Appreciative Inquiry

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No matter how many challenges an organization might face, every organization has a positive core. This includes strengths, peak experiences, best practices, successes and key learning. And yet, we have little experience with looking for what works and finding ways to repeat that success. As one CEO lamented, “We have become eloquent articulators of what is wrong.” The job of leadership is to align strengths in such a powerful way, weaknesses become irrelevant.

Appreciative Inquiry teaches us to mine peak performance experiences and to spread them across the organization. The purpose of this presentation is to describe Appreciative Inquiry – what it is and what it is not – and to suggest ways that we can apply Appreciative Inquiry to improve performance.

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  • No matter how many challenges an organization might face, every organization has a positive core.
  • This includes strengths, peak experiences, best practices, successes and key learning.
  • And yet, we have little experience with looking for what works and finding ways to repeat that success. As one CEO lamented, “We have become eloquent articulators of what is wrong.” The job of leadership is to align strengths in such a powerful way, weaknesses become irrelevant.
  • When we are attuned to notice problems, we magnify that which we do not want.
  • The job of leadership is to align strengths in such a powerful way, weaknesses become irrelevant.
  • Appreciative Inquiry teaches us to mine peak performance experiences and to spread them across the organization.
  • There are two basic approaches to improving performance. We can focus on what is wrong or broken and then plan on ways to improve. Or we can focus on what we are doing right and find ways to do that more. Appreciative Inquiry takes the second approach. Instead of trying to focus on what’s wrong and then trying to fix it, Appreciative Inquiry focuses on what works and, by doing so, accentuates the positives.
  • Here is a side-by-side comparison of Problem-Solving vs. Appreciative Inquiry.
  • In the end, we have a choice. We can focus on what is wrong or broken and then plan on ways to improve. Or we can focus on what we are doing right and find ways to do that more.
  • Appreciative Inquiry Amplifies SuccessBy focusing on what is right, Appreciative Inquiry amplifies the successes.  Appreciative Inquiry Creates a Safe Way to Look at ProblemsWhen we focus on problem-solving, people become defensive. They may feel threatened and have a hard time accessing their higher-order thinking. Learning is stunted when focusing on what is wrong.  Because Appreciative Inquiry focuses on what is right, people become excited. They become engaged. They share their enthusiasm with others.  It Unlocks InnovationBy finding best practices and spreading them across the organization, Appreciative Inquiry can accelerate innovation across an organization. It Brings Together People with Differing WorldviewsPeople see the world in different ways. These world views can create conflict and disagreement. Appreciative Inquiry can put everyone’s view on the table, shifting world views into a cohesive conversation. It shifts the conversation from “what’s wrong” to “what’s right?”
  • There are five phases of Appreciative Inquiry, each of which is described below:DefineDiscoverDreamDesignDeliverThe Define phase is usually completed by the leadership team. Discovery is completed by a survey of the target audience. This is usually followed by an Appreciative Inquiry summit usually 2 – 4 days, where we bring in representatives from the target organization to discuss what we learned in the define and discovery phase. We use this group to dream and design.
  • Appreciative Inquiry often starts with defining our area of focus, or topic. The more specific the topic, the more impact Appreciative Inquiry can have. You may want to focus on employee engagement, top-line sales, margins, retention, or other areas. A focused topic creates focused questions for the discovery phase of the process.
  • The second phase of Appreciative Inquiry discovers what is going well. Think of discovery as “Appreciating and Valuing the Best of What Is.” In this phase we ask about peak experiences, best practices, lessons learned and key strengths that have led to success within an organization. This is usually done in an interview process. Discovery does not stop with determining what we are doing right. It goes on to discover why things are going well. What are the circumstances that are creating these conditions? What are the possibilities for amplifying the best? What would the organization look like if, instead of this exceptional set of circumstances being “exceptional,” what if it was the “norm?”
  • The third phase of Appreciative Inquiry is creating a vision of the ideal future based, not on fantasy, but on specific examples of previous success. Think of this phase as envisioning “What might be.” The output of the dream phase of the Appreciative Inquiry is a series of statements that describe where the company wants to be, based on the high moments of where we have been. One author called these “Provocative Propositions.” These provocative propositions keep our best at the conscious level. They remind us of what we are like at our best and how other Team Members can help create more, frequent peak performance experiences. Provocative propositions, when done correctly, create enthusiasm and excitement.
  • In the Design phase of Appreciative Inquiry, we design the mechanisms of implementation and we plan for how the new behaviors will be sustained over time. We agree on metrics and measures.
  • All of the above is not very useful without execution. The Deliver phase of Appreciative Inquiry is where we implement, monitor and improve the behaviors and practices.
  • Appreciative Inquiry

    1. 1. Appreciative Inquiry:Do More of What You are Great AtTony Loyd tloyd@cultureshift.com
    2. 2. Business challenges existNo matter the challenges… …we have core strengths from which to draw.
    3. 3. These are always available to us
    4. 4. And yet… We have become eloquent articulators of what is wrong.
    5. 5. We already know that… Power flows where the attention goes
    6. 6. Our JobThe job of leadership is to align strengths in such a powerful way, weaknesses become irrelevant.
    7. 7. Appreciative Inquiry Approach Appreciative Inquiry teaches us to find peak experiences, and then pollinate the rest of the organization with them.
    8. 8. Appreciative Inquiry Focus Problem Solving vs. Appreciative Inquiry Problem-Solving Appreciative Focus: Inquiry Focus: Doing less of what Doing more of we do not do well what works
    9. 9. How is it different? Problem-Solving Appreciative Inquiry Focuses on Pathology Focuses on Well-Being “Felt Need” Appreciating and Valuing Identification of Problems The Best of “What Is” Analysis of Causes Envisioning “What Might Be” Analysis of Possible Solutions Dialoguing “What Should Be” Action Planning Innovating “What Will Be” (Treatment) Basic Assumption: Basic Assumption: An organization is a Problem An Organization is a Mystery to be Solved to be Embraced Adopted from Cooperrider and Srivastva (1987) “Appreciative Inquiry into Organizational Life” in Research in Organizational Change and Development. Pasmore and Woodman (eds) Vol. 1, JAI Press
    10. 10. You have a choiceFocus on what is wrong or broken or focus on what we are doing right
    11. 11. A few benefits Amplifies Success Creates a Safe Way to Look at Problems Builds off of What We Already Know How to Do Brings Together People with Differing Worldviews Unlocks Innovation
    12. 12. How does it work? Define Discover Dream Design Deliver
    13. 13. Define the Topic Define Pick One: • Top-line Sales • Margins • Employee Engagement • Employee Retention • Customer Service The more specific the topic, the more impact Appreciative Inquiry can have.
    14. 14. Discover What and Why Discover Discover what works and why 1. Think about your time of working on this team. Focus on a moment that was a high point, when you felt most effective and engaged. Describe how you felt and what made the situation possible. 2. What happens on the job that renews your energy and enthusiasm? 3. Describe a time when you felt the team was being successful and focused. What were the circumstances that led to this success?
    15. 15. Dreams Based in Reality Dream Envision what can be based on what has been.
    16. 16. Design the Mechanisms Design Forecast more success into the future
    17. 17. Deliver the Promised Results Deliver Execute with Excellence
    18. 18. Resources Web Sites: Appreciative Inquiry Commons, http://ai.case.edu Videos: YouTube Video: Appreciative Inquiry, John Hayes YouTube Video: Appreciative Inquiry: A Conversation with David Cooperrider Books: Cooperrider, D., Whtney, D., Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change (2005), ISBN 1576753565, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Hammond, S. The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry (1998), ISBN 0966537319, Thin Book Publishing Company

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