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Do you like the idea that a project can start with an ambition, even a dream, rather than with defects to be corrected? While remaining concrete? Appreciative Inquiry can do all that — by putting your share of humanity into it… I tell you everything!

Appreciative Inquiry: above all a method

The two cornerstones of “A.I.” (for Appreciative Inquiry) have not escaped your attention: first of all, the notion of inquiry, which shows that it is a question of starting the project concerned by listening, by discovering. Secondly, appreciation: knowing how to value what exists, especially if it has already provided results. By associating the two concepts, we start out to discover the best in individuals and their organization, in order to put it at the disposal of the development of their collective.

The first sentence of its practical definition? Appreciative Inquiry is about the co-evolutionary search for the best in each person, in their organizations, and in the world around them.” (2005 article). It is the American psychologist David Cooperrider who gave this name to the approach built during his work for the Cleveland Clinic, as part of his doctorate in Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University in 1980.

A method means a framework and steps!

A.I. is indeed a method, with a complete sequence of 4 phases, designated by 4 “Ds”:

-Discovery: appreciate the successes, collect information through interviews on lived experiences, dialogue (in pairs and then groups)

-Dream: starting from what was shared in the Discovery phase, begin to identify common themes/a common dream, and formalize the project for the future. This large group phase can include an exhibition of each group’s dreams, physical activities, and ends with a report.

-Design: create the social or technical architecture, make provocative proposals, and turn the dream into reality.

-Deliver: This phase consists of actions to make the proposals a reality.

Here you can identify the intention: to start from what already exists with a positive approach, and to move towards a common goal in stages. Small practical exercise: if you had to make a decision concerning an approaching event (professional or personal), take a few minutes to imagine the evolution of your reflection, or even of your exchange with the people concerned. By taking more or less time for this exercise, you can see both your chances of success and your feelings depending on whether you start by listing all the things that could go wrong and the mistakes made in the past, or whether you let each actor express himself and aim for an enthusiastic result…

But is this “only” a method that could replace other change management approaches?

A connection with positive psychology

A.I. is not just one method among others, because to choose it, you must adopt a positive posture.

Positive like positive psychology – which has been working since the 1990’s to understand what creates our positive emotions, and what can help us reproduce them. We find this intention to associate what works and what does not work, rather than limiting action to repairing what does not work.

The very concrete principles of AI reflect the belief that language helps to create the world, just as the image inspires action, and each actor acts on the real. Along with the positive principle, which translates into the observation that it is positive questions that generate positive questions, another strong principle of AI is: imagining and embodying change makes it real. This is the principle of modeling. In other words: adopting an appreciative and questioning approach is in itself part of the change sought, which will contribute to its outcome also being based on appreciation and listening.

As you can see, these principles show that Appreciative Inquiry is above all a state of mind. It is a willingness to open observation to the talents and qualities of the people who make up the organization.

Co-Dynamics is your certified partner for an appreciative approach, whatever the scale of your next project. Let’s talk about it!