Appreciative Inquiry

An approach to organizational transition

…[Looking] for what works in an organization. The tangible result of the inquiry process is a series of statements that describe where the organization wants to be, based on the high moments of where they have been. Because the statements are grounded in real experience and history, people know how to repeat their success.” (Sue Hammond, The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry. pgs 6-7)

AI asks, “What are your organization’s…?”

  1. STRENGTHS — Your organization’s best qualities, where you see results and effectiveness.
  2. RESOURCES – Much more than finances…individuals with expertise, material goods, networks of people, etc.
  3. PASSIONS — What “drives,” compels, or supremely motivates the group or organization?
    • In his book, The Power of Uniqueness, Arthur F. Miller states that passion, “goes beyond a mere inventory of talents.  It’s the lifeblood of a person [or organization], the song that his [or, their] heart longs to sing, the race that his [or, their] legs long to run.  It’s the fire in his [or, their] belly.  It’s his [or, their] reason for being…so any time you tap into it, you hit a nerve that runs right to the core of the individual [or, organization]”  (pg.39).
    • BTW, Sometimes we allow competency to masquerade as passion.
    • Getting in touch with our holy passions leads us toward a vision to live for God’s greatness.
  4. TARGET GROUP: Who do we want to reach or serve? (To think about it differently, ask, “Who is our ‘customer?’ ”)
    • A Primary customer: the person whose life is changed through the organization’s work.
    • Supporting customers: others who must be satisfied for the organization to perform and achieve results.
  5. CONTEXT — Your organization’s size, membership, location, history, and connections.
  6. GLOCAL MISSIONAL EXPERIENCE — Your history in missions – both locally and globally.

FYI, David Cooperrider and colleagues at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio, first developed the term Appreciative Inquiry in the mid-80’s.