When problems present themselves within an organization, an inquiry will be carried out first to find out what could be the cause of these problems, and subsequently these problems are solved. In Appreciate Inquiry it is all about the reverse process and here the emphasis is on positive change. The process of appreciate inquiry examines what brings out the best in people. As a specialist in the area of organizational behaviour, professor Cooperrider researched the effect within organizations for this alternative approach to problem-solving.
In order to understand the so-called success factors of an organization, Cooperrider developed a structured process named Appreciative Inquiry. All success factors together form the ‘positive core’ of an organization. The stronger this positives core, the better an organization is able to cope with all kinds of problems. Appreciative Inquiry is oriented towards the controversial areas of positive psychology and karma (flow) and underlines all plusses of an organization instead of focusing on all of its failures.
Appreciative Inquiry: better understanding
A condition of Appreciative Inquiry is the ‘provoking’ term of reference. By departing from a traditional term of reference, one can arrive at surprising perceptions and these help employees find their strengths and that of the organization. In this whole process of appreciative inquiry there are five stages:
- Affirmative Topic Choice – The employees are interviewed by means of stimulating questions. Themes are chosen from the answers and they will serve as focus areas.
- Discovery – From the above-mentioned themes sub-themes are crystallized that reflect the success factors (positive core) of the organization.
- Dream – By means of creative processes, creative solutions are looked for to change the organization in a positive way. It is about quantity of both usable and non-usable ideas, in which the release of creativity is the key element.
- Design – How is the structure of the organization built up and classified? With the help of provoking statements, employees are obliged to formulate broad targets and ideas with the optimization of the organization in mind.
- Destiny – By using the earlier stages, concrete plans will now be made and clear objectives will be formulated. The positive core serves as a guideline in this.
Appreciative Inquiry: evolutionary process
The stages of appreciative inquiry imitate the evolutionary process in many ways. The evolutionary process too is brought about by a selection of the most successful elements, that lay the foundations for the next stage in the development. Except, in order to optimize companies, Appreciative Inquiry is also used for coaching and consultancy processes. It is a simple and pleasant way to come to an understanding of all positive qualities.
- Barrett, F.J. & Fry, R.E. (2005). Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Approach to Building Cooperative Capacity. Chagrin Falls, OH: Taos Institute.
- Cooperrider, D.L., Whitney, D. and Stavros, J.M. (2008). Appreciative Inquiry Handbook (2nd ed.). Brunswick, OH: Crown Custom Publishing.
- Lewis, S., Passmore, J. & Cantore, S. (2008). The Appreciative Inquiry Approach to Change Management. London, UK: Kogan Paul.
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