This is the first of two Articles/VLOGS about Appreciative Inquiry (AI).
In this post I give an overview of AI, then in my next post I will present a case study for how to apply AI in a typical work scenario.
EITHER read on or watch my short animation explainer video.
IS THIS YOU?
Whilst you love stories you wonder why the stories your organisation tells are so negative. Or, sometimes you feel your team are better at diagnosing rather than solving problems, or you notice that when things are not working well, the people around you are experts in describing just what’s wrong but not how to make it right. Then you notice morale can drop and people feel stressed and powerless.
During 20-years of corporate facilitation, training and coaching I have developed a rich toolset of facilitation methods. The approach that wholeheartedly engages groups, and is often my first facilitation tool of choice, is Appreciative Inquiry. Particularly when working with organisations that have problems, or teams that are not in the high-performance zone and in launch situations. I think this is because it offers a blame free, future focussed approach.
Now, primarily working as a Graphic Facilitator, I love to merge graphic recording with Appreciative Inquiry.
HERE’S WHAT TO DO…
If you want to unleash the collaborative thinking potential of your people, building on the positivity that always exists somewhere in an organisation or team, read on.
AN INTRODUCTION TO APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY (AI)
Appreciative Inquiry is a facilitated process used in groups to help them get resourceful when visioning the future, solving problems or getting creative. It focusses on what is called a 5 D process.
Define, Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver.
A QUICK OVERVIEW OF THE APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY 5D PROCESS
AI is the art of helping a group define what is already working to then discover why it’s working so they can harness their existing strengths and project them forward to a great big juicy dream of how they can utilise their potential given the strengths they already have. The group is then facilitated through how to design and deliver their dream.
Running the AI process tends to require a trained AI facilitator as it can take some chutzpah to manage cynicism and energise the group confidently through the process.
WAIT! DOES AI SOUND A BIT SOFT?
The AI process, although working from a positive perspective, really isn’t soft on hard issues. It doesn’t let poor performance off the hook or mean it won’t be addressed. It’s just that in resourcing people and groups with a belief in their own capability they will be better able to address and overcome the issue of what isn’t working by using positive thinking power to work out HOW to make things better.
WHY USE APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY OVER OTHER FACILITATION TOOLS?
Most organisations have a tool box full of familiar facilitation techniques like SWOTS, Fishbone and Force Field Analysis. Great approaches in lots of circumstances, but wait, here is the psychology bit.
Brains that are relaxed and focussing on positive things are more capable than stressed brains when it comes to thinking innovatively and creatively.
Focussing on the problem diagnostic can put the brain into a mild fight or flight response – particularly if it’s a big problem! Brains in that state are unlikely to have ‘aha’ moments.
I should say I am not advocating that you shouldn’t do a formal problem diagnostic, just separate that event from the future focussed event. Being open minded to a more creative future focussed approach allows people to step out of the problem and think more expansively.
People leave AI workshops with a different mind-set to traditional problem-solving workshops because the energy and focus is positive rather than negative. They won’t have ignored the negative issues, but the positive intention generated through the AI journey will naturally address them.
THE MARRIAGE OF GRAPHIC FACILITATION AND AI FACILITATION
These two approaches help ensure groups feel they are in a safe, creative space and they naturally link beautifully together.
Shepherding collective thinking is a key facilitator’s skill. Knowing what questions to ask and when and how to guide groups through the AI process takes practice. It’s worth looking for a trained AI practitioner who has deep knowledge of the process and good group facilitation skills to be able to get people comfortable with, and contributing to, the creative aspect of the process.
And, who of course, has the skills and ability to bring their visual art to the session is key. If you can get a trained AI facilitator with traditional group facilitation skills as well as strong graphic recording skills you have, in one person or organisation, everything to make your Appreciative Inquiry sessions transformational.
ABOUT DRAWN TO LEARN
Jackie Forbes is the Principal of Drawn to Learn and is an established facilitator trained in and practicing Appreciative Inquiry. Her international career has led her to design and deliver workshops and development programmes within numerous well-known companies and organisations. As a skilled practitioner in traditional facilitation and Graphic Facilitation she specialises in designing and delivering Appreciative Inquiry sessions.
I’d like to offer you a free 30 minute Discovery Call to explore whether Appreciative Inquiry is the right approach for your next workshop. Click the link here to book a date and time that suits us both.
Click here to review a sample of my portfolio of drawings.
Contact: email@example.com or phone (00 44) 07961 134 741
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Drawn to Learn has an overflowing toolkit, including learning and development programmes, team development, facilitation solutions and visual practices. Jackie is a member of the International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP)