Introduction | Philosophy | Resources
There are a wide variety of orientations to organizational planning that could be presented. For now, we are only including one on this website—Appreciative Inquiry (AI). This one has the same philosophical base as our orientation to evaluative inquiry.
"Appreciative Inquiry is a collaborative and highly participative,
system-wide approach to seeking, identifying, and enhancing the 'life-giving
forces' that are present when a system is performing optimally in human,
economic, and organizational terms." It is a journey during which profound
knowledge of a human system at its moments of wonder is uncovered and used to
co-construct the best and highest future of that system." (Watkins and Mohr,
"Appreciative" comes from the concept that when something increases in value
it "appreciates." "Inquiry" is the process of seeking to understand through
asking questions. AI chooses the positive as the focus for inquiry.
David Cooperrider is viewed as the founder of Appreciative Inquiry.
There are two general models that are used in AI circles: the D-model and the
I-model. We will use the D-model as defined by Watkins and Mohr (2001). The five
- Definition Phase: During this phase the goals are identified, the
questions and inquiry protocol are framed, the strategy for participation is
determined and the project management structure is developed.
- Discovery Phase: The members of the system develop an in-depth
understanding of (a) the energizing properties that are present in those
special moments when the organization is performing optimally from a human,
economic, and organizational perspective; and (b) the structures, dynamics,
and other conditions that allow those energizing properties to flourish.
- Dream Phase: At this point the system members create shared images of
how their organization would function, look, feel, and be if those
exceptional moments and energizing properties were the norm.
- Design Phase: During this phase the system members agree on the
principles they want to have guide changes in their organization’s social
and technical structure and work out the details of any needed changes based
on those principles.
- Destiny Phase: This is the time during which the organization evolves
into the preferred future image created during the Dream phase and worked on
in the Design phase.
In case you are wondering, the I-model uses the terms Initiate, Inquire,
Imagine, and Innovate. Woven through both models are five generic processes:
- Focus the inquiry on what is of value (positive/worthy of appreciating).
- Inquire into stories of energizing forces.
- Locate themes that appear in the stories and select topics for further
- Create shared images for a preferred future.
- Develop creative ways to build that future.
The process is not necessarily linear and phases may overlap. For example,
organizational changes doesn’t wait for the Destiny phase; the organization
starts to change when it starts to ask questions of itself in the Definition
AI combines the philosophy of social constructivism with the research on the power of image to create our own realities and futures. It also builds from an asset rather than a deficit perspective.
- Watkins, J. & Mohr, B. (2001). Appreciative inquiry: Change at the
speed of Imagination. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
companyofexperts.net. Company of Experts.net is an international network
of people with outstanding expertise in Consulting, Facilitating, Keynoting,
and Training. The network primarily exists to serve the professional and
organizational development needs of colleges, community colleges, schools
and universities. The network also serves the needs of other
sectors--businesses and corporations, governmental organizations and
www.appreciative-inquiry.org. This Web site introduces a new theory and
methodology of human development called appreciative inquiry (AI). Although
AI originated in the field of organization development, it soon became clear
that AI represented a new way of seeing the world—a new way of thinking,
acting, and being.
- In late September or early October we plan to have a 1.5 hour session at
Bakersfield College for CLIP members to learn more about the process. It
will be open to other BC employees as well.