Managing Strategic Change: I Like, I Wish, I Wonder

How are you inspiring open communication?

Learn how to successfully communicate and manage cultural change in your organization with a simple, three-step strategy. Julie Bauke works with professionals from all types of organizations, and she says that many leaders tell her that it is difficult for them to get honest feedback from those they lead.

Julie provides help with a communication strategy she calls: I Like, I Wish, I Wonder. She shows us a detailed example of how to implement this strategy and how it can revive communication in a non-threatening way and stimulate valuable feedback.

Discover how to use this technique as part of your leadership style to transform your team culture and improve communication around cultural change.
When we talk about culture change, and that could be within your department, let's say that you've come in as a leader. You're a new leader and you're taking over for someone who spent all day in his or her office. So you're trying to create a new culture or you're trying to create a culture of accountability, whatever it is. We get so overwhelmed sometimes with, "Oh my gosh, I've got to turn this Titanic around." But, sometimes, it's doing little things really well and then building on them.

One of the things leaders say is it's really hard to get people to tell them the truth, to open up. And it could be because you've built that kind of culture where people are afraid to say something, and that's always possible. When they do make a suggestion, it gets shot down immediately but it also could be that people are a little hesitant to really express what's going on and share thoughts because they're afraid it's going to get shot down or they are afraid that, when you say, "How's it going?" you really don't want to hear the answer.

One of the things that I've seen done and heard of, and it's been around for a while but I love it, is, "I like, I wish, I wonder." And, in that case, like in a staff meeting, you might have everybody comment on I like, I wish, I wonder. For example, I like the way we all come together and pulled that event of at the last minute. It was a real great show of teamwork and, man I was never so proud as I was of our team that day. I wish we had really thought through the things that could have gone wrong before we got there that day because we probably could have avoided some of those issues. I wonder what would happen if 24 hours before that event, we sat down next time and went through all the things that could go wrong to make sure that everybody was on the same page.

So you get an opportunity to give a compliment, to make a suggestion for improvement, and to think big. And so it can really help inspire creativity and innovation, and when you get to "I wonder" people can say crazy things. "What would happen if we brought in a sad clown in next time?" "Oh, that's silly." "Wait a minute, maybe that's not silly. Let me tell you why." So it's a great way to get people to talk because a lot of times when you say, "How's it really going?" "Fine. Everything's great." Alrighty then, where do we go from here?

So you're forcing people into an open-ended question and it might take a while to get people to really speak up but it really does inspire openness. I wish could take credit for it because it's brilliant, but I try to use it even when I'm assessing what I could have done better as a leader. Maybe at the end of a staff meeting I might say to myself, "I like that we did the round robin," or, "I like the way we handled the questions. I wish maybe I had started the meeting on time because I think it sends the wrong message. I wonder what would happen if we made someone in the room a timekeeper?" So you could also use it as a self-check, which I think as a leader we constantly have to be asking ourselves these questions.

Julie Bauke

Julie Bauke is The Chief Career Happiness Officer of The Bauke Group. She is as serious about your Career Happiness as she is her own — and she is deadly serious about hers.

She started The Bauke Group after a lifetime of bel...

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