4 D's Methodology


The following outlines the four phases of the model:

1. Discover

People talk to one another, usually via structured interviews, to discover the times when the organisation is at its best. These stories are told as richly as possible and from them people start to discover the ‘positive core’ of the organisation, what gives life to it when it is at its best. People appreciate themselves and their colleagues and significant transformations begin to occur.

2. Dream

The dream phase is often run as a large group conference where a cross-section of the organisation is encouraged to imagine and co-create the future. They are encouraged to envision the organisation as if the peak moments discovered in the ‘discover’ phase were the norm rather than the exception. “What would things be like if…?” Working in small groups, they try to put as much ‘flesh’ as possible on their visions as possible. These are then creatively presented to the rest of the group and worked on further.

3. Design

In the early days of Appreciative Inquiry the design phase was delegated to a small team which was empowered to go away and design ways of creating the organisation dreamed in the dream conference(s). Although this still happens, Gervase Busche has found that transformational change is more likely to occur if the design phase is undertaken by as wide a group as possible. In this collaborative design approach the group first derive a design possibilities map, which contains, in three concentric circles, the dream for the organisation, the key relationships which have an impact on the dream, and key organisational design elements that will be needed to deliver the dream.  

In small groups participants then ‘sign up’ to explore particular design elements which they have energy for and these groups craft ‘provocative propositions’ which challenge the organisation to adopt a new and healthier future. These are shared with the large group and further refined.

4. Destiny

The final phase is to deliver the dream and the new design. Because the term ‘deliver’ has implications of closure, many AI workers prefer the term ‘Destiny’ which continues the future-facing theme. Whichever term is chosen, the final phase is one of experimentation and improvisation, sometimes described as ‘organisational jazz’. Small implementation teams will be formed to follow up on the design elements and to continue the appreciative process. The Destiny phase may itself contain more small-scale Appreciative Inquiries into specific aspects of organisational life.


"The Leader/Manager model is very, very good and has benefits well beyond the obvious and advertised purpose. Coachees really value its ‘face validity', its power and ease of use..."

Eddie Paterson FAIM, internal executive coach, telecommunications company, Australia.

“All team members who participated found it easy and commented how well it worked. The process of customising was seamless and perfect. Feedback from all team members has been positive and extremely useful for their future development plans. I have recommended the department continues running the 360 survey..."

Victoria Elgott, HR Project Manager of a major Australian bank

“Great site - with a lot of articles that helped me understand what a 360 can really be."

Kate Simpson, Program Manager, Fortinberry & Murray. Australia.

"Leaderskill Group has assisted our strategic planning with their Mega Planning methodology for over seven years. In the article we co-wrote, I estimated that Defence Consulting had saved between 5 and 8 million dollars – without counting the savings of our stakeholders, including government – just on the redevelopment of the historical Randwick Barracks site in Sydney."

Peter Hoskins, Principal, Woods Bagot 

(See published article: ‘Profit and Benefits from Planning for Sustainability’).

Your continuing willingness to be flexible and adapt your tools and products to the needs of the customer make you an awesome partner!

Gary Cox, Principal Consultant, Chandler Macleod, Qld, Australia.

“We were extremely impressed with the tools that you have available and very much appreciated the flexibility you showed in adapting to our needs”

Dr Julie Stockton, HR Manager, University of British Columbia, BC, Canada.

“The most significant intervention we have undertaken. Influenced the growth and learning of our managers as leaders ...”

Snr Manager, SADAF Petrochemical Co., Saudi Arabia.


Strengths Opportunities Aspirations Results - Appreciative Inquiry (AI) based

SOAR: Appreciative Inquiry-based Strategy. Positivity rides again!

more »