For consistent growth of a company it requires effective change management.
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Appreciative inquiry is a model for change management developed by David L. Cooperrider, Ph.D., a professor at Case Western University. The name combines two definitions:
- Appreciate: to look for the best in something, and to increase something in value.
- Inquiry means to seek understanding using a process based on provocative questions.
Based on the meanings of the two words, AI theorises that organisations are not problems to be solved. Rather, each organisation has been created as a solution, designed in its own time, to meet a challenge, or to satisfy a need within society.
A guiding principle in appreciative inquiry is the concept of the positive core, or what gives life to an organisation. Below is a list of elements that make up a positive core.
Achievements, strategic opportunities, cooperative moments, technical assets, innovations, elevated thoughts, community assets, positive emotions, financial assets, community wisdom, core competencies, visions of possibility, vital traditions and values, positive macro trends, social capital, and embedded knowledge.
The Four Stages
The four stages in the Appreciative Inquiry model are known as the 4-D cycle. They are:
- Discovery: Mobilizing the whole system by engaging all stakeholders in the articulation of strengths and best practices. Identifying “The best of what has been and what is.”
- Dream: Creating a clear results-oriented vision in relation to discovered potential and in relation to questions of higher purpose, such as “What does the world call us to become?”
- Design: Creating possibility propositions of the idea organisation, articulating an organisation design that is capable of drawing upon and magnifying the positive core to realise the newly expressed dream.
- Destiny: Strengthening the affirmative capability of the whole system, enabling it to build hope and sustain momentum for ongoing positive change and high performance.
Various types of questions help elicit feedback and ideas during the process:
- What’s the biggest problem here?
- Why do we still have those problems?
- What possibilities exist that we have not yet considered?
- What’s the smallest change that could make the biggest impact?
- What solutions would have us both win?
Topics emerge from interviews with people throughout the organisation in several ways.
- Preliminary interviews are held within the organisation at its best levels
- A cross-section of people throughout the organisation are engaged in inquiry
- People are challenged to shift deficit (negative) issues into affirmative (positive) topics for inquiry.
The Purposes of Appreciative Inquiry
Appreciative inquiry is conducted in organisations for several reasons.
- It allows the performance of people from across the whole system to participate in an inquiry; all stakeholders (employees, customers, vendors, and interested community members) are involved in the process.
- It leads to the design of appreciative organisations that can support stakeholders fostering a triple bottom line; people, profits, and planet.
- It serves as a catalyst for the transformation of an organisational culture.
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