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An introduction to Appreciative Inquiry. Sarah Lewis. Content. What Appreciative Inquiry is and isn’t The organisational metaphor of Appreciative Inquiry Appreciative inquiry interviewing Dreaming the future The effect of positive affect Uses of appreciative interviewing The 4D model

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Presentation Transcript
  • What Appreciative Inquiry is and isn’t
  • The organisational metaphor of Appreciative Inquiry
  • Appreciative inquiry interviewing
  • Dreaming the future
  • The effect of positive affect
  • Uses of appreciative interviewing
  • The 4D model
  • Implications for leaders and managers

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what is appreciative inquiry
What is Appreciative Inquiry?
  • An approach to achieving change in organisations
  • A specific methodology: 4D
  • A flexible and versatile process
  • An alternative to the standard approach to organisational problem solving and development

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what is it not
What is it not?
  • Not scientific
  • Not an N-step recipe for success
  • Not a mechanical process

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contrast to scientific mode
Scientific perspective

Objectivist: There is an objective universe more or less separate from and independent of the observer

Positivist: Privileges the physically observable

Reductionist: Reduce higher order phenomena to elements (the parts)

Fixed accounts

Appreciative Inquiry perspective

Constructionist: The universe is socially constructed. We can never see the world ‘as it really is’

Holistic: Rejects dualistic understandings, gives credence to mental causality, social dynamics

Connective: Interested in the connections between elements and complex patterns (the sum)

Generative accounts

Contrast to Scientific Mode

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how is it different
How is it different?

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appreciative inquiry problem solving
Problem solving

Identification of the problem

Analysis of causes

Analysis of possible solutions

Action planning (treatment)

Basic assumption: organisation is a problem to be solved

Appreciative inquiry

Appreciating the best of what is

Imagining what might be

Discussing what should be

Innovating what will be

Basic assumption: organisation is a mystery to be embraced.

Appreciative Inquiry & Problem Solving

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the organisational metaphor the organisation as a living human system
The organisational metaphor: the organisation as a living human system

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the appreciative interview
The appreciative interview

In pairs

  • Each - identify a specific event or episode when you feel you really made a difference, when you were working at your best.
  • Interview each other to re-create that experience: What? How? Who else? Where? Tell me more. Feelings, talk, noticing, How did it make a difference? And so on - rich experience. Description not explanation
  • When have both had your turn - reflections - what do you notice about the experience you have just had? How did you feel in both roles? What effect did it have for you reconnecting with a positive experience?

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assumptions of appreciative inquiry
Assumptions of appreciative inquiry
  • In every society, organisation 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 a question influences in some way
  • People have more confidence and comfort to journey to the future when they carry forward parts of the past

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assumptions of appreciative inquiry11
Assumptions of appreciative inquiry
  • If we carry parts of the past forward, they should be what is best about the past
  • It is important to value difference
  • The language we use creates our reality

(Hammond 1996)

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a dreaming experience
A dreaming experience

In pairs

  • Interview each other about ‘How things could be?’
  • Essentially you are asking ‘How would your life/world/organisation/team be if more of the good things we’ve been talking about were happening more of the time?’
  • Imagine you are a journalist doing a ‘Day in the life of” interview
  • You are working to build a really rich picture of this imaginary future. You are seeking description
  • Usually about 2 years on seems to work, so start by setting the time ‘ So it’s the 19th of Jan 2009….’

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effect of positive affect on living human systems
Effect of positive affect on living human systems
  • Long-term: correlated with many desirable outcomes: longevity, health, life satisfaction
  • Short-term: Fredrickson Broaden and build theory
    • More playful, exploratory, integrative
    • Preference for variety
    • Access to a bigger range of behaviour
    • More able intellectually to deal with complexity and diversity
    • Can cope better with chronic stress

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ways to use ai interviews
Ways to use AI interviews
  • To create positive affect
  • To access resource - increase group resourcefulness
  • To discover differences that make a difference
  • To boost confidence (naming of abilities)
  • To change the world

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appreciative inquiry
Appreciative Inquiry

Discover and Value

‘the best of what is’

Affirmative Topic Choice


‘What will be’


‘What might be’

Design through Dialogue

‘What should be’

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implications for managers leaders
Implications for managers & leaders
  • Organisations are networks of conversation in which accounts are created
  • More than one account can exist: Accounts are resources
  • The main task of management and leadership is working with accounts creating possibilities for change
  • The ‘tools’ for change are talk, belief, accounts, imagination, relationships and emotions
  • Positive affect positively affects organisational possibilities

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thank you

Thank you

Sarah Lewis