Appreciative Inquiry Is All About Asking The Relevant Questions

Appreciative inquiry is focused on bringing organizational change, not by directing energy towards weaknesses but strengths. Its focus on positives makes it different from most of the other approaches that focus on failures, problems, and deficits. It is an approach that looks for the best in organizations, resources, and the world relevant to them. In essence, appreciative inquiry involves exploring an organization for things that make it more effective and alive at the same time. It puts lots of emphasis on the art of asking the right questions – those that can help organizations anticipate and accelerate the movement towards the right direction, in terms of organizational growth.

For appreciative inquiry to work, it is important for leaders to think about the questions they ask in meetings with different departments within their organization. Mostly, these questions are directed at the delay of a project or how the right decision wasn’t made regarding a particular issue, and others. For instance, the questions asked in the performance review meetings include focus on why objectives weren’t met. And employees are rated on performance standards that are ambiguous, to both the parties involved. The same happens in SWOT analysis as well – all the focus is on the weaknesses. This is the reason most employees are not really looking forward to their performance review meeting every year. The same is the case with regular staff meetings – No one is really interested in attending them. 

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However, this needs to change, if organizations want to be successful in the long run. Leaders have to be smarter when constructing questions. The focus should not be on failures but on successes. Also, leaders must ensure that employees are asked to share their honest opinion about how their organization can move forward. If leaders and organizations take this route, the outcomes can sometimes go beyond expectations. Organizations will be able to better the work culture and improve results that have a lot to do with how committed people are. And when employees are valued by their organizations, they are likely to be more engaged in creating the desired future for their respective employers. 

There is no need to make significant changes to drive the organization forward. It is important for leaders to understand that it is their responsibility to show their subordinates the way when it comes to bringing positive changes in the workplace. And that begins by understanding the questions that need to be asked, the reactions they get when they ask those questions, what is the reason behind those reactions, and what changes they can bring to their own way of working. 

Lack of answers is seldom the problem. Most often, people don’t ask the right questions or the way they put up those questions doesn’t often lead to the right answers. Appreciative inquiry is based on the premise that the answers that people get are shaped by the questions they asked. So, when people are expecting answers for the questions, they need to work on how they frame those questions as well as the mode of inquiry. 

Reference: Appreciative Inquiry: Leading By Asking The Right Questions | Forbes | Brett Steenbarger | June 21, 2015

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