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What is appreciative inquiry, and how can it help move your change management efforts forward – in a positive way?
Change management is really key to any customer experience transformation. As you well know, the transformation always focuses on the bad, on what’s going wrong – in hopes of improving and making it better; otherwise, I suppose, it wouldn’t be called a “transformation.”
What if we focused on the positive, too? or instead? And did more of what’s going well than (or in addition to) trying to change what’s not going well. I’m hoping most companies already do some of that, but I tend to see/hear more about the focus on changing the bad than on embracing the good.
There’s a concept called appreciative inquiry (AI) that shifts the thinking on this. What is it? From David Cooperrider, Lindsey Godwin, and Jacqueline Stavros (Cooperrider is the co-creator of this concept)…
At its heart, AI is about the search for the best in people, their organizations, and the strengths-filled, opportunity-rich world around them. AI is not so much a shift in the methods and models of organizational change, but AI is a fundamental shift in the overall perspective taken throughout the entire change process to ‘see’ the wholeness of the human system and to “inquire” into that system’s strengths, possibilities, and successes.
Yet another mindset shift to consider and to push us to do things differently! When thinking of change, focus on the good, perpetuate that, and drive change by embracing and building on the positive. The concept is framed on the notion that organizations will move in the direction of what it studies or focuses on.
From TechTarget, it is…
…a change management approach that focuses on identifying what is working well, analyzing why it is working well, and then doing more of it. The basic tenet of AI is that an organization will grow in whichever direction that people in the organization focus their attention. If all the attention is focused on problems, then identifying problems and dealing with them is what the organization will do best. If all the attention is focused on strengths, however, then identifying strengths and building on those strengths is what the organization will do best.
I’m all for focusing on what’s working well! What do you think? Is this a viable approach for CX professionals? Is there enough good in organizations when it comes to delivering both the employee experience and the customer experience that there’s something to build on?
How does appreciative inquiry work? There’s a 5-D model associated with it that looks like this.
- Define: What do you want to study? What do you want more of? What are the desired outcomes? When has the customer experience gone well, what can we learn from that, and how can you do more of the same?
- Discover: Talk about and define what’s working well. What have some of the company’s successes been? What are its strengths? When you think about periods or pockets of organizational excellence, what does/did that look like? What did each of those periods of pockets of excellence have in common?
- Dream: Having identified what the organization does best, ideate the future state and imagine what could be. How do you return to that period of greatness? What’s the shared vision for the future?
- Design: If you want the ideal, what does it look like? What steps do you need to take to achieve that? Continuous learning and adjustment are key to this phase. (The model steps start to feel a bit like design thinking.)
- Destiny: Implementation of the design. How will the design be delivered? How is it socialized and embedded within the organization? How will you celebrate successes?
These five are an ongoing cycle… once you’ve achieved success, the process loops around and continues to build on itself, always looking for the positive, embracing it, and improving on it.
A rising tide lifts all boats. -John F. Kennedy