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Appreciative Inquiry: Focusing on the Positive to Build Upon What Works

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An overview of the Appreciative Inquiry model to bring about positive change.

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Appreciative Inquiry: Focusing on the Positive to Build Upon What Works

  1. 1. APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY FOCUSING ON THE POSITIVE TO BUILD UPON WHAT WORKS RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting Robert S. Travis Founder, President, and Chief Consultant RST & Associates: Organizational Effectiveness Consulting 301.655.1073 rstravis@rst-and-associates.com www.rst-and-associates.com September, 2016
  2. 2. WHAT IS APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY? RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting  A model that seeks to engage stakeholders in self-determined change.  Focuses on the positive.  Seeks to identify and build upon what works well, rather than to fix what doesn’t.  Takes a social constructionist approach, that organizations are created, maintained, and changed by conversations.  Can bring about transformation through generating new ideas and the will to act on them.  More a set of principles than a specific methodology; there is no one way to conduct Appreciative Inquiry.  Established in 1987 by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva at Case Western Reserve University.  Often abbreviated as “Ai,” to distinguish it from the “AI” abbreviation for Artificial Intelligence. (Wikipedia, 2016)
  3. 3. WHAT IS APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY? RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting “Appreciative Inquiry is the cooperative search for the best in people, their organizations, and the world around them. It involves systematic discovery of what gives a system ‘life’ when it is most effective and capable in economic, ecological, and human terms. AI involves the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to heighten positive potential. It mobilizes inquiry through crafting an ‘unconditional positive question’ often involving hundreds or sometimes thousands of people.” – David Cooperrider and Diana Whitney (2001). “Appreciative Inquiry focuses us on the positive aspects of our lives and leverages them to correct the negative. It’s the opposite of ‘problem-solving’.” – T. H. White (1996).
  4. 4. PROBLEM SOLVING VS. APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting Problem Solving Appreciative Inquiry Identification of problems Setting a context of appreciation of what is Analysis of causes: “What is going on?” Inquiry: Valuing the best of “what is” Analysis of possible solutions: “How to fix the problem” Envisioning: “What might be?” Action planning: “How to get it done” Dialoguing/Aligning: “This is what will be” Action: “Fix the problem” Innovating: “Creating and sustaining it now” Basic assumption: The organization is a problem to be fixed Basic assumption: The organization is a mystery to be embraced (Cooperrider & Srivastva,1987; Thatchenkery, 2006)
  5. 5. THE FIVE PRINCIPLES OF APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting  The Constructionist Principle  The Principle of Simultaneity  The Poetic Principle  The Anticipatory Principle  The Positive Principle (Busche, 2013)
  6. 6. THE FIVE PRINCIPLES OF APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting The Constructionist Principle The constructionist principle proposes that what we believe to be true determines what we do, and thought and action emerge from relationships. Through the language and discourse of day to day interactions, people co- construct the organizations they inhabit. The purpose of inquiry is to stimulate new ideas, stories and images that generate new possibilities for action. (Busche, 2013)
  7. 7. THE FIVE PRINCIPLES OF APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting The Principle of Simultaneity The principle of simultaneity proposes that as we inquire into human systems we change them and the seeds of change, the things people think and talk about, what they discover and learn, are implicit in the very first questions asked. Questions are never neutral, they are fateful, and social systems move in the direction of the questions they most persistently and passionately discuss. (Busche, 2013)
  8. 8. THE FIVE PRINCIPLES OF APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting The Poetic Principle The poetic principle proposes that organizational life is expressed in the stories people tell each other every day, and the story of the organization is constantly being co-authored. The words and topics chosen for inquiry have an impact far beyond just the words themselves. They invoke sentiments, understandings, and worlds of meaning. In all phases of the inquiry effort is put into using words that point to, enliven and inspire the best in people. (Busche, 2013)
  9. 9. THE FIVE PRINCIPLES OF APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting The Anticipatory Principle The anticipatory principle posits that what we do today is guided by our image of the future. Human systems are forever projecting ahead of themselves a horizon of expectation that brings the future powerfully into the present as a mobilizing agent. Appreciative inquiry uses artful creation of positive imagery on a collective basis to refashion anticipatory reality. (Busche, 2013)
  10. 10. THE FIVE PRINCIPLES OF APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting The Positive Principle The positive principle proposes that momentum and sustainable change requires positive affect and social bonding. Sentiments like hope, excitement, inspiration, camaraderie and joy increase creativity, openness to new ideas and people, and cognitive flexibility. They also promote the strong connections and relationships between people, particularly between groups in conflict, required for collective inquiry and change. (Busche, 2013)
  11. 11. CORE PROCESSES OF APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting 1. Definition: Choose the positive as the focus of inquiry. 2. Discovery: Identify organizational processes that work well. 3. Dream: Envision processes that would work well in the future. 4. Design: Plan and prioritize processes that will work well. 5. Destiny/Delivery: Implement the proposed design.
  12. 12. CORE PROCESSES OF APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting Definition Choose the positive as the focus of inquiry. The scope of the inquiry is defined by choosing an “Affirmative Topic” (for example, increased customer satisfaction, improved health and safety, higher levels of employee engagement, more effective operations, etc.). The topic is phrased in lively, inspiring language (for example, “inspiring fanatically loyal customers”). NOTE: Many practitioners do not include this process as part of Appreciative Inquiry. For example, the classic “4D” model begins with the next process. (Busche, 2013)
  13. 13. CORE PROCESSES OF APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting Discovery Identify organizational processes that work well. Participants are encouraged to reflect on and discuss the best of what is concerning the topic of inquiry. Through interviews and/or shared story telling, participants are asked about their own “best of” experiences. For example: “Tell me about a time when you felt most engaged at this company.” From these interviews and stories, common themes are identified as “Life-giving Forces” for the organization. (Busche, 2013, Thatchenkery, 2005)
  14. 14. CORE PROCESSES OF APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting Dream Envision processes that would work well in the future. Participants are asked to imagine the organization at its best in relation to the Affirmative Topic and the Life-giving Forces. Common aspirations are identified and symbolized in some way. Rather than a mission statement, the common aspirations are often symbolized in more symbolic graphical representations. (Busche, 2013; Thatchenkery, 2005)
  15. 15. CORE PROCESSES OF APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting Design Plan and prioritize processes that will work well. Participants develop concrete proposals for the new organizational state. Often, small groups are assigned Life-giving Forces derived in the Discovery phase, around which they develop positive “Possibility Propositions,” descriptions of the desired future organizational state, written in the present tense. These are validated by the whole group on such factors as importance, urgency, and presence (i.e. how much of this is already being done) in order to prioritize them. (Busche, 2013; Thatchenkery, 2005)
  16. 16. CORE PROCESSES OF APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting Destiny/Delivery Implement the proposed design. Originally referred to as “Delivery,” the preferred term for this process is now “Destiny,” as the word delivery evokes images of objectives to meet, targets to hit, and gaps to fill. Rather, participants make self-chosen commitments to take action consistent with bringing about any of the Possibility Propositions developed in the Design phase. Leadership monitors and supports these innovations and establishes events and processes to energize and nurture this self-organizing change. (Busche, 2013)
  17. 17. REFERENCES AND RESOURCES Barrett, F. J. & Fry, R. E. (2005). Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Approach to Building Cooperative Capacity. Chagrin Falls, OH: Taos Institute. Bushe, G. R. (2007). Appreciative Inquiry is Not (Just) About the Positive. OD Practitioner, Vol. 39, No. 4. pp. 30-35. Bushe, G. R. (2012). Foundations of Appreciative Inquiry: History, Criticism, and Potential. AI Practitioner, Vol. 14, No. 1 Bushe, G. R. (2013). Kessler, E., ed. The Appreciative Inquiry Model (PDF). The Encyclopedia of Management Theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management. The Appreciative Inquiry Commons. Retrieved September 18, 2016 from http://www.appreciativeinquiry.case.edu. The Center for Appreciative Inquiry. Retrieved September 18, 2016 from http://www.centerforappreciativeinquiry.net. Cooperrider, D. L. & Srivastva, S. (1987). Appreciative Inquiry in Organizational Life. In Woodman, R. W. & Pasmore, W.A. Research in Organizational Change And Development. Vol. 1. Stamford, CT: JAI Press. pp. 129–169. Cooperrider, D. L. & Whitney, D. (2005). Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler. Cooperrider, D. L. & Whitney, D. (2001). A Positive Revolution in Change. In Cooperrider, D. L.; Sorenson, P.; Whitney, D. & Yeager, T. Appreciative Inquiry: An Emerging Direction for Organization Development. Champaign, IL: Stipes. pp. 9–29. RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting
  18. 18. REFERENCES AND RESOURCES Cooperrider, D. L., Whitney, D. & Stavros, J. M. (2008). Appreciative Inquiry Handbook (2nd ed.). Brunswick, OH: Crown Custom Publishing. Gibbs, C., Mahé, S. (2004). Birth of a Global Community: Appreciative Inquiry in Action. Bedford Heights, OH: Lakeshore Publishers. Hammond, S. A. (2013). The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry (3rd ed.). Bend, OR: Thin Book Publishing. Lewis, S., Passmore, J. & Cantore, S. (2008). The Appreciative Inquiry Approach to Change Management. London, UK: Kogan Paul. Ludema, J. D. Whitney, D., Mohr, B. J. & Griffen, T. J. (2003). The Appreciative Inquiry Summit. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler. Mohr, B. J. & Magruder Watkins, J. (2002). The Essentials of Appreciative Inquiry: A Roadmap for Creating Positive Futures. Westford, MA: Pegasus Communications. Thatchenkery, T. (2005). Appreciative Sharing of Knowledge: Leveraging Knowledge Management for Strategic Change. Chagrin Falls, OH: Taos Institute. Thatchenkery, T. & Metzker, C. (2006). Appreciative Intelligence: Seeing the Mighty Oak in the Acorn. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler. White, T. H. (1996). Working in Interesting Times: Employee Morale and Business Success in the Information Age. Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol XLII, No. 15. Whitney, D. & Trosten-Bloom, A. (2010). The Power of Appreciative Inquiry (2nd ed.). Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler. Wikipedia. Appreciative Inquiry. Retrieved September 18, 2016 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/appreciative_inquiry. RST & ASSOCIATES Organizational Effectiveness Consulting

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