“Energy is that which sets everything in motion.” (Aristoteles)
Organization’s effectiveness and its ability to change are dependent on the willingness of its members to invest their energies in the goals the organization has set. It takes remarkably little to awaken and sustain this kind of willingness, and the principles and methods of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) make it possible. The AI approach has spread far and wide in recent years in effecting substantial change in companies—from “hard” goals (such as the raising of effectiveness indicators) to “soft” ones (such as moving company culture toward better team work). Appreciative Inquiry is a philosophy and an organizational process of development built on a foundation resting upon the strengths of an organization and its members. Its concern is finding the best in people and their organizations, finding that which makes the organization most compelling, efficient and effective from an economic, human and ecological point of view. Appreciative Inquiry’s main instrument is the kind of inquiry which strengthens a system’s ability to comprehend its potential and make use of it. As professor Robert Quinn of the University of Michigan writes in his acclaimed book Change the World: “Appreciative Inquiry is currently revolutionizing the field of organizational development.” AI may be used on many levels: in communication with co-workers, partners and children, in facilitating teamwork or in the planning and realization of major change projects.
“Six months after a company-wide ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ summit, Nutrimental’s profits rose by an incredible 300 percent. Nutrimental’s CEO attributed this dramatic success to two factors: the participation of everyone in the company in the process of planning and the realization that the company prospers when people see the best in themselves, when they can reach sensible goals that are in their interests and when they are listened to.”
The process of positive change can be concisely described as the organization coming forward with an assignment (the change goal) and everyone participates in the search for the positive resources of its fulfillment. Strengthened by the awareness of these resources, people plan and carry out the concrete steps needed for realizing the necessary change.
With a fairly moderate investment in external cooperation you can make use of the considerable benefits of AI: from bettering your company’s overall atmosphere, focusing on your strengths, energizing your people and their willingness to take responsibility for results, streamlining communication and avoiding conflict to making desired changes in overall company culture.
It is usually sufficient for external consultants to come in, familiarize people with the principles and methods, contribute their own experience in the planning of implementation and then withdraw—they needn’t be a part of the implementation itself.