[from book part 6 – MY NEXT AI-SUMMIT]

When you google Appreciative Inquiry, most times – especially when you google for pictures – you experience a four-step process: Discover, Dream, Design and Destiny. Simply summarized:

  • Discover strong, helpful, positive experiences in the past.
  • Dream of a future in which those strong experiences happen all the time.
  • Design actions, starting now, that help us build that future.
  • Make it your Destiny to realize those actions.

The ideal AI summit takes four days to cover the four D’s. In my experience until today, the maximum time an organization could spend was two days. Most of the summits I was invited to co-design and co-facilitate, took place in one day. I always try to stretch the duration, but I often have to agree with practical restrictions. The AI summit event may take one or two days, but the entire process involving preparation and follow-ups can take a year.

In my experience, working in a country where ‘efficiency’ has priority, the summit event itself normally covers three D’s: Discover, Dream, Design. The Destiny phase, also called Delivery, has to be taken care of in the follow-up of the group meeting and its advisory to schedule this upfront.

Of course there is preparation, a large part of which regarding Definition; definition of the central question to be inquired into, definition of the target audience, definition of the support team and definition of the summit-scenario.

Sometimes a summit I was facilitating did not reach the Design phase. The Discovery took more time than we (I) thought, and so we ended up Dreaming. (Nothing wrong with sharing Dreams in an organizational context.) Sometimes Discovering is the only activity we do: AI interviews in pairs and sharing the strong stories in table groups. The result being a shared understanding, a collective feeling of what is already good and an experience of high quality communication.

So, out of how many D’s does a ‘proper’ AI summit consist? Please find out for yourself. If you can contribute to a constructive meeting, put in an AI element; it doesn’t always have to be a full summit, but perhaps this can develop into one.

Five/six D’s? Definition-Discovery-Dream-Design-Destiny/Delivery? In my experience of valuable prerequisites, let me suggest another D, or maybe two.

I think that – no matter how short our time frame is – we can ‘strip’ some of the D’s, but we should always give the people invited space to get acquainted. When you join a table group, you want to get to know the others and of course that can be done in an appreciative way. But let’s never skip this step and jump into the Discovery. So let me introduce an extra D for ‘Dating’.

If we regard the ‘essential AI interview in pairs’ as the dance, let’s not forget that the concept of ‘inviting someone to dance’. It takes the ability to be present, to address a person, to make eye contact, to smile, to approach and to make the beginning of a connection. Let me call this ‘Dating’ (so we can add it to the row of D’s). In my opinion an essential step in the Appreciative Inquiry process.

Please always include ‘Dating’ in your conference, whether it’s a business meeting or an AI summit. It might take some (extra) time, but you will gain from it during the rest of the meeting. You might even see some Dancing between the meeting members. Conversational dancing, that is.

My ideal AI-process? Define – Date – Dance – Discover – Dream – Design – Deliver/Destiny


The next time you are chairing or organizing a meeting, please allocate one hour for the attendants to properly meet each other and discuss the agenda before they start the formal discussion. Would you at least one try this once?


You’ve just read one of the 100 chapters of my book Appreciative Inquiries of the 3.0 Kind. Find out more (and a special pre-ordering offer) on www.appreciativeinquiries.eu