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Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Means to Transform an Organizational Culture Gene Spencer – Bucknell University Maureen Sullivan – Maureen Sullivan Associates.

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Presentation on theme: "Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Means to Transform an Organizational Culture Gene Spencer – Bucknell University Maureen Sullivan – Maureen Sullivan Associates."— Presentation transcript:

1 Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Means to Transform an Organizational Culture Gene Spencer – Bucknell University Maureen Sullivan – Maureen Sullivan Associates Living The Future 5 April 16, 2004

2 How often do we think about how well our organizations are working? How often is the organizational culture an obstacle to change?

3 – “Refocusing” Computer Services – Merging IT and Library functions into Information Services & Resources – Reorganizing the front-line Technology Support Group A Tale of Three Reorganization

4 publications/Road_Less_Traveled_Paper.pdf

5 1993 A very “top- down” reorganization process… The old culture was in the way and change was imposed.

6 1997 A “grass-roots” process… called “Opportunistic Evolution” When the staff realized that change was necessary and became motivated to act, things happened.

7 Top Down – hard to get commitment Grass-Roots – slow to get action There has to be a better way!

8 A New Way… Appreciative Inquiry

9 AI - A Positive Description of an “Organizational Culture” “Organizations are, first and foremost, centers of human relatedness and relationships come alive where there is an appreciative eye, when people see the best in one another and the whole, when they share their dreams and ultimate concerns in affirming ways, and when they are connected in full voice to create not just new worlds, but better worlds. By making it possible for every voice to be heard, a life giving process is enacted.” (from The Appreciative Organization by Harlene Anderson, David Cooperrider, et. al.)

10 What is Appreciative Inquiry (AI)? Appreciative Inquiry is the study and exploration of what gives life to human systems when they function at their best. This approach to personal change and organization change is based on the assumption that questions and dialogue about strengths, successes, values, hopes, and dreams are themselves transformational. (from The Power of Appreciative Inquiry by Diana Whitney and Amanda Trosten-Bloom)

11 Appreciate and Inquire Appreciate and Inquire Ap-pre’ci-ate, v., 1. valuing; the act of recognizing the best in people or the world around us; affirming past and present strengths, successes, and potentials; to perceive those things that give life (health, vitality, excellence) to living systems 2. to increase in value, e.g. the economy has appreciated in value. Synonyms: VALUING, PRIZING, ESTEEMING, and HONORING. In-quire’ (kwir), v., 1. the act of exploration and discovery. 2. To ask questions; to be open to seeing new potentials and possibilities. Synonyms: DISCOVERY, SEARCH, and SYSTEMATIC EXPLORATION, STUDY. (from A Positive Revolution in Change: Appreciative Inquiry by David L. Cooperrider and Diana Whitney)

12 Do you recognize any of these people in your organization? Which is an appreciative view?

13 Appreciative Inquiry - Simply put… If we look for what is best and learn from it, we can magnify and multiply our successes If we continue to search for problems, we will continue to find problems

14 The 8 Assumptions of AI 1.In every society, organization, or group, something works. 2.What we focus on becomes our reality. 3.Reality is created in the moment, and there are multiple realities.

15 The 8 Assumptions of AI 4.The act of asking questions of an organization or group influences the group in some way. 5.People have more confidence and comfort to journey to the future (the unknown) when they carry forward parts of the past (the known).

16 The 8 Assumptions of AI 6.If we carry parts of the past forward, they should be what is best about the past. 7.It is important to value differences. 8.The language we use creates our reality. (from The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry By Sue Annis Hammond)

17 A Cultural Shift The work of leaders changes… Old work: leaders are responsible for finding and solving problems New work: leaders enable others to find the possibilities, energize the vision and create a new future

18 Facilitating an Appreciative View! Ask the right question… “What do you see here that would be useful to you?”

19 4-D Cycle of Appreciative Inquiry Positive Core Design “Determine what should be” Affirmative Topic Choice Dream “Imagine what might be” Discovery “Appreciate what is” Destiny “Create what will be” From The Power of Appreciative Inquiry

20 Applying Appreciative Inquiry to Improving Organizations? The choice of what we study is critical. The questions we ask will define what we will learn. The words we use create our reality. We can appreciate the best of what is already happening and multiply it. Imagine focusing this kind of attention on your organization.

21 2002 – The Front-line Technology Support in crisis mode 1993 design no longer worked well Technology had become “mission critical” Student employees – first line of defense 10% of problems resolved at “first point of contact” $30,000+ for contractors for summer installs Major backlog of problems Unhappy (but supportive) customers Completely reactive mode “We need more staff!” – 5? 7? 9? Low staff morale

22 2002 – The Approach Staff wanted change and our leadership supported it using the techniques of AI Energy for change came from the bottom up Guidance came from the top down The staff asked me “what’s important to you?” I outlined my 4 key requirements (and got out of the way) What happened in the middle was powerful The staff developed their dream within the parameters AND, the results far exceed my dreams!

23 4 “Simple” Requirements from the Associate VP of ISR 1. Better service for the campus community 2. Happier staff with more rewarding jobs 3. Stop using the term “User Self- Sufficiency” 4. Say “NO” much less frequently and then only “thoughtfully so” And we recognize the campus freeze on new positions!

24 The 4-D Cycle of AI Positive Core Design “Determine what should be” Affirmative Topic Choice Dream “Imagine what might be” Discovery “Appreciate what is” Destiny “Create what will be” From The Power of Appreciative Inquiry

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26 The 4-D Cycle of AI Positive Core Design “Determine what should be” Affirmative Topic Choice Dream “Imagine what might be” Discovery “Appreciate what is” Destiny “Create what will be” From The Power of Appreciative Inquiry

27 2002 Outcomes A new model developed by the staff Calls to the Tech Desk are differentiated (students vs. faculty/staff) Student employees (and a small staff) at the Tech Desk focused on supporting students A new Call Center – takes all calls from faculty/staff 80% of problems resolved at “first point of contact” Procedures/hand-offs simplified in many cases $30,000+ for contractors no longer needed Minimal backlog of cases – delays measured in hours Proactive mode – fix problems before they are noticed

28 2002 Outcomes (continued) Delighted customers The campus now believes that we are much more “Customer-Focused” High staff morale People are matched to their strengths and interests We eliminated one staff position Several other people were redeployed to the “right work” We rarely need to say “no” This effort received a Bucknell “Maxwell Award” for Customer Service, Extraordinary Effort and Embracing New Directions!

29 An Example AI Process: This illustrates the “Discovery” stage of a Formal Appreciative Inquiry Cycle… Appreciate What Is!

30 Provocative Proposition Imagine that you return to work and find a transformed organization. Everything works well. It is a high-performing, customer- focused library. It blends its service mission and its leadership role in perfect resonance with the needs and aspirations of the community. Its value and contribution are well known, openly appreciated and frequently celebrated.

31 Questions to Consider What do you see in this picture? What are the key elements of your vision? How does this feel to you? What will help you achieve your vision?

32 The 4-D Cycle of AI Positive Core Design “Determine what should be” Affirmative Topic Choice Dream “Imagine what might be” Discovery “Appreciate what is” Destiny “Create what will be” From The Power of Appreciative Inquiry

33 A Positive Description of an “Organizational Culture” “Organizations are, first and foremost, centers of human relatedness and relationships come alive where there is an appreciative eye, when people see the best in one another and the whole, when they share their dreams and ultimate concerns in affirming ways, and when they are connected in full voice to create not just new worlds, but better worlds. By making it possible for every voice to be heard, a life giving process is enacted.” (from The Appreciative Organization by Harlene Anderson, David Cooperrider, et. al.)

34 Some Closing Thoughts The questions you ask help to create the reality of your organization. Trying to “magnify the positive” builds energy and enthusiasm into organizations. Appreciative Inquiry can be applied to virtually any aspect of an organization. Organizations need to regularly ask questions about the structure and quality of their work, and search to find the best ideas among them and their customers.

35 Bibliography – Appreciative Inquiry The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry, Sue Annis Hammond (Thin Book Publishing Co.) The Power of Appreciative Inquiry, Diana Whitney & Amanda Trosten-Bloom (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) Encyclopedia of Positive Questions, Vol. 1, Diana Whitney, David Cooperrider, et. al. (Lakeshore Communications) The Appreciative Organization, Harlene Anderson, David Cooperrider, et. Al. (Taos Institute Publications) Appreciative Leaders, edited by Marjorie Schiller, et. Al. (Taos Institute Publications) “The Far Side” (various publications), Gary Larson

36 publications/Road_Less_Traveled_Paper.pdf

37 Other AI Resources The Appreciative Inquiry Commons (www.appreciativeinquiry.org/ ) The Taos Institute (www.taosinstitute.net/ ) A Guide to Appreciative Inquiry, Bernard J. Mohr (Pegasus Communications) Second International Appreciative Inquiry Conference (http://www.aiconsulting.org/conference2004/ Miami, Florida September 19-22, 2004)

38 The End! Gene Spencer – Maureen Sullivan -


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