9 Chapters
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Chapter 2: What is Appreciative Inquiry?

Cooperrider, David; Whitney, Diana D. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Ap-pre’ci-ate, v., 1. Valuing; the act of recognizing the best in people or the world around us; affirming past and present strengths, successes, and potentials; to perceive those things that give life (health, vitality, excellence) to living systems. 2. To increase in value, e.g., the economy has appreciated in value. Synonyms: value, prize, esteem, and honor.

In-quire’, v., 1. The act of exploration and discovery. 2. To ask questions; to be open to seeing new potentials and possibilities. Synonyms: discover, search, systematically explore, and study.

The term AI has been described in a myriad of ways: as a radically affirmative approach to change that completely lets go of problem-based management and in so doing vitally transforms strategic planning, survey methods, culture change, merger integration methods . . . measurement systems;7 as a paradigm of conscious evolution geared for the realities of the new century;8 as the most important advance in action research in the past decade;9 as offspring and heir to Maslow’s vision of a positive social science;10 and as a methodology that takes the idea of the social construction of reality to its positive extreme, especially with its emphasis on metaphor and narrative, relational ways of knowing, on language, and on its potential as a source of generative theory.11

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Chapter 3: The Appreciative Inquiry 4-D Cycle

Cooperrider, David; Whitney, Diana D. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Appreciative Inquiry is a narrative-based process of positive change. It is a cycle of activity that starts by engaging all members of an organization or community in a broad set of interviews and deep dialogue about strengths, resources, and capabilities. It then moves people through a series of activities focused on envisioning bold possibilities and lifting up the most lifecentric dreams for the future. From there, it asks people to discuss and craft propositions that will guide their future together. And finally, it involves the formation of teams to carry out the work needed to realize the new dream and designs for the future. This process is called the AI 4-D cycle. This chapter gives you a brief overview of the 4-D cycle and how it gets started.

The AI cycle can be as rapid and informal as a conversation with a friend or a colleague, or as formal as an organization-wide process involving every stakeholder group. Although AI has no formula, the change efforts of most organizations flow through the 4-D cycle shown in Figure 4. Each AI process is homegrown, designed to meet the unique challenges of the organization and industry involved.

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Chapter 7: Principles for a Positive Revolution

Cooperrider, David; Whitney, Diana D. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Our undestanding of AI calls for a distinctive shift in human organizations and change. AI embodies both a philosophy and a methodology for change. In this chapter we present the five principles and scholarly streams of thought we consider central to AI. Familiarity with these principles will enable you to adapt Appreciative Inquiry to meet unique and challenging new situations and to create innovative practices of positive change.

The constructionist principle states the following:

Human knowledge and organizational destiny are interwoven. We are constantly involved in understanding and making sense of the people and world around us—doing strategic planning analysis, environmental scans, needs analysis, assessments and audits, surveys, focus groups, performance appraisals, and so on. To be effective executives, leaders, and change agents must be adept in the art of understanding, reading, and analyzing organizations as living, human constructions.

Constructionism23 is an approach to human science that replaces the individual with the relationship as the locus of knowledge. Therefore, this approach is built around a keen appreciation of the power of language and discourse of all types (from words to metaphors to narrative forms and so on) to create our sense of reality—our sense of the true, the good, and the possible.

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Chapter 8: Conditions for Success: The Liberation of Power

Cooperrider, David; Whitney, Diana D. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

For nearly two decades, we have watched as organizations and communities around the globe have experienced extraordinary transformations using Appreciative Inquiry for organization and social change. Several years ago, having tracked this consistent success in Nutrimental Foods, GTE, Hunter Douglas WFD, and others, Appreciative Inquiry consultants and authors Diana Whitney and Amanda Trosten-Bloom began wondering what created the conditions for Al’s success. More specifically, they began asking, Why do people get so excited and want to participate in Appreciative Inquiry? Why does participation so readily lead to positive results, such as innovation, productivity, employee satisfaction, and profitability? What creates the space for people to be their best at work and for personal transformation? And what are the conditions that foster cooperation throughout a whole system of highly diverse groups of people?

In keeping with the spirit of Appreciative Inquiry, they sought answers to these questions by conducting an inquiry into why Appreciative Inquiry works. They created a set of questions, held focus groups, and conducted formal and informal interviews in several organizations, most notably Hunter Douglas Window Fashions Division.

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Chapter 4: The 4-D Cycle in Action

Cooperrider, David; Whitney, Diana D. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

No two Appreciative Inquiry processes are alike. Each is designed to address a unique strategic challenge faced by the organization or industry Each is designed to optimize participation among stakeholders. This means that the four D’s of AI—discovery, dream, design, and destiny—can take many forms of expression. In this chapter, we provide a further explanation of each of the four D’s along with an example of how the AI process has been carried out in one organization.

The core discovery task is disclosing positive capacity. AI invites systemwide dialogue and learning through a process of appreciative interviewing. When asked how many people should be interviewed or who should do the interviews, we increasingly say“everyone”because, in the process, people reclaim their ability to admire, be surprised, be inspired, and appreciate the best in others and in their organization.

At the heart of discovery is the appreciative interview. The uniqueness and power of an AI interview stem from its fundamentally affirmative focus. What distinguishes AI at this phase is that every question is positive. During appreciative interviews, people uncover what gives life to their organization, department, or community when at its best. They discover personal and organizational highpoints, what people value, and how they hope and wish to enhance their organization’s social, economic, and environmental vitality.

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