Making Change Work – Using Appreciative Inquiry
Creating change for the better and making it work is one of the most satisfying things about being a manager – knowing that your input has created significant improvements and better systems is what the job is all about.
This process is often difficult because people, regardless of their job title or position, seldom welcome change yet this is the one thing that keeps and organisation fresh and which promotes sustainable development and long-term success.
To drive success and to challenge the traditional view of what is wrong with an issue and who to blame for it, forward-thinking organisations use Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to look at problems from a different viewpoint where blame and defensiveness are avoided.
There are four stages to AI which must be followed to get the best possible outcomes from the process:
- Discovery: what is the current situation and what in it is seen to be good (in terms of perhaps quality or output). What key strengths and best practice can be used for moving forward? What makes your team proud of what they are doing and how can you then use this to make things better?
- Dream: how can the positives be used to shape how the team/organisation might develop and grow? What could we achieve using the successes/strengths we have already identified?
- Design: making firm decisions about what we want to achieve so that the organisation is more effective and efficient. As an example, what organisational values might we want to design and what leadership standards or behaviours would this mean developing?
- Destiny: translating the steps previously identified into concrete steps forward. This involves using, and celebrating, the current best-practices identified combined with creating specific activities and programmes that will deliver the design that is needed.
Large-scale AI may involve hundreds of people and will need careful management oversight to ensure that outcomes are delivered. However small-scale, daily initiatives can be delivered through AI at team level where managers are working hard to shift attitudes and operational systems towards a desired outcome.
Try the approach next time you have a problem that keeps emerging and which needs a quality solution!
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