AI begins with appreciation – the inquiry starts with looking for the successes, values, talents and moments
of excellence that give energy to the organization. Inquiry looks at what is possible in a way that finds
information that can be used and applied. Inquiry should be provocative to ignite people to action,
innovation and creativity. Inquiry is also collaborative – it can connect hundreds or even thousands of
people to engage in discovering possibilities for the future.
Underlying Assumption of AI
Unlike problem-solving models that approach organizations as “problems to be solved”, AI assumes that
organizations are “solutions to be embraced”. Think about it - organizations were not created to be
problems. On the contrary, they were created to offer a solution or to meet a need.
The Appreciative Inquiry 4-D Model
AI starts with selecting an affirmative topic – not a “problem”. This is followed by Discovery (appreciating
and valuing), Dream (envisioning the possibilities), Design (co-constructing the future) and Destiny
(engaging, learning and improvising to sustain the future).
AI Builds Trust, Collaboration and Energy
AI minimizes resistance to change and the possibility of failure since those that have to make the changes
are involved in creating the vision and the strategy. Inquiring and appreciating strengths and successes
results in engaging and mobilizing the workforce to turn possibilities into realities. AI unleashes the
collective strengths and thinking of interdependent groups through greater involvement and collaboration –
and less hierarchy and bureaucracy.
Applications of AI
The principles and approach of AI can be used in so many aspects of organizational and community
development. Here are some possibilities – but there are so many more….
- Create Strategic Plans, Mission, Vision or Values: Imagine the power of using a process that is
based on success and capabilities and energizes people to be creative, innovative and inclusive.
- Merger Integration: Integrate merging cultures in a way that focuses on the strengths and capacities
of both organizations, enabling the new collective goals to be realized.
- Process Improvement: Identify internal and external best practices and envision what’s possible to
redesign or create new effective processes by tapping into the collective thinking of those closest to
- Culture Transformation: Culture enables performance and is critical for transformational change to
take place. A positive approach to culture transformation taps into the talent, strengths, values and
successes, and engages the workforce to unleash their collective imagination and commitment.
- Learning and Development: Appreciative learning – valuing and inquiring into what’s possible
rather than merely solving problems, unleashes incredible creativity and imagination. Don’t settle
for ordinary “training” programs.
- Mentoring and Coaching: In contrast to an emphasis on weaknesses, a positive approach centered
on strengths motivates individual commitment, growth and development.
- Succession Management: Bring succession plans to life by engaging leaders and high-potentials
in AI summits that will have a double impact – to achieve organizational goals while also developing
Contact us for more information on how we can help you transform your organization through positive,
strength-based change methods.
"Always remember that problems contain values that have improvement potential."
- Norman Vincent Peale
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