Appreciative Inquiry

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

― Marianne Williamson

Upon first hearing of Appreciative Inquiry, participants in the Leadership in Community Development (LICD) Program think of positive thinking, or being optimistic with pretty things in our most direct surroundings.

Appreciate Inquiry motivates people to transform these ideas into attitude or behavior in daily life and at work, and even in the lives of others in our circles of communication.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI)?

It is an appreciative method based on searching through points of strength and building on them to develop leadership and organizational change. This method was developed by Suresh Srivastva & David Cooperrider in 1987 in USA, and it has been adopted as theory and organizing mechanism in managing organizations.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a methodology adopted by many organizations and companies that is directly, or indirectly, projected onto individuals, workers, and employees in these entities; hence, it is definitely projected on the communities and surrounding world, as well.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) calls upon people to focus on what is positive in each situation. Hence, creating opportunities to make effective development take place in the environment they work in. Moreover, discovering available resources and seizing opportunities in their development field of work raise the level of the work of the local community.

Exploring resources through AI – the dream, what is my dream? Based on modules of passion – design, how will I plan? – asking affects direction – direction verification, attaining new skills, empowerment, adapt and go for it!

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Levels

1st Level: Individual (Me, I)

It is my responsibility to motivate myself so I can look for all the positive characteristics: strengths, qualities, qualifications, or even capabilities that I have that can greatly contribute to my improvement; thus, enabling me reach the best version of myself!

Example: I am a sprinter, and I have 1000 meters to run in a specified time.

I have successfully run 800 meters!

First thing I think of is how have I crossed 800 meters? What are the factors and qualities that had helped me succeed and build upon to reach a better result next time?

2nd Level: Me & Others

As a community leader, I have the responsibility to motivate others to discover their strengths, resources, and qualities in their characters so they can utilize and build upon them in their lives and in their work.

When planning or implementing work, a person may be asked: “what is it that you know how to do?” not the opposite!

A community leader, and some business owners believe that building others starts with focusing on their strengths and helping them discover these strengths.

3rd Level: Community

How I will interact with the individuals within the circle of my community to shed light on the opportunities, strengths, and resources that they have so that they can deal with crises.

In some communities in the time of war, educational centers were severely demolished.

The community reverted to its resources, strengths, and opportunities that were scattered around in the vicinity. Hence, relying on the education crew it already had, and opening some houses and mosques to resume education for the students. Thus, utilizing available resources in its environment to overcome the challenge.

Importance & Advantages of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) for Institutions, Individuals, and Communities

  1. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) challenges the conventional way of problem solving “People learn from their mistakes”, for it helps and motivates people to learn from their successes. Instead of asking “What have I done wrong?”, “Where I have hot success?” would be an alternative, and “How can I build on my success?”.
  2. Focus on the skills and capabilities of those around us: the methodology motivates individuals to concentrate on the strengths they have, and invites them to talk about their accomplishments so they feel proud, and enhance their capacities for the future.
  3. It challenges the culture of BLAME. Instead of blaming a student for getting 9/10 and losing a mark, it invites us to think of “how have I gained 9 so I can get a 10 next time?”.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) relies on building on successes and achievements so the work and capacity can be developed for next times.

  • It helps people share their stories of success as a way pf progress.
  • It also holds us liable to celebrate our successes and considers them the foundation (corner) stone of planning and moving on into the future in a better way.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Implementation Mechanism within Communities

In our life, initiatives, activities, voluntary teams, institutions, and projects, Appreciative Inquiry (AI) mainly helps invent new solutions based on what we have already achieved, and build on accomplished positive deeds.