Problem Solved?

house-ida-valley.jpg Occupational therapists are often associated with problem solving. In reading about a change concept called appreciative inquiry. I was interested in the following description of problem solving

Traditional diagnostic model

  • Defining the problem
  • Fixing what is broken
  • Focusing on decay

What problems are you having?

And then an alternative model

Appreciative Inquiry

  • Searching for solutions that already work
  • Amplifying what works
  • Focus on life giving forces

What is working well around here?

Um…. It makes you think about the approach you use

So what is appreciative inquiry?

It was described in Cooperrider & Whitey as “Taking the best of the past and stretching it into the future”.

And in Hall and Hammond as having these features

  • Acknowledging that we all have rich positive experiences to call on
  • Works on the principle that whatever you want more of already exists in the organization (or I’m adding ‘an individual’) you just have to recognize it
  • People can have confidence in the future when they can carry though parts of the past
  • When you do more of what works the stuff that doesn’t work goes away

Much of the literature talks of using the Four D – model within appreciative inquiry In Magruder Watkins & Mohr they describe the four D model this way:

  • Discovery Appreciate the best of what is – by focusing on times of excellence(when are you or the organization most alive and effective)
  • Dream Involves challenging the status quo by envisaging a preferred future
  • Design Creating the social architecture – what will the structures and processes be
  • Deliver Deliver on the new images of the future a time of continuous learning, adjustment and improvisation

In summary

Appreciative inquiry is described as:

  • A search for the best in people
  • It identifies your positive core
  • It is about building on what works well
  • And most importantly it is about recognising the best in the people and world around us

Certainly makes you wonder what the world would be like if we all thought this way.

References:Cooperrider, D. & Whitney, D., A positive revolution in change: Appreciative inquiryGoogle Scholar

Hall, J., & and Hammond, S. What is appreciative Inquiry Google scholar

Magruder, J., & Mohr, B. J. (2001). Appreciative Inquiry: Change at the speed of imagination.
San Francisco:Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.


3 responses to “Problem Solved?

  1. occupationaltherapyotago
  2. Very interesting to see the incredible number of fields that Appreciative Inquiry is starting to be used in. I have a friend in OT who I think would benefit from it. You can check out my page on Appreciative Inquiry and through there visit the rest of my site if you want. We may have a lot in common. Good to meet another fellow AI practitioner.

  3. Hi all
    I am using appreciative inquiry (AI) for my thesis. I agree with Howard. OT’s can make great use of this method of research and organisational change. Many of us are familiar with using the strengths model and recovery theories in practice and therefore focusing on what is working well is a skill many of us already have. AI as a research method is more than accessible to us. Whilst it is primarily used with groups and organisations it is also being used with individuals. Fundamental to this method of research is that in every group there is something that has worked that can be focused on and what we focus on becomes reality (Hammond, 1998).

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