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Visioning the Ideal: Wish, Want, Wonder

This tool provides a method for encouraging a group to frame a situation positively and focus on the way they want things to be. Rather than getting bogged down in what isn't working, the energy of the group gets turned toward what they would like.

Imagine that teachers have been complaining about having to chaperone the monthly school dances. On a white board or flipchart pages, write each phrase with space underneath:

Key Points To Take Away

--- Use this tool when you want to change the energy of a group that is stuck in complaining mode.
--- Remind everyone to start every sentence with either "I wish," "I want," or "I wonder."
--- Coach people who are having a hard time switching a negative thought to a more positive one.


"I wish..."

"I want..."

"I wonder..."

Then explain that during this discussion about the chaperoning issue all comments must begin with one of those three phrases. If someone says something else, he or she will be asked to rephrase it as a wish, a want or a wonder. Review the basic rules of brainstorming and proceed.

This brainstorming situation might go something like this

Mariah: "I wish we could cancel all dances."
(Even though that thought is a negative one, write it down on the "I wish" list.)

Nadine: "I wonder how to get enough chaperones without using us teachers."

Jerome: "I'd really like the kids to have fun, it's just that I am so tired by Friday night."
Write down "want the kids to have fun." Then ask Jerome how he could turn the last part of what he said into a wish, want, or wonder statement.

"I wish the dances were on Saturday night, so I've had time to recuperate from the week."

After the group has completed its brainstorm, ask everyone to read through the lists and see if there are new ideas for dealing with chaperoning. Hopefully, a new way of looking at the issue has emerged, the energy is better, and people will begin to think in terms of possibilities rather than negatives.

NEXT WEEK IN GREAT MEETINGS: Collect ideas using the “Defining the Vision” activity.


About Great Meetings

Pam Plumb and Dee Kelsey are your facilitators in charge of Education World's Great Meetings series. They are also authors of the popular guide to meeting facilitation, Great Meetings! Great Results. Together, Pam and Dee have more than 40 years' experience facilitating change and training meeting leaders.

Learn more by clicking the links below:

* Read biographies
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* See the Great Meetings archive
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