For-profit Business (Corporate)
Appreciative Inquiry (Ai) as the new frontier! What a provocative and bold assertion. So what is this appreciative approach and what’s new about it? Is it a current fad or truly something new in organization development? Many have called Ai “groundbreaking.” Certainly, as conceived of and described in some of the foundational work of David Cooperrider and colleagues at Case Western Reserve University (in the Doctoral program in Organizational Behavior that was created in 1960 by Herb Shephard) and the Taos Institute, Ai reflects the core values of OD practice and theory developed over the last half century. At a minimum, Ai encourages us to rethink and enlarge how we as organization development professionals approach our work, possibly leading to a reinventing of OD itself.
Ai is a novel approach to organizational change work. The affirmative value choice is what distinguishes it from other forms of OD. It influences every aspect of Ai, from the design of topics and questions to explore, to data analyses and feedback. As a strategy of change, Ai inspires collaborative action that engages and serves the whole system.
This chapter addresses the concern that Ai has been viewed as a “conceptual island” within organization development (Golembiewski, 2000). The purpose is to: (a) describe Ai within the context of its historical roots and theoretical foundations (Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987, Murrell, 1997, 1998); (b) identify Ai’s place along a continuum of approaches to action research (Ludema, 2000; Newman & Fitzgerald, 2000); and (c) describe the Ai process as it has been applied by organization development practitioners in diverse settings and with other OD techniques. Suggestions are offered for implementing an Ai change approach, and for maximizing practitioners’ effectiveness when doing so.