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Practicing Organization Development: Leading Transformation and Change, 4th Edition by Roland L. Sullivan, Jacqueline M. Stavros, William J. Rothwell

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Chapter SixAppreciative Inquiry

Organization Development and the Strengths Revolution

Jacqueline M. Stavros, Lindsey N. Godwin, and David L. Cooperrider

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a theory and practice of inquiry-and-change that shifts the perspective of organization development (OD) methods by suggesting that the very act of asking generative questions has profound impact in organizational systems. Inquiry and change are not separate moments. Our questions focus our attention on what is “there” to be noticed. Reflecting its social constructionist roots (Cooperrider, Barrett, and Srivastva 1995; Gergen 1995), which suggest that words create worlds, AI offers a new change imperative by suggesting that we be aware of the negativity bias that pervades our investigations into organizational life and instead shift our focus to the good, the better, and the possibilities that often go undernoticed in our systems. Building on Gergen (1995) and Cooperrider and Avital (2003), Cooperrider and Godwin (2012) summarize, “AI posits that human systems move in the direction of the questions they most frequently and authentically ask; knowledge and organizational destiny are intimately interwoven; what we know and how we study it has a direct impact on where we end up” (740).

Leveraging the power of generative questions, AI changes the focus of what we typically study in organizational life, questioning the prevailing mindset that “organizations are problems to be solved,” (Cooperrider and ...

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