Belbin in the Appreciative Inquiry Process

belbin plus ai

Over the past year we have been using the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) process in our interventions and consulting and are excited and amazed at the platform for change management that the AI process provides. By approaching change from a mindset of existing strengths, AI unlocks in organisations, departments and teams, energy, enthusiasm and creativity by discovering the ‘best of what is’ and using this storehouse of energy to infuse and create the best that can possibly be!

Introducing the Belbin Team Roles in the AI process has proved to be the anchor and the guide that facilitates the ‘actioning’ of the envisioned goal.

The AI process and Belbin:

Most AI processes follow the flow of the 4D Cycle given below:


Discover: A key aspect of AI is the Appreciative Interviews where questions are asked into a selected topic to discover the existing foundational strengths- termed as ‘positive core’. The inquiry is made by the team members themselves  with the objective to discover the strengths that are already present. The aim is to uncover and appreciate the good that is. It is exciting and powerful to discover and witness this reservoir of energy that really enables incremental growth and change.

In key interventions such as the ‘Leader assimilation’ wherein a new leader is settling in with his team or a ‘Team assimilation’ intervention wherein a new project team is being put together, unearthing the Positive core of ‘breakthrough team performance’ has proved to be such a powerful exercise in getting the team to enter into and live a shared understanding and belief of what is possible. While working with a key project team for a manufacturing major in the country, the Discover phase created for the team a shared experience that allowed them to understand, acknowledge and leverage the energy, grit and determination that they were bringing into the project.

Dream: Using the Dream stage to envision the team purpose allows members to define, discover and understand the reason for the team’s existence. This gives the team a strong sense of identity and purpose. With the teams we’ve worked with, whether telecom, manufacturing, services or even non profit, this exercise of articulating the team purpose helps the members truly see how the team is making a difference- beyond what may be merely evident and thus gives the team a life giving raison d’etre.

Design: Anchoring the Design stage in the Belbin Team Roles provides the team with a tool, language and a plan to make their purpose a living reality. The Belbin Team Roles focuses on discovering team role strengths and leveraging them so as to maximise potential. By helping understand the contributions that each member is bringing to the table and harnessing the team role strengths, the Belbin team roles facilitates the design phase by enabling the team to organise its resources and aligning the same to project requirements.

Belbin Accredited professionals will be familiar with the Team Collaboration chart wherein the project stages are highlighted and team role contributions at each stage is identified. Example of the same is given below. Accordingly aligning individual team role strengths to the project stages, increases effectiveness and employee engagement  levels.

Process StepsTasksContribution statements & Team RolesTeam membersProcess owner
Need IdentificationMarket SurveyEnjoy analysing, giving expertise (Specialist, Monitor Evaluator)LED, LMNAMJ
Internal assessment of supply chainAdvising and strategizing (Specialist, Monitor Evaluator)PD, STKAMJ

Destiny: Destiny is  making the dream a reality. The team collaboration exercise provides a framework and content to review at team meetings. These team meetings take stock of progress on the team collaboration and make the Destiny phase a robust one. The team meetings offer an opportunity to realign individual team role contributions to the dynamic demands of changing situations.