Who would’ve thought that you could solve inefficiencies and problems by not looking at the inefficiencies or problems? It is an unusual concept, but Appreciative Inquiry (AI) takes problem solving in an innovative direction. According to this problem solving technique, paying attention to the problems will only amplify them; whereas, focusing on the positives will elicit the best solution. In addition to this, AI has been proven to produce other significant benefits for organisations, such as: enhancing collaboration, encouraging creativity, empowering individuals and avoiding stereotypical solutions. So, how can your organisation solve problems using AI?
There are four steps to undertaking a successful AI process, these are: Discover, Dream, Design and Deliver. When organisations want to undergo an AI process, they are encouraged to invite a group of stakeholders along to a planning workshop that works through these four phases.
The Discover phase of an AI process seeks to understand the current situation. This is one of the hardest phases for people to get their heads around as our minds naturally shift towards the current situational issues. However, instead of looking at the current issues, the Discover phase requires us to appreciate the best of what is and what has been. To discover this, participants are asked a series of questions that get them thinking about some of the key strengths of a current situation. Examples of questions that are commonly used during this phase are:
- What do you like most about…?
- What makes this memorable…?
- Why do you like…?
- What would make you choose this over something else…?
By responding to these questions, common themes and words start to appear. These are the themes that the rest of the AI process seeks to capitalise on…
The second phase of an AI process is the Dream phase. The Dream phase encourages imagination and creativity from participants by allowing them to brainstorm an ideal situation. When crafting an ideal situation in their minds, participants are encouraged to think about what it involves, what it looks like and what strengths it capitalises on. To make the most out of this phase, it is usually conducted individually at first before ideas are shared and strengthened in a group.
The third phase of the AI process is when participants start to translate radical ideas into reasonable solutions. As a group, participants take bits and pieces from the dream phase to design an ideal solution. Practicality questions are answered during this phase when proposing what resources, skills, training, money, knowledge and commitment is required to translate the dream into reality.
The final phase is the Deliver phase. This phase is where participants commit to the solution and set out a plan to achieve it. Typically, this stage involves the formulation of a proposal plan or implementation timeline.
And that’s it! A small workshop with four steps that could lead to innovative solutions for your organisation. Could AI be the solution to your next organisational problem?