Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a capacity building approach that selectively seeks to locate, highlight, and illuminate the life-giving forces within an organisation or community. AI seeks out the best of “what is” to help ignite the collective imagination of “what might be”. The aim is to generate new knowledge that expands the “realm of the possible” and helps people envision a collectively desired future and to carry forth that vision in ways which successfully translate images of possibility into reality, and belief into practice. AI is not a methodology. It is a philosophy, an orientation to change, and a way of seeing and being in the world!
The AI 4-D Theory entails four stages of change activity:
DISCOVERS – what gives life to an organisation; what is happening when the organisation is at its best;
DREAMS – about what might be; what the world is calling the organisation to be;
DESIGNS – ways to create the ideal as articulated by the whole organisation; and,
DELIVERS – through on-going and iterative processes. This is not a static solution but rather a dynamic process of continuous change.
This theory, first introduced by David Cooperrider, supersedes the usual problem-solving approach to finding solutions to organisational problems. Instead, the theory directs organisations to identify their strengths, to cultivate what works, and together make decisions through brainstorming and capitalising on the enthusiasm and energy of the organisational members. This is a generative process that leads to organisational transformation in whatever area it is applied, including technologically-related issues.
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