Organizations seeking to change HOW they work may consider Appreciative Inquiry. The Appreciative Inquiry approach evaluates various viewpoints and to create an evolutionary path for the future. It leverages brainstorming, prioritizing, sub-teams, and various other tools we’ve discussed elsewhere, putting them in the context of:
“ . . . study and exploration of what gives life to human systems when they function at their best.”
(see Whitney, The Power of Appreciative Inquiry)
Method of Appreciative Inquiry
First of all, the Appreciative Inquiry approach provides a detailed prescriptive method of information gathering and documentation. Therefore, it requires training and mentoring to learn it and conduct it well. Consider the Appreciative Inquiry approach when you have been properly trained—and your organization seeks far-reaching change.
Its four phases are known as the 4-D model. Consequently, once scope has been determined or is provided, as in the case of many non-governmental organizations (NGO), its phases include:
- Discovery—search and illuminate those factors that give life to the organization, the “best of what is” for the purpose of the organization.
- Dream—about what could be.
- Design—the future through dialogue, finding common ground by sharing discoveries and possibilities and seeking common purpose.
- Destiny—construct the future through discipline, innovation, and action.
Comments on Appreciative Inquiry
Because Appreciative Inquiry emphasizes an appreciative view of what has been true in the past (e.g., successes, assets, etc), fundamental change demands a natural baseline. As a result, Appreciative Inquiry encourages a thorough, diligent, and open exploration of what could be true for the organization, once freed from judgment and prejudice.
This method values collaboration at the expense of command-control habits, making it highly amenable to technological change. Appreciative Inquiry workshops span from two days to two weeks, or longer. They rely on many of the tools we have discussed in other newsletters and found in the MG Rush curriculum. However, consider using a professional who specializes in Appreciative Inquiry or can be made readily available as your mentor.
Appreciative Inquiry recognizes that inquiry and change are occurring simultaneously. Inquiry catalyzes change—the things people think and talk about, the things people discover and learn. Therefore, inquiry captures the things that inform dialogue and inspire action through the questions we ask. See the originators Whitney and Watkins for additional reading.
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