Appreciative Inquiry

The traditional approach to change is to look for the problem, the gap, the deficit.  Since we look for what is wrong, we find it.  David Cooperrider challenged this approach and suggested we look for what works in organizations, rather than what is broken. Appreciative Inquiry was born.

Appreciative Inquiry calls us to look at the organization through the eye of an artist.  We look for the beauty.  We see the organization through the lens of its strengths rather than its deficits.  We ask questions such as, what is special, compelling, and defines who we are when we are at our best.  With a strong sense of knowing who we are at the core, we have the courage and the inspiration to interact with the changing environment.  We can then ask, who are we becoming?

When we look to the future with this positive and synergistic energy, our dreams are woven with the magic of the best that the organization has to offer.  The generative process grows from the positive core.  From systems thinking, we know that the more the system knows about itself, the more it can use that information to adapt and transform.  Are we growing out of our strengths and values, or from our disappointments and fears?

Below are the eight assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry taken from the The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry by Sue Annis Hammond.

  1. In every society, organization, or group, something works.
  2. What we focus on becomes our reality.
  3. Reality is created in the moment, and there are multiple realities.
  4. The act of asking questions of an organization or group influences the group in some way.
  5. People have more confidence and comfort to journey to the future (the unknown) when they carry forward parts of the past (the known).
  6. If we carry parts of the past forward, they should be what is best about the past.
  7. It is important to value differences.
  8. The language we use creates our reality.

Xponents has embraced this concept and utilized it to great effect with our clients.  If you would like to learn more about Appreciative Inquiry, call us today at 303-238-9733.