Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry - toolshero

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This article explains Appreciative Inquiry, developed by David Cooperrider in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful leadership tool.

Appreciative Inquiry

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, David Cooperrider researched the effect within organizations for this alternative approach to problem-solving.

Appreciative Inquiry : Success factors

In order to understand the so-called success factors of an organization, David 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 pluses of an organization instead of focusing on all of its failures.

Appreciative Inquiry for better understanding

A condition 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:

Appreciative inquiry by David Cooperrider - toolshero

1. 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.

2. Discovery

From the above-mentioned themes sub-themes are crystallized that reflect the success factors (positive core) of the organization.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 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.

It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Is Appreciative Inquiry still applicable in today’s modern economy and management organizations? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have more suggestions? What are your success factors for the creation of a positive core of an organization?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

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More information:

  1. Barrett, F.J. & Fry, R.E. (2005). Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Approach to Building Cooperative Capacity. Taos Institute.
  2. Cooperrider, D.L., Whitney, D. and Stavros, J.M. (2008). Appreciative Inquiry Handbook. Crown Publishing Group.
  3. Lewis, S., Passmore, J. & Cantore, S. (2008). The Appreciative Inquiry Approach to Change Management. Kogan Page.

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