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Appreciative Inquiry (AI) & Employee Engagement

Last Saturday 23rd of January 2010, I attended a development session at ESADE, a very good experience. Topic was Appreciative Inquiry. We refreshed the basic concept of this methodology and compared it with the typical problem solving process, we are all so used to use.

From the metaphor:  “Organizations are problems to solve”, to the one:  “Organizations are a mystery to explore”. We also reviewed the basic process of AI or also called the four D’ s.: Discovery, Dream, Design and Destiny.

Session was facilitated by Augusto Cuginotti from Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, EEUU).

A couple of reflections I had:

  1. This is a very good process/tool/methodology to revitalize employee engagement in a company, it focuses on the strengths of an organization, on achievements, on the good things we achieved together, and the better things we can achieve.  It gets employee participation and commitment.

My experience was exactly this, when I formed part of an AI application worldwide planning team and we conducted various summits. The challenge is that needs continuity, sponsors have to be so committed that cannot be applied just once. At the end of the day, if you start working in this method, you cannot just stop it. The more you use it, the more engagement you find in your organization.

  1. AI is always presented as opposite to Problem solving methodology in which we focus on the problem to be solved and not on the possibilities we have. It is perceived as “you have to replace your traditional way to look at an organization (as a problem) by using Appreciative Inquiry”. I think both systems should live in an organization. Problem solving has also very good advantages: once clear in what the problem is (which is sometimes not easy), focus, alternatives…

In my view, there should be more of appreciative inquiry and co-live with problem solving. This could be seen as a polarity and organizations should keep both methodologies. The two open questions I have are:

  1. How the combination of both methods change decision making process in a company?
  2. What is the impact in the “day to day” activities? AI is a boost of positive energy, but needs maintenance.

I believe that if an organization looks for opportunities to apply AI and keep commitment, employees feel engaged and you can think on converting dreams into realities.

What is your view? Do you want to talk and explore the possibilities of AI? Let’s talk about it…


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