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Appreciative Inquiry

If you are looking for a OD process that makes a difference, have a look at Appreciative. I attended the AHRI Leadership Conference and the HR Team at Brisbane Treasury Casino implemented this process and had fantastic results!

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an organizational development process or philosophy that engages individuals within an organizational system in its renewal, change and focused performance. AI is based on the assumption that organizations change in the way they inquire and the claim that an organization that inquiries into problems or difficult situations will keep finding more of the same, but an organization that tries to appreciate what is best in itself will find/discover more and more of what is good.[1].

Appreciative Inquiry was adopted from work done by earlier action research theorists and practitioners and further developed by David Cooperrider of Case Western Reserve University and Suresh Srivastva in the 1980s. Cooperrider and Srivastva say that an organization is a miracle to be embraced rather than a problem to be solved. According to them, inquiry into organizational life should have the following characteristics:

  • Appreciative
  •  Applicable
  • Provocative
  • Collaborative

It is now a commonly accepted practice in the creation of organizational development strategy and implementation of organizational effectiveness tactics.
Appreciative Inquiry is a particular way of asking questions and envisioning the future that fosters positive relationships and builds on the basic goodness in a person, a situation, or an organization. In so doing, it enhances a system’s capacity for collaboration and change.
Appreciative Inquiry utilizes a cycle of 4 processes focusing on:

  1. DISCOVER: The identification of organizational processes that work well.
  2. DREAM: The envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.
  3. DESIGN: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well.
  4. DESTINY (or DELIVER): The implementation (execution) of the proposed design.

The basic idea is to build organizations around what works, rather than trying to fix what doesn’t. It is the opposite of problem solving. Instead of focusing on gaps and inadequacies to remediate skills or practices, AI focuses on how to create more of the exceptional performance that is occurring when a core of strengths is aligned. It opens the door to a universe of possibilities, since the work doesn’t stop when a particular problem is solved but rather focuses on “What is the best we can be?” The approach acknowledges the contribution of individuals, in order to increase trust and organizational alignment. The method aims to create meaning by drawing from stories of concrete successes and lends itself to cross-industrial social activities.

There are a variety of approaches to implementing Appreciative Inquiry, including mass-mobilized interviews and a large, diverse gathering called an Appreciative Inquiry Summit (Ludema, Whitney, Mohr and Griffin, 2003). Both approaches involve bringing very large, diverse groups of people together to study and build upon the best in an organization or community.

The basic philosophy of AI is also found in other positively oriented approaches to individual change as well as organizational change. As noted above, ” AI …fosters positive relationships and builds on the basic goodness in a person, or a situation ….” The principles behind A.I. are based in the rapidly developing science of Positive Psychology. The idea of building on strength, rather than just focusing on faults and weakness is a powerful idea in use in mentoring programs, and in coaching dynamics. It is the basic idea behind teaching “micro-affirmations” as well as teaching about micro-inequities.

Taken from Wikipedia
Read: The Power of Appreciative Inquiry: A Practical Guide to Positive Change
Diana Whitney (Author), Amanda Trosten-Bloom (Author), David Cooperrider (Foreword)
Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change
David L Cooperrider (Author), Diana Whitney (Author)

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