I Like, I Wish, I Wonder – A Technique

For many of us, wondering aloud can take tremendous courage. This is especially true if it is not invited. The technique “I like, I wish, I wonder” offers a multi-layered process for hearing and collecting input or reflections that are nuanced, fresh, and exciting. Opening space for wishes and wonderings can feel especially inspiring.  

When to Use It  

  • When you are looking for input. The three levels of sharing can offer rich and provocative thoughts and ideas to consider.  
  • When you want to break people out of set ways of thinking. “I wonder” can be especially helpful for this.  
  • When truth-telling may be needed. “I wish” and “I wonder” can expose uncertainties and partially formed thoughts that may not be shared otherwise. 
  • When you are looking to synthesize a new model or proposal. This is a way to collect reactions and input that feels accessible to participants and respectful for those who are putting the proposal forward.   

How it Works  

  • Explain the instructions clearly and answer questions before starting.  
  • Invite solo reflection on the three questions before any sharing. Most people will need time to consider each, however “I wonder” can be especially challenging. You may want to quantify your invitation: “Name 3 things you liked, 2 things you wish, and 1 thing you are wondering about.”  
  • Encourage notetaking. Having someone to act as a scribe may make it easier to share in pairs or small groups.  
  • Invite pair and/or small group sharing. Sharing reflections aloud is helpful and group work allows everyone to do so at the same time.  
  • Share ideas collectively. This can be done in a multitude of ways. Two favorites of mine are: 1) post all ideas on the wall under three titles and hear a sample; and 2) share only the wonderings, pausing after each, while in a circle.  

Ways to Use It  

  • At the start of a gathering. In a meeting where you need to build on something that already exists, it can be helpful to share thoughts and feelings about the present situation before working on a future state. Some examples of this can include a new strategic plan, project, or recently implemented organizational change. 
  • At the end of challenging work. Before moving on to other work or learning, this technique can invite an important pause to reflect on what has been completed.  
  • At the end of a day. Invite participants to share what they like, wish, or wonder about the work, learning, or decisions. This is especially meaningful in a multi-day event or gathering.  
  • In a performance review. This can feel different but be very effective.   

Tips for Success  

  • Decide if you want to collect the data generated. If you do, you need to decide on the best way to share and collect it. Using Post-it notes is often easiest. You may want to collect and type up the notes after your event to facilitate sharing back with the group.  
  • Prepare the supplies. Whether everyone writes their ideas on Post-it notes, on flip chart paper, or some other way, you will want to ensure each table group has what they need before starting. Minimize wasting time and energy on unnecessarily distributing materials after setting the activity. Prepare in advance.  
  • Leave the information gathered up. If the data is shared and interacted with on a wall, leave it there. This will allow others to revisit it, take a photo, and even add to it. This can be especially valuable in multi-day events.  
  • Give enough time. A good rule of thumb is 5-10 minutes for solo work, 10-15 minutes for pair or group sharing, and 10-15 minutes for large group debrief.  

This is a powerful technique with many uses. I encourage you to give it a try. 

When may this technique be helpful in your facilitation or teaching? 

Jeanette Romkema  is GLP Senior Consultant and Co-owner. Here are more blogs by  Jeanette.  

Here are other GLP blogs describing facilitation techniques or practices that may interest you.