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Appreciative Inquiry. Summer Workshop 2008. Rating the Interview from 1-5. Overview of Appreciative Inquiry. What is Appreciative Inquiry?.

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Appreciative Inquiry

Summer Workshop 2008




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What is Appreciative Inquiry?

  • “Appreciative Inquiry is a form of transformational inquiry that selectively seeks to locate, highlight, and illuminate the life-giving forces of an organization’s existence.

  • It is the study and exploration of what gives life to human systems when they are at their best.

  • It is an organizational development methodology based on the assumption that inquiry into and dialogue about strengths, successes, values, hopes and dreams is itself transformational”.

    Cooperider, Whitney and Stavros 2008 – Appreciative Inquiry Handbook


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Origins of AI

  • Work of Cooperrider and Srivasta at Case Western Reserve Univ. early ‘80’s

  • Case of Cleveland Clinic: 2 approaches

  • 1. Mckinsey: collecting data about conflict in the hospital

  • 2. Cooperrider and Srivasta: carrying out interviews about best experiences working in the hospital


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Origins cont.

  • Cooperrider and Srivasta published seminal article in ‘87 critiquing action research and introducing AI as a theory of organizing and method for changing social systems.

  • Their breakthrough: social and psychological reality as a product of the moment, open to continuous reconstruction (as opposed to something fundamentally stable, enduring).


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Problem Solving

“Felt Need” Identification of the problem

Analysis of the Causes

Analysis of Solutions

Action Planning (treatment)

Basic Assumption: An organization is a problem to be solved.

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciating and Valuing the Best of “What Is”

“Envisioning “What might be”

Dialoguing: What should be”

Innovating: What will be”

Basic Assumption: An organization is a mystery (infinite capacity) to be embraced.

The Difference between the Two Paradigms


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Salient Features of Appreciative Inquiry

  • Seeks to discover, understand and foster innovation

  • Open ended interviewing techniques with minimal leading of the interviewee.

  • Questions that are positive in nature.

  • The focus is on “peak experiences”

  • What do you want more of?

  • Positive images, create positive futures.

  • We create the future that we imagine.


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Appreciative Inquiry

  • Begins with appreciation of the past and present;

  • Should be applicable (relevant, practical, useful)

  • Should be provocative (catalyzing questions provoke thinking and action)

  • Should be collaborative engaging the whole system into inquiry.

    Through grounded observation we collectively discover the best of what is.


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The Four D’s of Appreciative Inquiry

Affirmative topic choice


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5 Theories of Change Underlying AI (from Gervase Bushe)

  • 1. Social Construction of Reality

    • language actively shapes the world

    • new ideas are the most powerful force for change

  • 2. Heliotropic Hypothesis

    • social systems evolve toward positive self images


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Theories of Change cont.

  • 3. The Organization’s Inner Dialogue

    • stories told outside formal gatherings condition beliefs about what the organization is and what is possible

    • change the stories and you change the culture

  • 4. Resolving Paradoxical Dilemmas

    • social systems become stuck in undiscussable paradoxes that require “generative images” to offer ways out


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Theories of Change cont.

  • 5. Appreciative Process

    • we get more of whatever we pay attention to so focus on what you want and work on amplifying it


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Examples of Appreciative Inquiry

  • Imagine Chicago: 500 community leaders came together to discuss their relationship across race and ethnicity that are positive.

    AI Question: “What is the best inter-racial relationships you have ever had?”

  • Positive Deviance in Vietnam: Save the Children nutrition project.

    AI Question: “What are you feeding your children that keeps them so healthy?

  • Avon of Mexico: Used AI to move away from sexual harassment to look at the positive relationships women and men have had working together.

    AI Question: “What is the best male-female work relationship you have ever had ?”.



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Role of the Interviewer in AI approaches?

  • “The purpose of open-ended and unstructured interviewing is to find out what is in the interviewee’s head, not to put something there.

  • The task of the interviewer is to make it possible for the person being interviewed to bring the interviewer into his or her own world”

  • Create energy, rapport, insight.


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Role of the Interviewer approaches?

The Interviewer simply asks the question and lets the respondent answer, probing only for clarification, elucidation and depth.

AI question from Cornerstone:

“Tell me a story about a time when you really made a difference in a woman’s life?”


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Probes and Follow-up Questions approaches?

Three types of probes:

1) A conversational probe to get more detail

  • When did that happen?

  • Who else was involved?

  • How did that come about?

    2) An elaboration probe

  • Nod your head gently or say “uh-huh”

  • Would you elaborate on that

    3) A clarification probe

  • You need more information.

  • You said the programme was a success. What do you mean by “success”?

  • Let me ask you to repeat what you said so that I can get your exact thoughts.

  • Tell me how you made a difference?


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Let’s try it approaches?

  • Exercise: 10 minutes per person.

  • Think back to an experience when you worked in a team.

  • Question: Tell me your best experience ever participating in a team?

    Probing Questions:

  • Describe how you felt, and what you and others did to make the situation possible?

  • How did you contribute to this peak experience?

  • What made this experience so special?

  • Describe its impact.


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Types of Appreciative Questions approaches?

  • What do you value most about your participation in the programme?

  • Define three concrete wishes you have for the future of the programme?

  • What is your peak experience with the organization?

  • Can you tell me a story about some experiences you had with Schoolpower that was particularly heartwarming?

  • Is there now, or has there ever been a person of another race whom you would describe as having had a significant positive impact on your life?


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What Makes an Appreciative Question approaches?

A Powerful Question:

  • Is simple and clear;

  • Is thought provoking;

  • Generates energy;

  • Focuses inquiry;

  • Opens new possibilities;

  • Looks for something you want more of.


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Exercise: Appreciative Questions vs Non-Appreciative Questions

  • Sort the group of statements into two categories: appreciative questions vs non-appreciative questions.

  • Make 3 appreciative questions around your learning project.

  • Are your questions simple, concise, provoking and energizing?



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Underlying Assumptions around Appreciative Inquiry Questions

  • “In every society, organization, or group something works.

  • What we focus on becomes our reality.

  • The act of asking questions of the organization or group, influences the group in some way.

  • People have more confidence and comfort to journey to the future (the unknown) when they carry forward parts of the past (the known)

    Hammond, Sue Annis. “The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry”, pp.20-21.


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Steps in Appreciative Methodology Questions

1. Choosing the affirmative question.

2. Undertaking appreciative interviews. Hearing the stories.

3. Write-ups. Writing up the story.

4. Looking for patterns, trends and gems.

5. Evoking provocative propositions.

  • Validating and disseminating the propositions.

  • Go forward to design and deliver.



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Different Roles Questions

Interviewee: tells the story

Notetaker: Writes up the story in the first person. Reads it back to the interviewee to make sure everything is captured.

Interviewer/Facilitator: Asks the question and probes


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Some details Questions

  • When you write up your story make sure to put the following at the top of the page:

  • -Interviewee:__________________

  • -Interviewed by:________________

  • -Written by:___________________

    Always write-up the story in the first person using I, as if you were speaking yourself.


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Interviewing in Triads Questions

  • Overall Inquiry: Your learning project question?

  • Tell me a story (specific) about how you or someone you know …?

  • What made this experience so special?

  • Describe its impact.

  • (20 mins. Interviewing, 5 mins feedback, 5 minutes recorder asks questions)

  • Switch roles.


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What can AI results be used for: Questions

  • Vision statement for an organization,group, team, community

  • Defining an objective or results for a project

  • Re-energize the workplace, team etc. to decide how they want to work together

  • Use experience to introduce AI into daily approach

  • As beginning of a planning process then move to OS, RBM etc.


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Articulating Provocative Propositions Questions

  • Provocation propositions are statements that bridge “the best of what is or has been” and one’s speculation about “what might be”.

  • Challenge the status quo by expanding the realm of the possible.

  • Construct a proposition about what is possible. State the proposition in affirmative language—as if the proposition were already true and happening at the current time.


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Examples of Provocative Propositions Questions

  • A common vision helps give all members a feeling of significance, purpose, pride and unity.

  • In a truly inclusive organization, people feel as if they are the owners of the organization.

  • Ultimate authority is derived from the consent of others.

  • Leadership is inspirational and participative.

  • There is an organizational and individual commitment to life long learning.


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Create Metaphors Questions

  • This is the metaphor for how consultant’s can improve the world, at the end of a 1.5 day inquiry:

    The Ship of Inspiration

  • We improve the world by getting in the boat with our clients. The voyage begins with inspiration and one single step. The possessions we bring are trust that the clients know what they want, trust in the process, commitment, curiosity, resource, skills, willingness to take risks. We ride the waves and use our intuition to know when to take the helm, when to teach and when to let others sail the boat. The purpose of the voyage is to discover new oceans. The waves can be rough and the wind can take us to places we never thought we would go. And the journey never ends …


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Mission Statement Questions

  • We in UNICEF share a common vision to serve the children and women in Yemen and work within a team that gives all members a sense of inclusion, harmony, equality, appreciation, and motivation because each of us leads by example. We are the team which has the ability to make decisions for positive and innovative change because we practice constructive communication. We are committed and work within the spirit of mutual trust and accountability, and believe in responsible and transparent leadership that can be gained by respect, participation, equality, and acknowledgement.


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Exercise: the Analysis Questions

Read each text out loud:

  • Listen for patterns, themes and categories that will emerge from the data.

  • List key ideas and concepts. Make notes on flipchart. After the first read, go back and reread the marked sections. Give each of them a one or two word description.

  • Look for similarities and differences between the categories.

  • Now share your findings with your group. Compare them.

  • Create provocative statements, result statements, metaphors or a drawing that focus on the meaning, underlying motivations and spirit that bring people together around your theme.


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Annex Questions

  • Summary sheet on appreciative inquiry

  • Pre-Interview letter

  • Analyzing qualitative data


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For More Information: Questions Appreciative Inquiry Commons, http://ai.cwru.eduPurpose:To accelerate positive change in organizations and communities by involving a broad range of internal and external stakeholders in the change process in real time. Outcomes: • Energizes the organization by putting the focus on strengths and potentials (rather than deficits and deficiencies) • Generates innovation by connecting people in new configurations around promising ideas • Builds leadership at all levels by involving everyone in envisioning, designing, and implementing change When to Use:• When you want to engage people, capitalize on their best thinking, and mobilize the entire organization quickly around a strategic change agenda When Not to Use:• When leaders are not committed to full engagement, positive dialogue, and innovation throughout the organization

Summary Sheet

  • Appreciative Inquiry Summit For More Information: Appreciative Inquiry Commons, http://ai.cwru.eduPurpose:To accelerate positive change in organizations and communities by involving a broad range of internal and external stakeholders in the change process in real time. Outcomes: • Energizes the organization by putting the focus on strengths and potentials (rather than deficits and deficiencies) • Generates innovation by connecting people in new configurations around promising ideas • Builds leadership at all levels by involving everyone in envisioning, designing, and implementing change When to Use:• When you want to engage people, capitalize on their best thinking, and mobilize the entire organization quickly around a strategic change agenda When Not to Use:• When leaders are not committed to full engagement, positive dialogue, and innovation throughout the organization


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Preparing the Pre-Interview Letter Questions

  • Upbeat and thought provoking

  • Provides the context.

  • What will you do with the information.

  • What will the interview focus on– the key questions.


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Underlying Assumptions around Appreciative Inquiry Questions

  • “In every society, organization, or group something works.

  • What we focus on becomes our reality.

  • Reality is created in the moment, and there are multiple realities.

  • The act of asking questions of the organization or group, influences the group in some way.

  • People have more confidence and comfort to journey to the future (the unknown) when they carry forward parts of the past (the known)

  • If we carry part of the past forward, they should be what is best about the past.

  • The language we use creates our reality.”

    Hammond, Sue Annis. “The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry”, pp.20-21.


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