Influence: When the problem, isn’t the problem
“Using appreciative inquiry to improve safety change and the effectiveness of implementation strategies.” I’ve spent more than a decade in large and small organizations trying to encourage and enable people to work safely; but I keep noticing that over and over again, the approaches we used to enable long-term behavioural change would fail or peter out over time. It looked liked the changes had worked for a little while, but as soon as leaders moved on or business focus shifted most people went back to their old ways.
The changes just wouldn’t stick. There had to be a better way and I stumbled upon the emerging science of positive psychology – the evidence-based exploration of human flourishing — and the more I studied, the more I understood that most change approaches fail because we try to “fix” what’s wrong, rather than “build” on the strengths available to us.
Appreciative Inquiry is a co-creative study of what gives life and vitality to human systems – individually and collectively – when they function at their best. By recognizing and valuing your greatest strengths, successes and values, Appreciative Inquiry unleashes information and commitment for transformational change.
Successful Appreciative Inquiry initiatives can enhance an organization’s capacity for positive change by transforming the problem-oriented, deficit discourse to a strength-oriented, affirming discourse. In contrast, the previous approaches to managing change often focused on problems – their location, extent, and impact on people – but this resulted in magnifying the problem rather than finding sustainable solutions. Whereas, Appreciative Inquiry is about being curious about what is valued now, and into the future.
The Appreciative Inquiry approach is underpinned by the principle that the best way to create change in the world is to learn what’s working well and magnify it.