Chicago appreciative inquiry is an approach to organizational and community development that has been used successfully worldwide to cultivate hope, build capacity, unleash collective appreciation and imagination, and bring about positive change. It is based on the simple idea that human beings move in the direction of what we ask about. When groups query human problems and conflicts, they often inadvertently magnify the very problems they had hoped to resolve.
Conversely, when groups study exalted human values and achievements, like peak experiences, best practices, and worthy accomplishments, these phenomena tend to flourish. AI deliberately asks positive questions around affirmative topics to ignite constructive dialogue and inspired action within organizations and communities. Change research shows that community innovation methods that evoke stories, and affirm and compel groups of people to envision positive images of the future grounded in the best of the past, have the greatest potential to produce deep and sustaining change and inspire collective action.
Appreciative Inquiry differs fundamentally from traditional problem-solving approaches. The basic assumption of problem-solving methodologies is that people and organizations are “broken” and need to be fixed. The process usually involves: (1) identifying the key problems; (2) analyzing the root causes; (3) searching for possible solutions; and (4) developing an action plan. Deficit-based analysis, while powerful in diagnosis, tends to undermine human organizing and motivation, because it creates a sense of threat, separation, defensiveness and deference to expert hierarchies.
In the play Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, two teenagers are controlled by a chain of human actions. Act 4, scenes 1,3 and 5, are a good representation of the web of human actions that cause tragedy between the pair of "star crossed lovers" (prologue). One example of human actions being dominant in those particular scenes is Friar Lawrence. His actions, while being in good intent, ...
Problem solving as a means of inspiring and sustaining human systems change is therefore limited. In contrast, the underlying assumption of appreciative inquiry is that people and organizations are full of assets, capabilities, resources, and strengths that can be located, affirmed, leveraged and encouraged. There are a variety of AI models that guide how Appreciative Inquiry is practiced but all of them are based on: 1. Choosing the positive as the focus of inquiry 2. Inquiring into stories of life-giving forces 3. Locating themes that appear in the stories and selecting topics for urther inquiry 4. Creating shared images of a preferred future 5. Finding innovative ways to create that future. Through constructive dialogue, trusted experience is shared, new possibilities imagined and new partnerships created to bring the desired future into being. The classic AI 4-D cycle includes: (1) discovery (valuing); (2) dream (envisioning); (3) design through dialogue; and (4) destiny (co-constructing the future. ) For resources on Appreciative Inquiry, see the AI Commons: appreciativeinquiry. case. edu Strengthening (Our) Questions Every question has a direction.
Where it leads depends on its often hidden assumptions. Few questions are neutral; most carry a generative or destructive energy. What questions build a bridge or turn on a light? Which offer a path into shared understanding? What questions invite new ways of seeing and connecting to a community or country’s future as one that citizens have the choice to create working together? Our choice of questions has a moral impact. “Why can’t you ever do anything right? ” presumes and creates an identity of incompetence. “What crime will ‘you people’ commit next? ” enflames violence. Who made such a stupid decision? ” looks to assign blame. “How can we get even? ” rallies support for retaliation. “Why bother to invest in a ‘lost generation’? ” reinforces despair about the future.
Conversely, questions can inspire, intrigue, delight, clarify, invite and build community. They can create pathways to positive experiences and affections, stimulate reflection on issues of importance, and help people notice what is of value. “How did you learn to do such a good job? ” honors an individual’s skill and generates useful information about creating a path to work for others. How can we support and learn from your community? ” assumes there is much to be learned and invites relationship and trust. “How can we get this done now and how can I help? ” infers confidence in an idea and a readiness to act on it, building solidarity and momentum to move forward. A positive connection is reinforced by asking “What makes you glad to live in this country? ” instead of “What are the biggest problems here? ” Shifting ownership of the future to citizens is activated by “What can you do to make a difference? “
Online communities are becoming “places” of belonging, information, and emotional support that people cannot do without. These social groups have a real existence for their participants, and thus have consequential effects on many aspects of behaviour. This article examines collective value creation and empowerment in an online brand community. It presents the main features of an online brand ...
Appreciative Inquiry organizes sequences of positive questions around constructive topics. The difference can be seen by citing the example of a conversation I had with a high school class who wished to learn about their community. Four of the teams had originally chosen “crime” as their area of study before I arrived and designed questions accordingly to ask the local police chief. I asked them why they wanted to investigate crime. They said it was because they felt unsafe. “What is it that you want? ” I inquired. After struggling with the question, they finally responded, “I guess we want to feel safe. “How do you think you’re likely to feel after you ask the police chief about crime in your neighborhood? ” A girl responded that they would likely feel more scared, because they would find out about more bad things that might happen to them. “What if you asked him instead about community safety, important practices that support it, what the police are proud of having accomplished, what actions students might take to protect yourselves and make the neighborhood safer?
” They acknowledged that such an interview would likely increase their respect for the police and their awareness of security strategies they could use. What do you think would be the effect of writing a letter to the police commander thanking him for the interview and the ways he is helping make the community safer? ” They said such a letter would probably remind him of why he wanted to be a policeman, and establish a relationship with him that they could draw on in the future. “Plus,” they added “I bet he never got a letter like that! ” Words create worlds. (By Bliss Browne, Imagine Chicago, 2008) Crafting Appreciative Questions: A How To Guide “Human systems grow toward what they persistently ask questions about. ” -David Cooperrider and Diana Whitney
The New Guinea cargo plane cult from a functionalist perspective stresses that the un-industrialization of the cult is due to the developed world not sharing technological advances with the tribe (cult). The tribe leader's ability to explain the purpose of the cargo planes and the tribe's inability to succeed with riches like that of the white man had a large affect on the tribe's belief system. ...
Appreciative Inquiry questions focus on what has life, meaning and value. When groups use Appreciative Inquiry, they share in a way that stretches collective vision because they are sharing stories of what has been possible and worthwhile. Bringing valued experiences into consciousness encourages action aligned with those values. People learn to see themselves as subjects of a system they can actively transform rather than as objects of a system that limits their imagination or determines their action. Think Positively! The power of the right question – points to remember The person who sets the question sets the direction and has the power of a change agent. +Images of the future are powerful. We can only move in the direction of what we can imagine. +Human systems want to move in a positive direction (like plants seeking the sun).
Positive questions and feedback create energy — like the sun, they literally make it more possible to live and to grow. +It is important to name and claim what’s working as well as what needs work.
This is a trustworthy foundation on which to build. +Negative images and conversations weaken us mentally and physically; positive images strengthen us and what we can accomplish. Positive communication is essential to mental and community health and requires practice. We are surrounded by negative vocabulary. We can choose to replace it with affirmative communication and community affirmation. +Example: Positive images of youth are essential to creating a social culture in which young people are encouraged to make a contribution. Because some people now see young people as problems to be solved or criminals to be feared, we need to showcase positive stories and images of what young people value and can accomplish and contribute. To design good appreciative inquiry questions, remember to: 1.
Ask about ultimate concerns (e. g. What do you value most? ) 2. Use positive questions that build on positive assumptions; (e. g. What about this neighborhood makes you especially glad you live here? ) 3. Give a thought-provoking, appealing definition of topics; (e. g. , “Constructive experiences of difference inspire new ways of thinking. ”) 4. Present questions as an invitation using expansive, positive, feeling, experiential words. (What has inspired you to get engaged? What do you most hope to contribute? ) 5. Enhance the possibilities of storytelling by asking questions about trusted personal experience. Thinking back on your year, please share a high point when…) 6. Phrase questions in a conversational, friendly tone (and listen eagerly as to a friend.
Frontline - Epitaph Mike Moore suggests that there is always a negative image of aborigines being portrayed and decides to try and make a positive documentary concerning aborigines. His comment that "It's nothing more than a cheap vehicle for screening negative images," tells the audience that he is frustrated that TV reports and articles in newspapers constantly show a negative image of ...