One of the best books on Appreciative Inquiry is by Diana Whitney and Amanda Trosten-Bloom, two mentors of mine: The Power of Appreciative Inquiry.