Appreciative Inquiry

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Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an organizational development process or philosophy that engages individuals within an organizational system in its renewal, change and focused performance.

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. It is now a commonly accepted practice in the evaluation 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.[1] 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.[2] [3]

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 gaps and inadequacies to find blame and remediate skills or practices, AI focuses on how to create more of the occasional exceptional performance that is occurring because a core of strengths is aligned. 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. It can be enjoyable and natural to many managers, who are often sociable people.

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 idea of building on strength, rather than just focusing on faults and weakness is a powerful idea in use in mentoring programs, and excellent performance evaluations. It is the basic idea behind teaching "micro-affirmations" as well as teaching about micro-inequities. (See Rowe 'Micro-Affirmations and Micro-inequities' in the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association, Volume 1, Number 1, March 2008.)

AI has been used extensively to foster change in businesses (a variety of sectors), health care systems, social profit organizations, educational institutions, communities, local governments, and religious institutions.

External links

References

  1. The Power of Appreciative Inquiry defines AI as "the study and exploration of what gives life to human systems, at their best" (Whitney and Trosten-Bloom, 2003)
  2. Theodore Kinni, "The Art of Appreciative Inquiry", The Harvard Business School Working Knowledge for Business Leaders Newsletter, September 22, 2003.
  3. "Appreciative Inquiry" http://www.new-paradigm.co.uk/Appreciative.htm.