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Appreciative Inquiry

What is it?

Appreciative Inquiry is an approach used in organizational transformation and change management. It would have its place in Organizational Development (OD).

What challenges, problems and opportunities does Appreciative Inquiry address?

Appreciative Inquiry helps teams and organizations to change more rapidly and sustainably. Here are some examples, which took either a half-day or a whole day workshop:
  • Improving their attitude to provide excellent customer service after customer complaints
  • Merging two teams to work together effectively, and to dispel the conflicts generated in the past
  • An organization decided that the function was changing from auditor to advisor, and wanted immediate buy-in and change from the team of 40 people.

How does it work?

  • Our Appreciative Inquiry facilitator meets with all key stake-holders to understand :
    • what problem, challenge or opportunity you would like to address,
    • whether this approach fits your need,
    • whether your organization is ready for it
  • The theme or topic is chosen and formulated in a positive sense, e.g. ‘excellent customer service’ as opposed to ‘why customer complaints have increased’.
  • Your facilitator takes you through the concepts of Appreciative Inquiry and explains the phases of the 5D process. Together you prepare the workshop, the interview process, the people to include, the invitation and the event itself.
  • The workshop is facilitated by the Appreciative Inquiry facilitator allowing you and your people to fully participate in the process.
  • At the end of the workshop, the facilitator runs a debriefing session to ensure the sustainability of the decisions and actions, and plan further action if needed.

How does the Appreciative Inquiry process work?

A workshop or summit would generally be organized according to the 5 phases of the AI process. Each process emerges in a different way, and the facilitator may adapt it as it goes along.

The 5 phases are:

1. Defining the affirmative topic This phase is part of the Preparation phase. The choice of topic is discussed with the requesting person and other stakeholders.
This is not as definitive as goal-setting, it is choosing an affirmative, something that the organization wants to develop, learn about, or enhance in their way of doing business.

2. Discovering
The aim of this first phase in the workshop is to discover ‘the best of what is’, and to appreciate what gives life and energy to the people, their work and their organization. The information from this phase is used as a platform for the next phase.
3. Dreaming
The aim in this phase is to focus on ‘what might be’, to envision how the organization might look in the future. This future is grounded in the organization’s potential as discovered in the first phase.
4. Designing The aim of this phase is to create or design organizational structures, processes and relationships that support the dream.
5. Destiny
The aim of this last phase is to sustain the developments and innovations of the inquiry process and to nurture the collective sense of destiny.

What is interesting and different about it ?

  • It is a participative approach for the whole system, employees and managers alike.
  • It was developed by David Cooperrider and his colleagues looking for a more effective way to bring about organizational change than the traditional change management approaches, i.e. the problem solving approach or the top-down implementation of strategic change.
  • It focuses on using the resources and strengths already present in the organization to envision and create a better future, situation, or process.
  • It finds solutions to complex situations that are simple for the people to implement.
  • It avoids problem analysis, blaming and finger-pointing.
  • It is cost effective as it is implemented rapidly.

What’s in it for you and your organization?

  • You and your people – not external consultants - generate solutions.
  • You bring in all the stakeholders, regardless of hierarchical situations, to participate.
  • You will have results and transformation by the end of the first workshop.
  • You will generate positive energy because you will be focusing on “what works well”.

What kind of services do we offer your organization?

A discovery meeting An opportunity to present to you how Appreciative Inquiry works, and discover more about you and your organization, and what you would want to use Appreciative Inquiry for.

A half-day workshop

You would like to move your team or organization forward on a particular theme, such as providing excellent customer service or collaboration.

A half-day workshop gives an introduction to Appreciative Inquiry and a chance for everyone to go through the 4-D-Cycle.

A full-day workshop

You want to make an organizational change and use all of the team’s ideas and resources to make sure the outcomes and solutions are realistic and sustainable.

A full day workshop gives an introduction to Appreciative Inquiry and allows the team to focus on what needs to happen in the future and how they can make that happen.

Knowledge transfer and ongoing assistance You want to use your people to make the change and to accompany and facilitate the organization through the process.

A made-to-measure process with our external supervision can ensure that your people learn the skills of facilitating Appreciative Inquiry and find the answers to their questions.

Why work with us?

Kate Lindley Scheidegger, an organizational development consultant,  has extensive experience of working with Appreciative Inquiry since 1995. She has applied it in her work with International ElectroTechnical Commission (IEC), Covance, JP Morgan, Nestlé, Sun Microsystems Inc., among others.
She was trained by Jane McGruder Watkins, one of David Cooperrider’s close colleagues, in July 1995. She is doing her doctorate with the Taos Institute and Tilburg University in social constructionist thinking, which underpins Appreciative Inquiry.

Who invented Appreciative Inquiry ?

The original theory and vision for “Appreciative Inquiry into Organizational Life” was articulated by two professors, David L. Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva at the Wetherhead School of Management in 1987.

For more information, go to www.appreciativeinquiry.case.edu , hosted by Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management.