Monday, April 30, 2007

Appreciative Inquiry

Ever heard of Appreciative Inquiry? Apparently it’s ‘an approach to organisational development and change which grows out of social constructionist thought.’
Does that help? Only if you know what social constructionist thought means. We’re given a bit of further help in the next sentence:
‘The appreciative inquiry approach offers us all the process and potential to positively explore, collectively imagine, collaboratively design and jointly commit to a path forward.’

Hmmm. Appreciative inquiry is achieved in four stages: Discover, Deliver, Design and Dream. I checked out a paper that had been written as a kind of introduction to it, and I don’t know that I’m much the wiser. There are a lot of what I’d call buzz words, words that in the context they’re presented in here don’t seem to mean too much: collective capacity building, stakeholder engagement, strategic deliverables (!), distinctive competence, paradigms of management, democratising strategy, meta strategic management cycle. Note how there are no little words here. To understand Appreciative Inquiry you have to use big words.

Anyway, Sara Orem (along with a couple of others) has written a book called Appreciative Coaching: a positive process for change. It’s published by Jossey-Bass.
The book is described in this way: ‘Appreciative Coaching describes an approach to coaching that is rooted in Appreciative Inquiry. At its core the Appreciative Coaching method shows individuals how to tap into (or rediscover) their own sense of wonder and excitement about their present life and future possibilities. Rather than focusing on individuals in limited or problem-oriented ways, Appreciate Coaching guides clients through four stages—Discovery, Dream, Design, and Destiny—that inspire them to an appreciative and empowering view of themselves and their future.’
There you go! That helps, doesn’t it?

Orem is a member of the Capella University, a fully online university that specialises in e-learning. I talked about e-learning late last year on this blog, again in relation to Capella, and it’s still an idea that appeals to me. Of course, it’s not entirely new, and most real universities, as opposed to online ones, are also doing e-learning of various kinds. You never know, once I get back from England, making an appreciative inquiry about myself may be just the thing!
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