Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a positive, strength-based alternative to problem solving as a means of initiating and managing change in organizations. It has been called "The study of what gives life to human systems when they are functioning at their best." In many cases where it has been skillfully facilitated, it has produced spectacular results in positively transforming organizational cultures.
Why Should I be Interested?
Taking your organization through an Appreciative Inquiry can give you three sources of strategic advantage by :
fully engaging the energy and talent of your existing work force
speeding up your ability to implement positive innovations
creating an organizational culture that attracts the best and the brightest talent to it.
What's it Good For?
Used around the world, including in some of the world’s largest companies, non-profits and government organizations, AI has proven to be effective in:
improving profitability using multiple approaches
improving labour/management relations and facilitating collaboration
transforming work climates from negative to positive
building common vision where one did not exist
creating openness and rapport among people and groups who were previously in conflict with each other
building effective teams and speeding up their growth
empowering previously “disenfranchised” groups.
Why Does It Work So Well?
Speed: Traditional change initiatives may use a top down, bottom up, representational cross section, or pilot projects approach. In each case a small group has to coerce or cajole the “whole” into accepting and implementing the change. With AI, the process is holistic and inclusive from the beginning. At the conclusion of an AI summit, for example, everyone is on the same page, energized and committed to the ideal future for their organization, having had a role in imagining that future. Therefore there is substantial momentum at the end of the process and major changes can then happen very quickly .
Enthusiasm, Commitment and Positive Energy: Because AI is positive and connects people to what they value most about their work and their organizations and themselves, it generates positive energy for change. Contrast this with a “problem focus” which drains the energy out of people. AI leaves people willing and eager to bring about the changes they have helped to identify as desirable.
The Scientific Foundations of AI: The five principles of AI rest on a solid foundation of scientific theory and observation.
The Liberation of Employee Potential: A lot of companies pay lip service to getting the most out of their employees’ potential to contribute to the organization. AI actually gives you a practical means for accomplishing this, and once you do it, you will be amazed at what happens next!
Jim with his co-presenters Rachelle McComb (staff) and Valdene Callin (board member) from Red Deer Public Library following their enthusiastically received presentation at the Alberta Library Conference, Jasper, Alberta April 26th, 2008.
At the Left
Drumming up some enthusiasm for Appreciative Inquiry at the Vitalize Provincial Conference, June 5th, 2009.
At the Right
Looks like I succeeded! (At least with myself!)
Learning a young person's vision for the ideal future of Mill Woods United Church.
Edmonton, AB May 30th, 2010.
Presenting at a Mentoring Breakfast for the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce.