Build On What You Do Right!

Posted on Apr 2, 2012 | 0 comments

Here’s some insights on a great approach to problem solving, known as Appreciative Inquiry.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is primarily an organisational development method which focuses on increasing what an organisation does well rather than on eliminating what it does badly.
Through an inquiry which appreciates a positive feature, it seeks to renew, develop and build on this. This approach is particularly applicable to organisations facing rapid change or growth.
Instead of asking “What’s the problem?”, Appreciative Inquiry takes an alternative approach – it starts with the belief that every organisation and every person in that organisation, has positive aspects that can be built upon. It asks questions like “What’s working well?”, “What’s good about what you are currently doing?”

Some researchers believe that excessive focus on dysfunctions can actually cause them to become worse or fail to become better. By contrast, AI argues, when all members of an organisation are motivated to understand and value the most favourable features of its culture, it can make rapid improvements.

Appreciative Inquiry attempts to use ways of asking questions and envisioning the future in-order to foster positive relationships and build on the present potential of a given person, organisation or situation. Research has demonstrated that this method can enhance an organisation’s internal capacity for collaboration and change. Appreciative Inquiry utilises a cycle of 4 processes:

DISCOVER: The identification of organizational processes that work well.
DREAM: The envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.
DESIGN: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well.
DELIVER: The implementation (execution) of the proposed design.

The basic idea is then to build – or rebuild – organisations around what works, rather than trying to fix what doesn’t. Take a positive focus on how to increase exceptional performance instead of improving poor skills and practices. This approach can be highly motivational. Progress does not stop when one problem is solved: it naturally leads on to continuous improvement.

If you’d like more information on Appreciative Inquiry I suggest you have a read of “Appreciative Inquiry” by Sue Annis Hammond, and a great article by David Cooperrider, “Business as an Agent of World Benefit: Awe is What Moves Us Forward”.


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