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ICVET. TAFE NSW International Centre for VET Teaching and Learning. Appreciative Inquiry : a way of creating new possibilities together TAFE NSW – Sydney Institute 30 November 2007 Sydney. Maret Staron. Ph 02 9244 5111  Fax 02 9244 5925  Email icvet@tafensw.edu.au

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TAFE NSW International Centre for VET Teaching and Learning

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TAFE NSW International Centrefor VETTeaching and Learning

Appreciative Inquiry: a way of creating new possibilities togetherTAFE NSW – Sydney Institute30 November2007Sydney

Maret Staron

Ph 02 9244 5111  Fax 02 9244 5925  Email icvet@tafensw.edu.au

Level 4, 1 Oxford Street, DARLINGHURST NSW 2010

Strong synergies between key focus areas

Sustainability –

The overriding principle

  • Common elements across all areas:

  • Capability development

  • Strength based approaches

  • Professional judgement

  • Culture change

Workplace learning – the context

Life based learning –

a contemporary model that supports

RPL – the ‘hidden’ capability

Partnerships – the relationship

Innovation – the cutting edge

Strategies such as

World Café(Whole Systems)

Open Space Technology(Harrison Owen)

Appreciative Inquiry(David Cooperrider)

Strategic Conversations(2nd Road)

Are each different – having their own unique methodologies

However, they do have certain things in common, eg

Strength based in nature (keep an eye out for deficit based language)

Participants may identify themes, issues, opportunities and take responsibility for action

Conversations are a key element

Conversations as catalysts for change

Other more traditional approaches may not be strength based, but can be realigned:

  • Communities of Practice

  • Action learning

  • Mentoring

  • Strategic questioning, etc

Celebrating what’s right with people and building on that

The positive aspects of human experience – what makes us thrive?

Enabling individuals and organisations to be the best they can be

Positive psychology

Authentic happiness

Signature strengths

Six universal virtues

Martin Seligman

Acknowledgement to Marie Jasinski for this slide


Recognising the best in people and the world around us

Affirming past and present strengths,successes, and potentials

To perceive those things that give life (health, vitality, and excellence) to living systems.


The act of exploration and discovery.

To ask questions; to be open to seeing new potentials and possibilities.

Appreciative Inquiry is about

David Cooperrider

Acknowledgement to Marie Jasinski for this slide

Choices in how we approach change and inquiry

Do we look for:




Do we look for:

Transformational cooperation

Inventive partnerships

Inquire into more stress

We create more stress

Inquire into more joy

We create more joy

Adapted from OvationNet – David Cooperrider

Appreciative Inquiry - simply put…

If we continue to search

for problems, we will

continue to find problems

If we look for what is

best and learn from it,

we can magnify and

multiply our successes

Acknowledgement to Marie Jasinski for this slide

AI is a 4-D Cycle


“What gives life to an organisation?”

The best of what is



“What might be?”




“How to empower, learn and improvise?”



“What should be –

the ideal?


Heliotropic Effect

Energising & orienting human behaviour toward achieving success

Acknowledgement to Marie Jasinski for this slide

  • AI recognises the power of

  • Images

  • determine behaviour of any organisation (Kenneth Boulding)

  • Imagination is more important than knowledge(Albert Einstein)

  • Human conversations

  • Human connectivity

    What image do you hold of yourself - or of your organisation – and do you act accordingly?

Adapted from OvationNet – David Cooperrider

As we cultivate more positive emotions in our lives, there are increases in our capacities

As we touch the strengths of positive emotions, those strengths reverse or eliminate past negative patterns

Upward spirals of change and resiliency are created when positive emotions are tapped

Findings from positive emotion studies

Adapted from OvationNet – David Cooperrider

Constructionist Principle

Human Knowledge and Organizational Destiny are Interwoven

The way we know the world determines where we end up

We are embedded in our organizational lives

Our analysis of organizations is filtered by the way we know the world

Principle of Simultaneity

Inquiry and change are NOT separate moments

Inquiry IS intervention

Our questions set the stage for what we find

The five principles of AI



Adapted from OvationNet – David Cooperrider

3. Open Book “Poetic” Principle

The five principles of AI (cont’d)

Organisations as machines to fix


Organisations as books to be interpreted

Hugovk http://flickr.com/photos/hugovk/238504436/

Daemonlip http://flickr.com/photos/daemonlip/581836060/

Adapted from OvationNet – David Cooperrider

Acknowledgement to Marie Jasinski for this slide

4.Anticipatory Principle

We create our organisations based on our anticipations of the future.

The image of the future guides the current behaviour in any system.

We all know the power of a positive image.

5. Positive principle

The more positive the question, the longer, more powerful and energised the change process.

Building and sustaining momentum for change requires large amounts of positive affect: hope, excitement, camaraderie, caring, joy of creating something meaningful together.

The five principles of AI (cont’d)


Adapted from OvationNet – David Cooperrider

Appreciate: the best of what exists, values and hopes for the future

Apply: knowledge of what works, what is possible

Provoke: imaginations re new ways of organising, creative improvements, ideas and proposals

Collaborate: collective capacity building, shared expertise , resources and participative decision making

In summary – the principles

The act of exploration and discovery

To ask questions; to be open to seeing new potentials and possibilities

Linking our inquiry to the change we want

AI is a 4-D Cycle

Appreciative question

Interviews data collected and analysed

Themes identified

AI summit

Based on themes

Further questions are posed to guide the dream, design and destiny phase

Phases of Appreciative Inquiry adapted from The Power of Appreciative Inquiry (Whitney and Trosten-Bloom, 2003)

(reproduced from the Life Based Learning Research Report page 66)

Acknowledgement to Marie Jasinski for this slide

6 – 8 people

or 500 people?

Working with change – what scale is most effective?

Adapted from OvationNet – David Cooperrider

The most significant aspect – choosing a topic

  • Topic selection

  • AI begins with development of a topic that will guide our inquiry and help us connect to the positive core

  • Since systems grow in the direction of our inquiries, topics become the seeds of the change we want to see happen

  • A topic can be transformational

  • Up to 3 topics are usually chosen to address one issue

Adapted from OvationNet – David Cooperrider

Low morale ormagnify and learn from moments of highest

engagement and enthusiasm

High turnover of staff or magnetic work environments

Impediments to culture change ordynamic business horizon

Customer complaints orrevolutionary customer response

Slow collaborative processes or lightening fast consensus

What would you rather inquire into?

Adapted from OvationNet – David Cooperrider


  • In pairs

  • Select an issue of importance to you or your organisation

  • Identify an affirmative topic that you would like to inquire into

Appreciative interviews – the heart of the matter

  • Use a lead-in to the interview questions – sets the scene

  • Hundreds can be involved in (one hour) interviews:

    • The data must be analysed, themes drawn and shared across the organisation

    • The data informs the dream, design and destiny phases across the whole organisation – where new questions are being asked

    • To engage people’s visions, design and commitment so that new actions and possibilities occur

  • Face to face is most effective for change

  • The questions are the catalyst for change


Pick a partner

A interviews B for 45 minutes. Not a conversation, an interview

Interviewer: Probe. Identify key themes. Take notes. Capture the positive core. Quotes.

Interviewee: Share your experience, expertise, ideas

Record as requested on sheet

Appreciative question excercise


Share your data

Identify: Key themes


A theme is a unifying or dominant idea or an

element common to most

It is not a summary of the conversation

Analyse, synthesise, record

Further information

Appreciative Inquiry Handbook – David. L.Cooperrider, Diana .L. Whitney, Jacqueline .M. Stavros

Appreciative InquirySummit – James .D. Ludeman, Diana .L. Whitney, Bernard .J. Mohr, Thomas .J. Griffin

The Encyclopaedia of Positive Questions – Dianne .J. Whitney, David .L. Copperrider, Brian .S. Kaplin, Amanda Trosten-Bloom

ICVET article on Appreciative Inquiry: seeing our organisations as living systems – Maret Staron – www.icvet.edu.au May-June eZine

Appreciative Inquiry Commons website


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