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I am always on the lookout for tools that are simple, failsafe and effective.  I think I’ve found one.  I stumbled into this one in a LinkedIn posting, but the real credit goes to Stanford’s d.school where it was first developed.

I wantThe tool is remarkably simple.  It can easily be used by a manager, a coach or a consultant.  Imagine a group gathering to debrief a project, discuss the week or just talk about how things are going.  The only restriction is that each person must start his or her statement with  “I like…”, “I wish…” or “I wonder…”.  The idea is to keep the statements succinct and to avoid responding until everyone has spoken.  Finally, any topic of interest is fair game.

A typical weekly debrief could go something like this:

“I like the new vending machines installed earlier this week.”
“I wish we could get customer feedback faster.”
“I wonder if the weather is going to get colder next week.”
“I wish we could get a faster printer.”
“I wonder if we’ll hear back on the ABC proposal next week.”
“I like the new weather App I just downloaded.”

Are these earth-shattering comments?  No.  But it’s a simple structure where everyone can easily participate and within the brief comments serious issues can be raised or potential concerns can be voiced before they turn into something much larger.

As a framework for feedback

This same framework can be leveraged as a tool for constructive feedback.  Imagine a situation where you are offering feedback on an individual’s performance.

+ I like the way you organize your thoughts before voicing them in our project meetings
– I wish you could provide written copies of your main points prior to our sessions so others could feel more prepared to join in the discussion.
? I wonder if pausing during your presentations for questions might help others better understand your key points.

As a framework for a status check

Rather than the typical status check … “How do you feel things are going?”  What if you asked an employee or client to begin with, “I like, I wish, I wonder?”

Is this tool the best thing since sliced bread?  Probably not, but it is easy to remember and could be just what you need at the close of your next meeting.  At any rate … I like its simplicity, I wish there were more tools like this, and I wonder when I’ll use it next.