What is appreciative inquiry (AI)?
Profit and nonprofit organizations around the world are increasingly using this appreciative approach to foster collaborative change and make use of its strength to compete successfully. According to Professor Robert Quinn of the University of Michigan, AI is the process of “…creating a positive revolution in the field of organization development and change management” (as cited in Whitney & Cooperrider, 2011, p. 1). Rather than building upon the power of the whole, the model uses the whole to build conversational learning. Based on the perceptions of the future, changes are used to determine the best way to use past experiences. Affirmation and appreciation are used as organizational and change process for people. The relational process of inquiry employed in AI is based on four distinct phases – discovery, dream, design, and delivery (Kloppenborg, 2015). Discovery enquires what has been, dream enquires about what could be, design makes inquiries of what should be, and delivery determines what will be. AI is observed to facilitate positive change within human systems. Therefore it is both a way of being and seeing.
What are the implications of AI on Defining Project Scope?
The success of a project depends on the determination of the stakeholders of the organization, their wants, and the need to determine the scope of the project. AI assists stakeholders in a project to navigate using inquiries through the use of positive conversations (Kloppenborg, 2015). The four phases of inquiry have different implications of the definition of the project scope as indicated in the discussion.
This makes inquiries about what has been. This phase makes inquiries on the positive capacity of an organization. Within this inquiry, excellence in performance is determined through the inquiry of or description of strengths, successes, and assets that made it possible (Kloppenborg, 2015). Therefore, AI enhances the inquiry process by enabling or easing the process of project selection and prioritization, as well as determining the probability of success of the project. This phase of discovery builds on and appreciates capacities used successfully in the past, and that has been used excellently in the past (Kloppenborg, 2015).
This is the second phase of discovery and determines what could be (Kloppenborg, 2015). After the discovery process determines the moments of excellence, it uses this phase to build on these moments and make individuals believe that this excellence could be turned into a norm. Though ideal, this imagination creates hope and possibility, which enables people to create or build positive energy around their key strengths.
This phase of the process of AI is based on what should be by designing a way to realize such dreams (Kloppenborg, 2015). Hence, it goes over and above imagination since it creates a system through which participants can move to where they want to be. During this design, the primary assumption is that the construction is without hindrance or constraints.
It is the final phase and makes the construction of what will be. Here, individuals must come up with subsystems to use to actualize the design phase of AI (Kloppenborg, 2015). Therefore, the Stakeholders, in this phase, determine what they will commit themselves to. This process allows individual participants to identify or build an expectation from the project. Ultimately, AI appears to help people link their needs and wants to a future that is desirable. Also, the process allows the stakeholders of a group, organization, or community to determine opportunities and costs that enable them to make projects realistic and make them committed to the project (Kloppenborg, 2015).
Lastly, the final implication of AI to the success of a project is as a result of its ability to address ambiguity and uncertainty of projects, hence, participants could determine if the project has a reasonable possibility of success beforehand.
Kloppenborg, T. (2015). Contemporary project management (3rd ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
Whitney, D., & Cooperrider, D. (2011). Appreciative inquiry: A positive revolution in change. San Francisco, CA: Readhowyouwant.com.