Whether it be marriage, career, or personal growth, having a vision and mission to direct decision making and stimulate goal-setting is crucial to keeping a healthy and productive perspective.
One model, called Appreciate Inquiry (AI) has been shown to help elicit positive change and transformation both in and out of the workplace. It is often utilized as a prescription for change in organizations, though it can also be applied to daily life and relationships in general.
This methodology incorporates and blends a visionary and collective philosophy, and has been shown to be an effective tool to enhance relationships, stimulate creativity, and build commitment and meaning into peoples’ capacity for change.
The process of AI works by eliciting participation and collaboration from all people involved, whether a community function, organization, or family, with the overall goal of improving performance and functioning by asking strength based questions.
This strength based process is applied by asking questions like, “what is currently working?” and “what would work best in the future?” instead of using a deficit model focusing on “what’s wrong?” or “what’s the problem?”
AI is based on the 4-D cycle including discovery, dream, design and destiny. Though the first step is to determine what topic or matter your assembly will focus on.
Once the purpose of AI is determined, the four step model can be applied to create ideal conditions and a method of achieving this.
Here is a breakdown of the 4-D cycle and some of the questions that may be asked to elicit inquiry.
1. Discovery – Exploring what is best about your group or family, and focusing on memorable experiences and accomplishments.
Where are things going well in your life?
What is the most significant story in your life or organization?
2. Dream – Creating a collective vision of how things might be, or how you would desire them to be.
What world do you want to create?
What dreams and goals can we be passionate about and share together?
3. Design – Putting together a plan and creating a structure to achieve the above dream.
What relationships best support this dream?
What roles and responsibilities are you and I best suited for?
4. Destiny – Sustaining the relationships involved and having a commitment to achieve the aspiration together.
No specific questions are asked here, but the main point is to remain open-minded, flexible, and innovative, as well as to engage in healthy and supportive relationships through the process.
People want to be a part of something bigger that is really making a difference.
Given the chance, people want to make their community a better place, their business more effective, and family more healthy, and using AI gives them a way to do this by focusing on the best in people, having a common vision, and driving change from the system as a whole.
Cooperrider, D. and Whitney, D. (2004) Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.