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Appreciative Inquiry Resources


Organizations that would be learning organizations develop from a solid understanding of twin concepts: appreciative inquiry and the community of inquiry.

On a long road trip back from one capital city in the Middle East to another, a consultant and his client considered how to deliver a ethics/compliance program assessment document to a major institution. The draft language had been rejected by its management as unduly negative—culturally offensive. The problem was not with the recommendations; they recognized their value. Management was just opposed to the formal surfacing of the negative findings that supported the conclusions that were the basis of the recommendations.

On the face of it, the ethics of consulting seemed to require withdrawal from the project. In recognizing and respecting the values of the client, it is nonetheless important to recognize and respect one's own. Though recognizing and respecting cultural differences, the organizational norm for the consultant was communicating the "unvarnished truth" to management.

As the sun set and the night deepened, the consultant mused to the client: "It's really an issue of whether the glass is half-empty or half-full, isn't it? If we surface where they want to go as an institution, and 'find' what they are doing right, we can reach the same recommendations as to what they need to do next, without being negative."

Thus was born, in my mind, the notion of "constructive ethics." Making recommendations for more effective ethics/compliance program based upon a firm sense ("findings") of where the organization wants to go and what it is doing right as it strives to get there. Conclusions and recommendations relate to what needs to be done to go further.

It was years later that I learned of the philosophical approach to knowledge known as appreciative inquiry and integrated it with the much older notion of the community of inquiry. Organizations that would be "learning organizations" develop from a solid understanding of these twin concepts.

Here are some favorite online resources for appreciative inquiry.

The Taos Institute

appreciative inquiry resources

Management Assistance Program: Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry Resource Centre Newsletter

Appreciative Inquiry in Organizational Life, David L. Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva

Locating the energy for change: An introduction to appreciative inquiry

MYRADA Appreciative Inquiry Project Beyond problem analysis: Using appreciative inquiry to design and deliver environmental, gender equity and private sector development projects

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