Ten Reasons Why Now Is The Time For Appreciative Inquiry

If you've heard about Appreciative Inquiry and know, or have an inkling, of what it can do and the difference it can make but can't face trying to change mindsets in your organisation or with your clients, here are some talking points to use to marshall your arguments!


1. Change is changing

Traditional, top-down, designed then implemented change takes too long and is too hard to push through an organization. The plan is out of date almost as soon as it’s made. People resist. Change needs to be fast, flexible and proactive and focused on maximising tomorrow’s possibilities rather than rehashing yesterday’s mistakes. Change needs to take everyone with it. Appreciative Inquiry is a change methodology for our changing times.


2. Feeling good is good for business

Positive psychology research shows that positive workplaces, where people feel hopeful, encouraged and appreciated, reap many benefits. People are likely to be more creative, more generative, share information better, grow and learn better, be more energized, be bolder and braver about innovating, be able to deal with more complex information, and respond better to change. Appreciative inquiry builds positive energy. Appreciative inquiry helps people feel good in the hardest of circumstances


3. The future exists only in our imagination

Imagination is more powerful than forecasting in an unpredictable world. The past does not predict the future: it suggests possible trajectories. Using our imagination we can create other, more attractive, more creative, more inspiring trajectories, to inspiring and attractive futures. Collective imagining has the power to create dreams that pull people to work together to achieve them. We can use our analytic powers to analyse data, we can use our creative powers to imagine pictures of the future that pull us towards it. Appreciative Inquiry uses the power of imagination


4. The best organizations positively flourish

Interestingly research shows that being good and doing well go together. The organisations that focus on creating positive cultures, and leading with values, where people thrive, where the organisation flourishes, where there is a bias towards the positive, where there is a sense of abundance, often also do very well commercially. Timberland, Merek Corporation, Cascade, Synovus Financial Corporation, Fedex Freight, Southwest Airlines and the Marine Corp are all a testament to the possibility of doing the right thing and doing well. Appreciative inquiry is a values based change approach that focuses on doing right and doing well.


5. Social capital is a source of sustainability

Relational reserves are what see organizations through difficult times as much as financial reserves. Relational reserves is the goodwill your people feel towards you, the trust they have in what you say, the willingness they demonstrate to forgive leadership errors, or accept bad luck, and work with you to put things right. It is built over time through building social capital.  Appreciative Inquiry builds social capital


6. Speed is of the essence

The world is constantly changing, organizations need to be nimble and flexible, able to recast themselves to meet new challenges; and quickly. Cascading change takes too long. Change needs to happen simultaneously from top to bottom. Appreciative inquiry works with the whole system simultaneously, so the need for change is experienced, absorbed, understood from top to bottom. And ideas for change are designed and tested for impact by, and on, those they affect before the money is spent.


7. Resistance costs too much

Planned change frequently induces resistance. Resistance slows down change and diverts managerial energy and attention. It also frequently illuminates unforeseen problems and obstacles to the change that cost money to put right at this late stage in the change process. Resistance to change costs both negatively (wasting time and energy) and positively (helping the organization make necessary corrections). Appreciative inquiry works positively with all reactions to change to co-create a sustainable, valued, endorsed and appreciated approach to change. Resistance is no longer part of the change conversation.


8. Change is not a commodity to be bought

Organizations put a lot of energy into getting ‘buy-in’ to their plans for the future. This activity comes after the plans have been made when other people have to be persuaded of the rightness of the plans. Appreciative inquiry involves those affected by change from the start. Helping to co-design it, bringing their expertise to bear at an early stage, being heard, being valued, having a role in shaping their destiny, co-creating a future that holds attraction for them, means that people have built it themselves and don’t need to be sold it. Appreciative Inquiry achieves this.


9. We need to use our intelligence

The world is more interconnected that ever before. Everything affects everything else. We need all the intelligence we can get to keep up and get ahead. Treating most of the organization as ‘hired hands’ and only the top echelons as the brains of the business wastes a huge amount of organizational intelligence. Appreciative Inquiry brings all brains, and experience, and skill, and knowledge, in the system to bear on the challenges of keeping up, getting ahead, doing right, doing well and flourishing.


10. Strengths are a source of competitive advantage

Organizations spend too much time trying to fill gaps in people’s profiles, adapt people’s personalities, and helping them become better at things they aren’t good at. And not enough time on building on strengths and abilities. Positive psychology research demonstrates that the more time spent working to their strengths, the more productive, fulfilled and energized people are likely to be. Building on the strengths of individuals, and building on the strengths of the organization creates a strength-based organization. Such an organization has a competitive advantage. Appreciative inquiry is a strengths-based approach.


Other Resources

More on using Appreciative Inquiry and other positive psychology techniques to boost engagement at work can be found in Sarah’s book Positive Psychology at Work.

See more articles from the Knowledge Warehouse on Appreciative Inquiry.

Appreciating Change Can Help

Appreciating Change is skilled and experienced at supporting leaders in working in this challenging, exciting and productive way with their organizations. Find out more by looking at how we help with bringing Appreciative Inquiry and other positive psychology techniques to your workplace.

For further information on these alternative approaches to change, please contact us or phone 07973 782 715