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Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry


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Title: Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry

Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry
  • Sarah Lewis

Appreciative Inquiry
  • What is it and whats new about it?
  • How does it work?
  • How do you do it?
  • What are the implications for practice?

What is it?
  • Theory and practice of organisational change
  • That grew out of a dissatisfaction with Action
  • Post modern in its ontological and
    epistemological base
  • David Cooperrider, Suresh Srivastva

So whats new in appreciative inquiry?
  • Organisations as the triumph of the human
  • Organisations as products of human interaction
    and mind
  • Not how things go wrong - isnt it amazing they
    work at all
  • The move from deficit language to life centric
  • From vocabularies of human deficit to
    vocabularies of hope
  • Organisations dont need fixing, need constant

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.

Appreciative Inquiry Problem Solving
  • Problem solving
  • Felt need identification of problem
  • Analysis of causes
  • Analysis of possible solutions
  • Action planning (treatment)
  • Basic assumption organisation is a problem to be
  • Appreciative inquiry
  • Appreciating and valuing the best of what is
  • Envisioning what might be
  • Dialoguing what should be
  • Innovating what will be
  • Basic assumption organisation is a mystery to be

Hammond 1996
Appreciative inquiry principles
  • The constructionist principle
  • The simultaneity principle
  • The poetic principle
  • The anticipatory principle
  • The positive principle

Assumptions of appreciative inquiry
  • In every society, organisation or group,
    something works
  • What we focus on becomes our reality
  • Reality is created in the moment and there are
    multiple realities
  • The act of asking a question influences in some
  • People have more confidence and comfort to
    journey to the future when they carry forward
    parts of the past

Assumptions of appreciative inquiry
  • If we carry parts of the past forward, they
    should be what is best about the past
  • It is important to value difference
  • The language we use creates our reality
  • (Hammond 1996)

How does appreciative inquiry make a difference?
  • Through appreciating organisations as living
  • Through attending to the creative process as
    opposed to the curative
  • Through recognizing mental processes as causal
  • Though recognizing organisation as a miracle of
    cooperative human interaction
  • Through language
  • Through social innovation

Affirmative Topic of Inquiry, Questions, and
  • Theory provides a perceptual framework
  • Choice of what to study carries a degree of
  • Language and words are the building blocks of
    social reality
  • Not a passive purveyor of meaning between people,
    rather, an agent active in the creation of
  • Knowledge of a system can be used to change itself

The four D model
  • Identify those peak times when things were at
    their best
  • What factors were behind the peak experiences
  • What intervention will make the peak experience
    the norm?
  • Affirmative topics, always homegrown, can be on
    anything the people in the organisation feel
    gives life to the system

The four D model
  • 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 (co-construct the future) What will be
Dreaming (envisioning the future) What might be
Design through Dialogue What should be
The appreciative interview
  • In pairs
  • Each - identify a specific event when you feel
    you really made a difference, a really special
  • Interview each other to re-create that
    experience What? How? Who else? Feelings, talk,
    noticing, How did it make a difference? And so on
    - rich experience
  • What was different in that situation to other
    similar situations where you werent able to make
    such a difference?
  • When have both had your turn - reflections - what
    do you notice about the experience you have just

Benedictine University
  • Traditional academic culture
  • Ill equipped to respond to demands for change
  • Strategic planning - culture change
  • Decision to use Faculty meeting/ AI
  • All 86 staff new and returning
  • High level of participation
  • Pursuit of an ideal
  • Grounded in research
  • Mutual interviewing

Benedictine University
  • Recorded
  • Shaped in core values
  • Learning
  • Speed at which able to capture data from all
  • Focus on positive possible produced upbeat
  • Cynicism set aside, transcending problems,
    celebrating strengths
  • Process on going

Quantitative research
  • Fortune 500, 94 fast food restaurants, one area
  • Problem retention salaried restaurant staff
  • 3 groups AI, normal problem solving, nothing
  • One year collecting base line data - turnover
  • 18 months intervention.
  • One AI meeting a month each restaurant
  • Three meeting each general manager
  • One roundtable wash-up

  • AI group 30 higher retention than normal group
  • AI group 32 higher retention than nothing
  • Al group less inclined to leave
  • 103,320 savings in hard training dollars
  • Confounding factor - leadership

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

  • Stories
  • Quality of stories told (new telling, new
  • Recording of stories told - rich in detail, own
  • Sharing of stories told
  • Thematic feedback documents
  • Video
  • Propositions - capturing the elements
  • Surveys
  • Feedback on surveys

How does this connect with what Im doing?
  • In small groups
  • Thinking
  • Spending my time
  • Hoping
  • Planning
  • Dreaming
  • Feedback - existing points of connection

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

Organisation post modern understanding of
  • Language and talk is contextful
  • Language and talk are fateful
  • Socially constructed world
  • Language is action
  • The future is created in the present
  • Talk creates affordances and constraints

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)

Role of consultant
  • Creative not curative
  • Focusing on what works, seeking the best
  • Working with stories, language, words, emotions,
  • Affecting relationship and belief systems of
    meaning and action
  • Generous, curious, appreciative, systemic
    helping create useful accounts in the present
    about the past to enhance the future

Implications for managers and leaders
  • What you look for is what you will find
  • What you talk about is what you will create
  • More than one account can exist, none is the
    truth, all may be true
  • Conversation/communication contains moral order
  • Affect action through communication
  • Pull is more powerful than push
  • Emotion, belief and values are the bedrock of
  • I want (desire) is more generative than I
    must (compulsion)

How will I use this, if at all?
Sarah Lewis Jemstone Consultancy 020 8293
0017 www.jems
Thank you