Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is the awareness of what energizes people and systems when they are at their best. As a process, AI emphasizes relationships, strengths, values and interviews. The interview which may be considered “an interpersonal inquiry” is the most important component of AI. It is how inclusion is woven into the fabric of the process, momentum is created and pursuit of whole systems change is realized.
Once a topic and methodology is determined, the 4D Cycle is next. This cycle grounds the AI process in the belief that people, teams, systems, organizations and communities are all best of when they are transformed together. The model of the 4D cycle is as follows:
Discovery: This a search for “the best of what has been”. It’s a deliberate shift away from analysis of deficits or problem-solving specific issues. This phase of the cycle includes interpersonal interviews, focus groups or larger gatherings for stakeholders with a focus on positive transformation. This creates the mindset that will drive the AI process.
Dream: This is collective exploration of “what might be”. Building off of Discovery, Dreaming calls for possibilities and what types of goals and outcomes we would like to create or experience more of. This is a great time to re-frame issues, which means acknowledging a problem as a source of pain and then asking a powerful question that seeks to get to the root of how the whole system can meet its potential as opposed to just solving the problem.
Design: This phase finds more organization and formal consideration of how to design the Dreams. It focuses on “what should be”. Design teams may be formed with clear pictures of how to expand the positive core of the organization. Creative approaches to collaborations and systems may be taken. We offer trainings in assessments and other workshops that help facilitate organization design.
Destiny: This is an understanding of “what will be”. This phase is all about implementation and moving forward with designs. This not just about organization destiny, but also how individuals and teams fit in to the bigger picture and how they will contribute. The collaborative style of the 4D Cycle will find changes occurring in various locales or areas inside the organization.
References: Cooperrider, David L, and Diana Kaplin Whitney. Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change. San Francisco, Calif.: Berrett-Koehler, 2005. Cooperrider, David L., Diana Whitney, and Jacqueline M. Stavros. Appreciative Inquiry Handbook: For Leaders of Change. 2. ed. Brunswick, Ohio: Crown Custom, 2008. Hammond, Sue Annis. The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry, 3rd Edition. Bend, Or.: Thin Book Pub., 2013. Cockell, Jeanie, and Joan McArthur-Blair. Appreciative Inquiry in Higher Education: A Transformative Force. The Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint, 2012. Watkins, Jane Magruder, and Bernard J. Mohr. Appreciative Inquiry: Change at the Speed of Imagination. Practicing Organization Development Series. San Francisco, Calif: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2001. Whitney, Diana, Amanda Trosten-Bloom, and David Cooperrider. The Power of Appreciative Inquiry: A Practical Guide to Positive Change. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2010.