Physicians Who Lead Change Must First Lead the “Dreaming”

by Francine Gaillour, MD

in Aligning With Values & Purpose,Innovation and Entrepreneurship,Transformational Leadership

Several years ago I became trained in the Appreciate Inquiry approach to large group change – it’s a method of leading organizations, large OR small, to collectively discover and map out the future they want to create. How does this method differ from others? It’s in the “dreaming” Read on …

by Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE, Executive and Career Coach for Physicians

As leader, do you get fatigued from leading groups that are focused on budgets, operations, or disciplinary actions. Wouldn’t you love to be in a meeting that was all fun and games and ALSO produced a strategic vision that left everyone energized?

That’s the point of Appreciative Inquiry, an approach for leading large group change.

Unlike traditional “strategic planning,” the Appreciate Inquiry process involves more people than the executive team and there is a greater emphasis on incorporating the power of “positive stories.”

During the AI process, we are guided to retell the stories of success about ourselves (individually and as a team), and then guided to capture the strengths and qualities we demonstrated so we can bring them forward again.

This is called “building on a positive core.”




Learn how to lead dreaming!

What participants of an Appreciate Inquiry process find most fun is the “dreaming” phase, where they can be free to think big, broad, creative, and limitless.

In this issue I share with you three ways to incorporate some AI “dreaming” techniques that experts Ludema, Whitney, Mohr, and Griffin describe in their classic book The Appreciative Inquiry Summit.

While this is not the whole Appreciative Inquiry process, I suggest you experiment with one of these “dreaming” approaches in your next team project kick-off or vision-development efforts?

Three Alternatives for How to Lead Dreaming

The authors suggest three alternatives for initiating and guiding a “dreaming” process that can lead to breakthroughs for the organization.

Creative Dreaming Opportunity Mapping Consensus Visioning

Purpose: To create a new set of possibilities that attract and inspire organization and action

Purpose: To mobilize action around a specific set of key opportunities Purpose: To come to consensus on a purpose, mission, or vision statement for the whole organization

Start the Process:


As a small group, envision the future by sharing each person’s dreams for the organization (using AI interview technique)

Start the Process:


As a whole group, create an opportunity map and form groups around the different opportunities.


As a small (opportunity) group, envision the future by sharing each person’s dreams for the specific opportunity.

Start the Process:


As a small group, envision the future by sharing each person’s dreams for the organization (using AI interview technique).

For all the three alternative approaches, after you start the process, continue with the next 3 steps:

2) Write a “dream statement” that captures the best of the collective dreams.

3) Prepare and perform a creative presentation of your dream as if it were happening now.

4) After all the presentations are complete, the large group enriches the dreams by sharing thoughts, highlights, excitements from the presentations.

*For Consensus Visions: After the large group discussion, include a process for coming to consensus on a single purpose, mission, or vision statement.(Adapted from The Appreciative Inquiry Summit)

How do you choose which Alternative to use?

Here are a few more tips that will help you select the appropriate alternative to experiment with: (Adapted from The Appreciative Inquiry Summit)

TIP: If you don’t need to come to consensus, but instead want to get your team thinking out of the box, use the Creative Dreaming alternative.

TIP: If you group does more “hands on” work and less of a need to connect to the big picture of the organization, the Opportunity Mapping approach is probably preferable.

TIP: Only if your organization has a specific need to draft a common vision will you use the Consensus Visioning, as this tends to narrow possibilities, rather than open them up, which is the whole purpose of Appreciate Inquiry.

Will be consider incorporating one of these methods in your leadership process in the near future? Please let me know and I’ll suggest some more reading.

Also, email me and tell me whether this has “sparked” some creative dreaming about how you can lead your team.

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