Creating an inspring vision for the future

 Name educator: Dirk De Vilder

Name partner organisation: Outward Bound Belgium


Description of the course: 2 day team development session

Aim of testing project:

how do we function a as a team , how do I function in this team

  • build an inspring vision on how to function as a team
  • discuss relations between people
  • how can we work toward trust and respect
  • get energy for change

Date(s) of the testing project: 2 days in November ______

Target group:_team of an NGO _____              

Number of participants:_12____

Nationality of the participants:_Belgian___________________

Sex of the participants: females­­­­­­­­­­_7_____  man­­­__5____

Age of the participants:_22_____ to__58____

Amount of meetings with the learners:_2 days _____

A Number of people reflecting:   Solo (1 person) X  Small group

(< 20 people)


 Large group

(> 20 people)


B The way(s) of sharing: We mainly worked with group sharing. We worked with stories (discover part of AI),group debriefs after the outdoor activities, drawings and pictures ( dreampart of AI)
Verbal: X
Non-verbal: X  Pictures /

X  drawings

  Text   Em­bodied  sculpture


 Other forms of expression


Digital:   Padlet


  Social media   Digital diary


C Place of reflection (where) x  Indoors


X  Outdoors   On-line


D. Steps taken to implement

How did you organize your testing project (or to put it differently: as this is a testing project for experimenting, what will be different comparing to the same course you run the previous time)?

Before the course start I had several meetings with the director of the organization. He felt bit uncomfortable with the session because there was some anxiety, mistrust, conflicts because of the changes the organization has gone through. Therefore it was important to not dig to much in the problem soup since that was going on for a while. We choose to work with a combination of Appreciative inquiry to start with an appreciative head, to use outdoor activities to explore the interactions between the team members and to use the operating manuals to give the pax the possibility to explain their needs and how they like to function in the team and get some feedback on their behavior.

We worked with :

Outdoor activities to create a learning and reflective environment The outdoor activities  literally bring the team in closer contact with each other, break the ice and reveal the team’s typical ways of interacting, communicating, taking decisions, problem-solving… in order to let the team’s spontaneous interactions emerge most clearly.   These interactions  were  explored in debriefs following each task, where team members have the opportunity to share their experiences with each other.  These debriefs will enhance the team’s awareness of their behavior and the consequences this has – both in terms of task and relationships.

– personal operating manuals to create an open and personal atmosphere for feedback and reflection

– appreciative inquiry to create a inspiring vision for the future

Appreciative inquiry (AI) is a model for analysis, decision-making and the creation of strategic change, particularly within companies and other organizations. It was developed by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva. They felt that the overuse of “problem solving” as a model often held back analysis and understanding, focusing on problems and limiting discussion of new organizational models.[1]

The following table comes from the Cooperrider and Srivastva (1987) article and is used to describe some of the distinctions between AI and approaches to organizational development not based on what they call positive potential:[17]

Problem Solving Appreciative inquiry
Felt need, identification of problem(s) Appreciating—valuing “the best of what is”
Analysis of Causes Envisioning what might be
Analysis of possible solutions Engaging in dialogue about what should be
Action Planning (treatment) Innovating what will be

Appreciative inquiry attempts to use ways of asking questions and envisioning the future in order to foster positive relationships and build on the present potential of a given person, organization or situation. The most common model utilizes a cycle of four processes, which focus on what it calls:

  1. DISCOVER: The identification of organizational processes that work well.
  2. DREAM: The envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.
  3. DESIGN: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well.
  4. DESTINY (or DEPLOY): The implementation (execution) of the proposed design.[18]

The aim is to build – or rebuild – organizations around what works, rather than trying to fix what doesn’t. AI practitioners try to convey this approach as the opposite of problem solving.

E. Your assessment of the outcome

In general, how do you look at the results of your testing project?

Even with some resistance from some teammembers we managed to co-create a open, honest atmosphere whereby partcipants were able to discuss and to reflect on their functioning and the team functioning. People got and gave open and honest feedback and created a inspiring development plan for themselves ( with follow up by a buddy). The AI method made people reflect on and discuss changes in the teamfunctiononing. Working with drawings made it more inspiring.

From the start of the session paticpants were co-creating a reflective process where I onlyin the beginning had to facilitate the reflections. The structure of the stories helped to reflect on what they appreciated in the team and create a positive energy for exploring, experimenting , analyzing and dreaming. My role was to give structure to the session, introduce the activities facilitate the debriegs and feedback sessions. The reflection on theor vision was done in smal groups without me.

F  Connecting with principles: which principle(s) were you taking into consideration mostly when facilitating reflection with learners? Please add 2 sentences about how you were translating the principle into practice. For more information: see postings on principles.



Raising awareness within learners to ‘own’ their learning in personally meaningful way

From the beginning we made the structure and the objectives very clear. That created already a safe atmosphere. We started with stories on what works.

‘describe the best moment you had in the team in the last year? Why was this the best moment why was it so powerful. Who was there, etc…. Participants interviewed

each other to get a clear idea and to have the story visual? This is the power of the inquiry. This is where the energy for change started. Pax. Were deeply talking and discussing, what created a deep reflection and a positive atmosphere. After the interviews we shared the essence of the stories and build up the DNA of the team success. This created awareness on what works and resistance was replaced by openness and energy. Pax. became aware that this could work, that it could be meaningful for themselves and for the team.

The outdoor activities and the debrief afterwards helped to explore the interaction within the team. Pax. became aware what was going on , what worked and what they want to change in the way they work together. The fact that they experienced that things can be done different made it again personally meaningful. This created energy for creating an inspiring vision on how they would like to work together I the future, people were hopeful!!


Sharing the operating manuals and get feedback also was experienced very meaningful … some misunderstandings were cleared out, assumptions were checked and conflicts discussed.



Developing a relationship between educator and learners based on trust, openness, empathy, honesty, dialogue and feedback





Co-creating the reflective process

By giving pax a structure and let them working alone , in duo’s and small groups with a clear task they were not depending on my ‘smart’ questions to reflect. I only was there to support, appreciate, confront, be curious… After the session they told me that my presence gave them a feeling of safety. I was the safe net if things became difficult. Even during the feedback after the operating manual I had only to be there. They were asking each other questions, were giving feedback…. I sometimes had to keep an eye on the time and help them to focus and not to get lost in details and history.

Also during the debriefs after the outdoor activities I asked simple questions that gave them the opportunity to react intuitive ex. Finger shoot on their satisfaction with the process of co-operation during the activity. They took responsibility to discuss and to confront each other. I helped them to structure and not get lost in details of what happened two years ago and to stay in the here and now.


Managing the steering paradox of intrinsic learning processes
Creating the right reflective attention of learners
Slowing down and value moments of not-knowing,
Deepening your questions progressively
Recalling that reflection can never be imposed, only kindly invited.
Always considering reflection as a broad and deepening process, that should be holistic.
Being careful how to asses reflection (or not at all)