Change Implementation Techniques for Laying a Foundation for New Ways

Technique 1.46 Appreciative Inquiry (AI)

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. This is a positive approach to change that focuses on probing an organisation's best attributes and practices.

"...AI taps into the collective wisdom, knowledge, strategies, attitudes, skills and capabilities at its best..."

Amanda Trosten‐Bloom as quoted by Theodore Kinni, 2003

. It asks staff to concentrate on the positive aspects of their work, ie the positive core. This can result in a wave of energy being released

As Appreciative Inquiry adopts a positive approach that is energising and empowering.

It stresses continuity as a necessary part of change with conversations, story, dialogue. etc to bring the best of the past forward

Rather than looking at the negatives or weaknesses, it focus on the positives or strengths, ie
- what the organisation does well
- what you value best in people, systems and organisation

These strengths are the starting point to identify the organisation's positive core.

Neuroscience supports this approach, ie
- reminding people of past successes generates dopamine (a positive neurochemical) in the brain.  This helps people learn and to feel more positive
- communications (like asking questions, listening actively to employees' concerns, etc) and employee involvement help develop social connections at work that are important to reduce stress and anxiety

4D cycle (involve all staff)
i) discover (past - focus on dialogue, storytelling, employee participation and empowerment, etc)
ii) dream (future - the more positive and hopeful the image of the future, the more positive is the present day action)
iii) design (co-constructing, collaboration, empowerment, etc)
iv) deliver (transformation)

Discovery questions
1. Looking at your experience with your organisation, remember a time when you felt most alive, most fulfilled, or most excited about your involvement in your organisation, ie
1.1 What made it exciting?
1.2 Who else was involved?
1.3 Describe how you felt about it
1.4 What do you value most?

2. What 3 wishes would you make to increase the vitality and pride in your organisation?

This 4-D cycle can be used at any time during the change process, eg to announce the change, to develop change strategies, to accelerate change, to address the change program that is failing, to integrate model change initiatives, as a process for program or project management, to review the progress of a change initiative, etc.
(source: Ivana Crestani, 2016)

. Some people think AI is only of use to handle the "soft" areas of strategy such as vision, aligning groups and building cultures. However, it can be used on the "hard" areas of strategy such as processes, etc., and has been used as an effective method for actively engaging staff in financial turnarounds

. An example of the "4D" AI process is

discover the "best of what is", ie identify where the organisation's processes work perfectly

dream "what might be", ie envision processes that would work perfectly all the time

design "what should be", ie define and prioritise the elements of perfect processes

‐ create a destiny based on "what will be", ie participate in the creation of the design

. Remember, a positive focus tends to deliver a positive impact! Too often the conventional wisdom stresses the need to focus on negatives or challenges in organisations to determine what to improve. For example, you have 99% customer satisfaction and concentrate on what the organisation is doing wrongly with the 1%.

(source: Theodore Kinni, 2003)


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