Appreciative Enquiry

Appreciative Enquiry from Contract SA

By: Contract SA  07-04-2012
Keywords: Team Building, Human Resource Development, Organisational Development

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a collaborative, strengths-based approach to organisational development. It is used for team building, problem solving and strategic planning. Rather than focusing on problems, AI elicits solutions.  AI encourages groups to consciously and deliberately shift their way of being and seeing to an appreciative approach, that will help them focus on what's right in their organization, group or community, rather than on what's wrong.  It is about choice, understanding, attention to detail and responsibility


The AI approach is a journey that engages people in creating the sort of organisation that they want to live and work in.  It focuses on what happens when things are at their best. When you focus on the positive, it becomes the energizer for the future, and it generates information about what to build on to more into a successful future.

The process involves deciding on what it is that the organisation wants to achieve, and making that into a topic for the AI intervention. Then we get as many of the relevant stakeholders as possible to attend an AI summit, where they inquire into their life-giving forces, so as to find common ground, and the common themes that enable the organisation to succeed.  They will then work with those life-giving forces to build a plan together to move constructively into the future, knowing exactly what they want to achieve, who they need to achieve it with, and by when they want to measure their success.



The participants interview each other in pairs, recalling the most notable moments of excellence when they have worked where relationships were constructive, coherent and effective. They describe their experiences, focussing on what it was that made them feel most alive, involved, and most effective about their involvement.


In the plenary the participants share what they have heard and together identify the recurring themes that arise from their stories.


From the recurring themes the team, through a creative facilitated process identifies which of these themes has the most impact, and that all of them want more of in the organisation.  This is called the positive core.


In groups, metaphors are designed that best depict the positive core they have chosen.  This part of the programme stimulates whole-brain thinking which plays a vital role in improving the quality of the processes that follow.


Through the metaphors the team draws up a provocative proposition or key statement that will determine how the team will operate when the positive core is the norm rather than the exception.  The statement is bold, provocative, challenging the status quo, and desired.


The team then discusses what needs to be done in order to achieve this provocative proposition, including how to shape their systems and relationships differently to move toward the vision.

This can form the basis for further Organisational Development processes.


Team members then align themselves with the various action plans agreed on:  They form a team with whoever joins them on an identified task; they declare their intended actions; they establish a co-ordinator and they discuss how the task will be achieved, who will do what, where and by when.


In closing we address how the organisation will share and recognise achievements as they work on their tasks, and plans are made on sustaining the Appreciative Inquiry approach in the organisation from there on. 

Keywords: Human Resource Development, Organisational Development, Team Building

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