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Appreciative Inquiry (Ai)

Appreciative Inquiry (Ai)

What is Appreciative Inquiry?

Appreciative Inquiry (Ai) is an organizational change process that begins with the positive supposition that the system is working and is not broken. Ai is based on a deceptively simple premise: that organizations grow in the direction of what they repeatedly ask questions about and focus their attention on. Why make this assumption? Research in sociology has shown that when people study problems and conflicts, the number and severity of the problems they identify actually increase. But when they study human ideals and achievements, peak experiences, and best practices, these things—not the conflicts—tend to flourish (Mohr, 2002).

The 4-D Cycle, the process most often associated with Ai, helps organizations to Discover what their best practices have been, Dream a future achievable reality, Design the best possible workable scenario and then set about action steps to create that desired reality in the Destiny phase.

Benefits of Appreciative Inquiry

Why would a company want to use an Appreciative Inquiry approach to change? Here are some benefits identified by previous Ai projects.

  • Ai creates a positive atmosphere for change and avoids the resistance and loss of hope for a better future encountered through the more traditional problem-solving approaches
  • Ai maximizes employee input and creates buy-in
  • By grounding participants in the best of the past and inspiring visions of a more-hoped-for future, Ai generates creativity, ownership and motivation
  • Ai engenders a renewed commitment to any organizational change and easily translates it into action

Appreciative Inquiry Applications

How can Appreciative Inquiry be used?

  • Strategic Visioning
  • Large/small scale change
  • Team Building
  • Business Process Excellence
  • Diversity
  • Knowledge Management
  • Customer Service
  • Learning Solutions
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Community Development
  • Addressing Culture Issues
  • Productive Meetings
  • Virtual Team Building

Testimonials of Appreciative Inquiry Participants

From Family Law Section Strategic Planning Retreat:

What worked well with this process (from family law attorneys):

  • The interviewing and key nuggets about diversity; the opportunity to place on a flip chart our priorities and projects we want to work on; developing chart of milestones with everyone’s input and buy-in!”
  • “The interviews of our colleagues and having representatives from the judiciary”
  • “Bringing Innovative teams to life was very helpful.  Also the large wall chart bringing the day all together”
  • “Sequence of exercises”
  • “The groups”
  • “The creative activity”
  • “Getting the ideas of what the section can/should do and people coming together who have heart/desire to complete ideas”
  • “The spirit of the two facilitators; we couldn’t have done it without you both!”
  • “The nuggets and themes; interviews; Horizon Roadmap”
  • “The interviews”
  • “Facilitators kept us all on task with fun and props”
  • “I enjoyed the seminar”
  • “Small group focus on individual ideas”
  • “Informal process helped break the ice…people were willing to interact!”
  • “The interaction between different people was great!”
  • “You kept us focused and interested with lots of creative energy!”

What You Learned?

  • “How much diversity, passion and creativity there is in this group”
  • “The Collaborative momentum is increasing”
  • “That we already do a lot and that there is a lot of passion and commitment in the members”
  • “Great ways to improve what we do”
  • “To relax, then think!”
  • “That many members share the same passions, concerns and ideas”
  • “Who is interested in different areas and ideas”
  • “How much excitement and willingness to be part of great new ideas our membership has!”
  • “How to unleash more creativity”
  • “To remind myself I have a lot to learn!”
  • “That our membership cares”
  • “Collaborative Law is a new process in Idaho”
  • “Have a better idea the makeup of the Family Law Section and how it works”
  • “Developing the leadership and how to bring in others”
  • “About all the efforts and coordination and teamwork in moving this section along”
  • “More about priorities of our group, common issues, and people on a more personal level”
  • “There are a lot of committed and passionate family law practitioners who I look forward to getting to know better!”
  • Sherry, “Congratulations, you really nailed it!  The entire Family Law Section appreciated your work last Friday!  What a great job!  We have a dynamic, workable roadmap, thanks to you, Cindi and a lot of vision and inspiration from our members!”

From Hewlett-Packard:

“I’ve been impressed by the whole program, although I was originally skeptical. I’ve been impressed by everyone’s creativity “ Customer Engineer

“I think this is a fantastic idea. It’s very much up to me to change the attitudes of the folks in the office. It’s been a major change in how I see things; it’s been a major change in my personal and professional life”. Customer Engineer

“If I take the time to ask one or two appreciative questions, I open a world of learning about a person”. Customer Engineer

“I just hope I can be as infectious on my peers as you guys have been on me. Lately, others in my group have been kind of negative, so I’m going to try to positively influence them”. Customer Engineer

“ In a virtual world, there is a compression of information, Ai through the use of its emotive language and dream process can add back the breadth, depth, nuance, subtlety and richness that sometimes gets pulled out in uni-dimensional, one-way communication”. Appreciative Inquiry Virtual Community Member