Appreciative Inquiry brings about corporate change by focusing on the positive achievements and processes that give life and strength to an organisation. Its methods are grounded in the theory and practice of positive transformation from the United States. A growing body of European research adds to its credibility.
The initial motivation for change is often dissatisfaction with the status quo of an organisation. Typically, management will seek resolution through change. But upwards of 80% of change management efforts fail, mostly for avoidable reasons. Failure to engage the hearts and minds of the men and women that make up the organisation is the most common reason.
Appreciative Inquiry seeks to achieve long lasting change by focusing directly on what works. Starting from the weakness or organisational problem to be improved, an AI proponent will reframe the challenge as ‘something the organisation wants more of’. On the theory that ‘words create worlds’ it is more productive to discuss, for example, stories of excellence in customer service than it is to analyse the reasons for poor customer service.
Through highlighting success AI seeks to build pride and harness each individual’s talents and energies to the general advantage of the organisation.
Positive change begins by first asking ‘what works best and what do we want more of? What do we want to nurture and grow here?’ Participants share with each other their most positive experiences, identify themes, hopes for the future and then work together to create a common vision to bring these dreams to life.
Another key aspect of AI is the intent to involve the whole organisation in the process. There is no better way to win hearts and minds than to engage their owners in planning the changes that will affect them.
Appreciative Inquiry is considered by many experts to be the most promising new approach to organisational change to emerge in the last twenty years, and to be the method most likely to succeed where the organisation’s survival depends on transformational changes in attitudes and ways of working.
Marvin Faure has written a paper on the use of Appreciative Inquiry in Europe, based on his own experiences.
“Problem-solving was never this easy: transformational change through Appreciative Inquiry” - Marvin Faure, 2006
You can obtain a copy of this paper under Complementary Articles.