Traditional organizational approaches to organizational development emerged from behavioral research undertaken after World War II. That research led to the development in the late 1940’s and 1950’s of behavioral development strategies such as sensitivity training, survey feedback, socio-technical systems, and quality management.
During the 1950’s, researchers and managers began to utilize different elements of the various behavioral development strategies to create more comprehensive processes for planning and executing change in organizations. Models such as Lewin’s 3 step planned change model and Action Research constituted some of the traditional forms of organizational development. The following is a traditional definition of organizational development that was developed in 1969. “Organization Development is an effort planned, organization-wide, and managed from the top, to increase organization effectiveness and health through planned interventions in the organization's 'processes,' using behavioral-science knowledge.”
-- Beckhard, “Organization development: Strategies and Models”
This definition implies the focus on improving organizational quality and performance through problem solving and modifying those behaviours which caused the problem. It is a ‘doctor-patient’ type approach whereby an OD practitioner enters an organization in an attempt to ‘diagnose’ organizational problems and ‘prescribe’ a solution.
Appreciative inquiry (AI) represents a paradigm shift in the way which organizations approach organizational development. Propounded by David Cooperrider and Srivastva in 1987, AI’s main difference from the traditional approach is that it focuses on what the organization is doing right and its strengths rather than its problems. It seeks to build on the core strengths and competencies of an organization to aid in shaping its future.
COMPONENTS OF APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY
Appreciative inquiry can be thought of as consisting of 3 major components: Discovery: this first step entails searching within the organization to reveal the best examples of organizing and organization within the experience of organizational members.
Understanding: OD practitioners then seek to understand the underlying driving forces that led to the instances of superior performance, as defined by organizational members.
Amplifying: the underlying forces that contribute to the superior performance of both people and processes are then reinforced and amplified.
AI is typically a 4 phase cycle known as the 4-D cycle (seen below).
( picture from file:///G:/What%20is%20Appreciative%20Inquiry.htm) Firstly the nature of the inquiry must be carefully thought though. This should include representatives from all stakeholder groups to ensure its acceptance. Generally, three to five broad topics are collaboratively developed from which interview questions are further developed. In the discovery phase, they explore participants’ peak experiences of each topic and all of their driving factors. These appreciative interviews tend to be intrinsically motivating as they bring out and invigorate the positive affect associated with the participants’ stories. The highlights of these appreciative interviews are then shared with groups which in essence creates a living database of superior performances. This phase tends to amplify the elements as they are captured on large surfaces by expressing them both in verbal and written format. The next phase involves the envisioning of processes that would work well in the desired future. Collectively, participants are expected to creatively expand and elaborate on the images, metaphors, hopes and dreams that were generated in the previous phase. They are allowed the creative freedom to express their views...
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