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Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry as a Performance Improvement Methodology


Division of Occupational Psychology Learning a Living 2006 Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry as a Performance Improvement Methodology Sarah Lewis: Jemstone Consultancy – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry as a Performance Improvement Methodology

Division of Occupational Psychology Learning a
Living 2006
  • Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry as a
    Performance Improvement Methodology
  • Sarah Lewis Jemstone Consultancy
  • Wednesday 24th May 2006

Appreciative Inquiry
  • What is it and whats new about it?
  • How does it work?
  • How does it fit with the body of psychology?
  • How do you do it?
  • How can it be used to improve performance at the
    organisational, group and individual level?

What is Appreciative Inquiry?
  • Theory and practice of organisational change and
  • That grew out of a dissatisfaction with Action
  • That recognizes and foregrounds human systems of
    belief, meaning and action in organisations
  • That treats organisations as living human systems
  • And has been developed by David Cooperrider,
    Suresh Srivastva and others from Case Western

What is it not?
  • Scientific Method
  • Objectivist There is an objective universe more
    or less separate from and independent of the
  • Positivist Privileges the physically observable
  • Reductionist Reduce higher order phenomena to
    elements (the parts)
  • Fixed accounts
  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • Constructionist The universe is socially
    constructed. We can never see the world as it
    really is
  • Holistic Rejects dualistic understandings, gives
    credence to mental causality, social dynamics
  • Connective Interested in the connections between
    elements and complex patterns (the sum)
  • Generative accounts

How is it different?
Problem Solving AI Thinking
Problem focus (medical model) Account focus (social constructionism)
Solving the past Creating the future
Critical thinking analysis (data) Generative thinking (possibilities)
Planned solutions Emergent ways forward
Directed Facilitated / co-ordinated
Negative emotion/logic Positive energy/relationship
So whats new in appreciative inquiry?
  • Organisations as the triumph of the human
    imagination (rather than fixed, given entities)
  • Organisation and organisations as products of
    human interaction and mind
  • Not interested in why things go wrong, interested
    in how they work
  • There is a move from deficit language to life
    centric approaches
  • From vocabularies of human deficit to
    vocabularies of hope
  • Organisations dont need fixing, need constant

How is it different to other change methodologies?
  • Creative rather than curative
  • Dynamic rather than procedural
  • Language as a living process rather than as a
  • Embraces rather than pathologies humanness
  • Focus on possibility rather than certainty
  • Many ways rather than one right way

Why appreciative?
  • Appreciation is a process of affirmation, it is
    an act of attention
  • Create change by paying attention to what you
    want more of
  • Appreciation helps groups generate images for
    themselves based on an affirmative understanding
    of their past.

Why inquiry?
  • Inquiry focuses attention
  • Inquiry produces accounts
  • Inquiry is a creative process
  • Inquiry is influential

Appreciative inquiry principles
  • The constructionist principle
  • The simultaneity principle
  • The poetic principle
  • The anticipatory principle
  • The positive principle

The Constructionist principle
  • Reality is socially constructed
  • We create our realities in relationship and
  • We see what we talk about/we hear what we listen
    out for
  • Its a multi-verse not a universe
  • Meaning is context bound
  • We seek always to make sense and to go on
  • Organisations are networks of conversation
  • The future is socially constructed

Social Constructionist based methodologies
  • Working with metaphors
  • Strange loops of belief and paradoxical accounts
  • Coordinated management of meaning
  • Domains of conversation
  • Stories
  • Lego Serious Play
  • Appreciative Inquiry

Simultaneity principle
  • To ask a question is to intervene The questions
    we ask are fateful and impactful
  • Client and consultant, manager and team,
    organisation and environment are all in systemic
    relationship - each influencing the other
  • It is not possible in human terms to stand
    outside the system
  • To talk is to act To talk differently is to
    create change
  • There is a moral element to our choice of inquiry
  • Practice can not be divorced from theory,
    diagnosis can not be divorced from intervention
  • There is no before

The poetic principle
  • An organisation is more like a text than a
  • An organisation has many authors
  • The many authors create, co-create, and recreate
    the organisation
  • Changing different authors stories will change
    the organisation
  • Stories dont reflect what is happening they are
    what is happening
  • The future is co-created by many authors

The anticipatory principle
  • Human systems are essentially heliotropic
  • They grow towards positive anticipatory futures
  • These futures are socially constructed
  • All behaviour in the present points towards the
  • When a future is sufficiently meaningful and
    attractive, behaviour will become oriented
    towards achieving that future
  • The greater the self organisation, the greater
    the energy that goes into growth and the less
    that goes into creating order

Positive principle
  • Change takes energy
  • Positive energy is a powerful source for change
  • Positive energy can be created by re-experiencing
    positive experiences and
  • By experiencing positive images of the future

Seligman Positive Psychology
  • Positive emotional states
  • Correlated with many good things e.g. longevity,
    health, life satisfaction, social bonding,
    exploration and creativity
  • Present when using our strengths, and when in a
    flow state
  • Researched universally recognised positive traits
    and called these virtues

The Virtues
  • Virtues
  • Wisdom and knowledge
  • Courage
  • Love and humanity
  • Justice
  • Temperance
  • Spirituality and transcendence
  • Underpinned by 24 strengths
  • The strengths that are deeply characteristic of
    you are your signature strengths
  • When wellbeing comes from engaging our strengths
    and virtues, our lives are imbued with

Change in emphasis for developmental activity
There is a growing awareness that peoples
potential for performance and performance
improvement lies in maximising and capitalising
on their strengths and finding work arounds for
their weaknesses, rather than trying to create an
ideal rounded person.
Assumptions of appreciative inquiry
  • In every society, organisation or group,
    something works
  • Every living system has untapped and rich
    inspiring accounts of the positive
  • The act of asking a question influences in some
  • What we focus on becomes our reality
  • The language we use creates our reality

Assumptions of appreciative inquiry
  • People have more confidence and comfort to
    journey to the future when they carry forward
    parts of the past
  • If we carry parts of the past forward, they
    should be what is best about the past
  • It is important to value difference
  • The way we know people, groups and organisations
    is fateful
  • (Hammond 1996)

The four D model
  • Affirmative topics, always homegrown, can be
    anything the people in the organisation feel
    gives life to the system
  • Discovery Discover and disclose positive
  • Dreaming A sense of how things could be
  • Design Creation of the ideal organisation
  • Destiny An inspired movement

Appreciative Inquiry
Discover and Value the best of what is
Affirmative Topic Choice
Destiny What will be
Dreaming What might be
Design through Dialogue What should be
  • Identifying the best of what is, what works
  • Creating and amplifying accounts of the good, of
    peak experiences
  • Affirming good things (by paying attention,
  • Creating data
  • Creating a launch pad for the future
  • Creating strategic possibilities
  • Generating hope and other good emotions

The appreciative interview
  • In pairs
  • Each - identify a specific event or episode when
    you feel you really made a difference, when you
    were working at your best.
  • Interview each other to re-create that
    experience What? How? Who else? Where? Tell me
    more. Feelings, talk, noticing, How did it make a
    difference? And so on - rich experience.
    Description not explanation
  • When have both had your turn - reflections - what
    do you notice about the experience you have just
    had? How did you feel in both roles? What effect
    did it have for you reconnecting with a positive

In groups of four How is this appreciative
interview process relevant to the challenges of
coaching or individual performance improvement?
  • Imagining possible futures, in detail (positive
    anticipatory images)
  • Using discovery launch pad
  • Creative not deductive
  • Creating possibility, creating data, creating
  • Shared positive experience
  • Exploring strategic possibilities

A dreaming experience
  • In pairs
  • Interview each other about How things could be?
  • Essentially you are asking How would your
    life/world/organisation/team be if more of the
    good things weve been talking about were
    happening more of the time?
  • Imagine you are a journalist doing a Day in the
    life of interview
  • You are working to build a really rich picture of
    this imaginary future. You are seeking
  • Usually about 2 years on seems to work, so start
    by setting the time So its the 24th of May

In groups of four How is this dreaming process
relevant to the challenges of coaching or
individual performance improvement?
  • Linking future and present
  • Creating paths or accounts of connection
  • What are we doing now that points towards that
  • If we were like that, how would we be organized?
  • What can we do now, what can I do now?
  • Generating strategic intent
  • Positive energy for change excitement, hope,

  • In pairs
  • Re-establish yourselves in 2008
  • You are working to establish a created ladder
    between back then and now
  • Youre role is to help your person establish a 2
    year looking back perspective
  • Ask questions such as what was the first thing
    you noticed? What do you find yourself doing less
    of/more of, now than then? Who was the first
    person to get excited about the possiblities?
  • Try to create about 3 first ladder steps

  • Releasing, channeling, facilitating energy into
    forward actions
  • Appreciating social nature of change, working
    with energy and flow - creative messiness
  • Achieving coherence and co-ordination (not
    control and constriction)
  • Appropriate processes of coherence (story, story
    board, action plan, provocative propositions)
  • Appropriate processes of co-ordination
    (communication, relationship, working parties,
  • Living strategy

Appreciative inquiry and change
  • The key to creating change in the organisation
    is creating new theories /ideas/images that enter
    the everyday language of system members
  • (Bushe 2001)

  • A Team Intervention

Team in Trouble
Six in team Not for profit professional
  • Under threat of outsourcing
  • High turnover
  • Lack of clear induction
  • Unfair work distribution
  • Nothing improves
  • Difficulty making and implementing decisions
  • Factors outside control
  • Poor performance
  • Poor leadership
  • Poor morale
  • Feeling angry and upset
  • Expressed intentions to leave
  • Not working as a team
  • Working reactively

Discovery 1
  • Appreciation
  • When is the events team at its best?
  • When are you at your best, in the context of the
    team and its work?
  • Who or what else affects how well the team can do
    its work?
  • How does the team know when it has been
    successful? And who else knows?
  • Changes
  • In your view, what have been the significant
    changes for the team over the last however long
  • What changes would you like to see?
  • Who else might like to see changes and what

Discovery 1
  • Future
  • What do you think is going to happen in the
  • What, in your opinion does the team need to do
    differently to ensure the best possible future?
  • Current times
  • What do you consider to be the most significant
    issues for the team at the moment?
  • How would you like the team to view you?
  • Other things
  • What else do I need to know to be able to
    effectively help this team work together more
  • Note Not asked what is wrong and who is to

Contracted Focus
  • Establishing proactive and positive leadership
    and management (people, processes, customers,
    boundaries, work)
  • Developing a sharper and empowering sense of
    purpose, aspiration and value
  • Clarify issues of autonomy, group co-ordination
    and team work
  • Recognizing, registering and broadcasting success

Discovery Two With everyone
  • Moving the answer to the question How come I am
    working this hard and feel this bad,? from
    personalities in team to something more
  • Getting ready to work together
  • Appreciative interviews
  • Systemic mapping of system expectations and
    criteria for success
  • Identifying value add
  • Statements of purpose and vision
  • Individual commitments to change

  • A little more discovery. And re-discovery
  • Future interviewing
  • How would it be if more of these things were
    happening more of the time?
  • Future Features
  • (template for evaluation/measurement)

  • Backlighting Constructing ladders of account
  • Creating and sharing a story of change
  • The role of the leader

  • Starting again
  • Everything in the room. Reconnecting. Connecting
  • What should be done?
  • What will we do? A story of future action
  • Decision to delay

Evaluation 1
Objective Mode Oct 2002 Spread Oct 2002 Mode Oct 2003 Spread Oct 2003
Holding boundaries 3 2-4 6 2-10
Sharing knowledge and skill None 3-8 8 7-9
Importance of success 10 1-10 9 8-11
Fairness of work share None 2-7 6 3-10
Manager skills 5 3-5 6 4-7
Leadership skills 5 1-6 none 3-7
Evaluation 2
  • Sessions immediate effect but faded over time
  • Increased empowerment
  • Less frustration within team generally
  • Work wasnt always capitalized upon
  • Leader had become more effective, but more needed
  • Team meetings becoming more learning experiences
  • Team generally working together better
  • Outsourcing design work had been a good decision

Faciliation, Tips and issues
  • In small groups, discuss questions you would like
    to ask and select top 2
  • Topics you might like to consider could include
  • Contracting
  • Getting started
  • Choosing the appreciative topic
  • Developing an appreciative ear and vocabulary
  • Counter indicators

My practice
  • On your own or in pairs, consider how you might
    take your learning today into your own practice.
    Be ready to share this in a moment

Research into AI What matters most?
  • The power of positive questions
  • The appreciative inquiry interview
  • Story telling
  • Future vision/ provocative propositions
  • Positive image
  • Collaboration/co-constructing/common ground
  • Anticipatory principle
  • Continuity
  • Replacing deficit discourse
  • (Yaeger and Sorensen 2001)

Appreciative Process
  • Discovering the best of
  • Understanding what creates the best of
  • Amplifying the people and processes who best
    exemplify the best of
  • Giving attention to what is working well
  • Watching for what you want to see
  • Amplifying it when you see it

AI processes Amplification
  • Amplifying the data
  • Quality of stories told (new telling, new
  • Recording of stories told - rich in detail, own
  • Sharing of stories told
  • Thematic feedback documents
  • Video
  • Amplifying the findings/outcomes proposals
  • Surveys
  • Feedback on surveys

Appreciative inquiry language
  • Talk as a medium to achieve change
  • The placing of attention
  • The sense created by talk
  • The research question is the intervention and
    is fateful and impactful

Different understanding of relation language and
  • Positivist
  • Linear Causality
  • Truth
  • Static meaning
  • Neutral
  • Fixed time
  • Objective universe
  • Scientific method based interventions
  • Constructionist
  • Circular Causality
  • Accounts
  • Dynamic meaning
  • Fateful
  • Possibility time
  • Socially constructed multiverse
  • Appreciative Inquiry Interventions

Attending to accounts
  • Voices
  • Positions
  • Perspectives
  • Authorship and narrators
  • Audience
  • Context
  • Image, feelings, metaphor

Role of consultant
  • Explorers not mechanics
  • Active agent not impartial bystander
  • Wordsmith
  • Collaborator
  • Generous, curious, appreciative, systemic

Implications for managers and leaders
  • The main task of management is meaning making and
    creating possibilities to go on
  • Organisations are networks of conversation in
    which accounts are created
  • More than one account can exist, none is the
    truth, all may be true
  • Conversation/communication contains moral order
  • Affect action through communication

Learning a Living Mission Statement
  • Joseph Le Doux 2003 The emotional Brain Phoenix
  • David Cooperrider, Suresh Srivastva (eds)1999
    Appreciative Management and Leadership Williams
    Custom Publishing
  • Sue Hammond1996 The thin book of appreciative
    inquiry Kodiak Consulting
  • Martin Seligman 2003 Authentic Happiness Nicholas
  • Alan Carr 2004 Positive Psychology Brunner-Routled
  • Mary Gergen and Kenneth Gergen (eds) 2003 Social
    Construction, a reader Sage
  • David Cooperrider, Peter Sorensen, Therese Yaeger
    and Diana Whitney (eds) 2001 Appreciative
    Inquiry an emerging direction for organisational
    development Stipes
  • Rita Carter 2003 Mapping the Mind Phoenix

Forthcoming Workshops Masterclasses
  • Insert details of forthcoming workshops