Alexis Monville (en)

Crossed-interviews with Appreciative Inquiry

In a previous post, I described a great approach to get people to get to know each other a little bit more thanks to a fantastic one-on-one format. Try it, you will see yourself, it is really fantastic!

Another approach to get people to know each other is to use Appreciative Inquiry.

I used nearly the same three questions in different contexts: during the Wednesday breakfast for new employees in a fast-growing company, and also as an ice-breaker for meetings where people don’t know
each other.

The mechanics are simple and highly effective. You ask people
to form pairs. Their goal is to interview each other, asking three

  • Tell a story that you consider being a success,
  • Without being humble, describe the talents and skills you used to make it a success,
  • Describe your three concrete wishes for the future of the company.

You give them a limited time, like 15 minutes, to do the two interviews. You probably need to remind them that the time is ticking and be flexible with the timing. As you walk around in the room, people ask you clarification questions, such as “Is it limited to professional life?” (The answer is: “No, of course, you can share non-professional experiences.“)

People usually enjoy that session and ask for more time to interview others in the room. You don’t need to give them that time. Just mention that they will have breaks, lunch, and dinner or, in short, other opportunities when they can interview each other.

If you are ready to invest a little bit more time, you can add value to the exercise by asking each pair to present briefly the talents and wishes of each other. It is really powerful when each writes talents and wishes on sticky notes (one per sticky note) so at the end of the presentation, you have one sheet of flip-chart representing the talents of the group and another with all the wishes of the group.

By starting the conversation there the room is full of energy, confidence, and optimism, and you are ready to have a productive meeting.

After one meeting I facilitated, I received a thank you note from one of the participants explaining that he enjoyed the meeting and the activities because “it created the kind of positive energy that gets things done.”

We are back to the mindset conversation I cover in the first chapter of Changing Your Team From The Inside. Shifting our mindset is essential to be able to interact effectively with others. Helping them to shift their mindset is key to effective collaboration.

Try it and let me know how it goes! I will use it again next week, in a distributed setting this time as we cannot be face to face.

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels