Why every change agent needs appreciative inquiry

What does appreciative inquiry mean?

  • Valuing, recognizing the best in the people or the world around us.
  • Affirming past en present strengths, successes and opportunities
  • To increase in value (something has appreciated in value)

Synonymous: value, esteem, prize and honor

  • Exploring and discovering
  • To ask questions
  • To be open to new possibilities

Synonymous: discover, search, systematically explore, study

What makes appreciative inquiry different?

Most management philosophies focus on fixing what is wrong and let the strengths take care of themselves. What if we start working from the presumption that our organizations have an infinite constructive capacity to grow?

Quote by David Cooperrider

What is appreciative inquiry?

It is the co-operative, co-evolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations and the world around them. It involves systematic discovery of what gives life to an organization or a community when it is most effective.

Why do I like appreciative inquiry?

I like the attention it gives to the power of narratives. When change does not succeed it usually not about tools or even skills, usually it is about what people tell each other about this change.

I also like to see what happens with people when you ask them strength based questions. You see them being taken by surprise (“Are you not here to see what I can do better/did wrong?”). When they start talking you see them grow and glow.

The strength based approach gives a change agent a lot to work with. It tells you what is needed to make an organization work at it’s best level.

At first I was a bit apprehensive about this approach. It felt like there was a lot of happy feelings to it, but not a systematic approach to improvement. This apprehension proved to be wrong. I will take you on a journey through the tools and practices of appreciative inquiry in my next blogs. You will see that appreciative inquiry is a systematic approach with the purpose to build on your strengths. It provides you with an extra toolset to get to the same type of improvements.

Succes stories

Here are some succes stories for appreciative inquiry

As you can see in the examples results are achieved on hard and soft kpi’s. One of the best resources for appreciative inquiry is of course the website and books of David Cooperrider.

If you want to know more you can also listen to my podcast on appreciative inquiry.

The appreciative interview
Book appreciative inquiry handbook by Cooperrider, Whitney and stavros
Book by Cooperrider and Whitney appreciative inquiry a positive revolution in change

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