Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an effective leadership tool. Appreciative Inquiry can be described as an affirmative approach to solving problems and generating positive change. AI is based on the premise that you can’t solve problems by looking at the problem. Instead, you look only at what is good about what you already have and what is possible to create in the future.
Watch this video on Appreciative Inquiry to learn more!
About Appreciative Inquiry
What I like about Appreciative Inquiry is being able to solve a problem without necessarily having to go back and look at all the things wrong with the problem.
Because if you think about it this way, you’ve got this problem today, and then, “Let’s go back, and whose fault was it? I should have done this, and could have done that, and what if they had done something else, or if I’d done something different,” and we could spend a whole lot of time in our meeting talking about all the things that were wrong, who did what, and how they did those things.
The problem is, at the end of the meeting, we kind of like, started here, we went back, and then we come a long way in a circle, and we’re all the way back where we were again, versus the idea with Appreciative Inquiry is, we start with, “What’s working really well?” In spite of all the bad things that have happened, in spite of COVID, in spite of maybe not having any sales, in spite of having problems with your employees, whatever the catastrophic issue is… 2008, obviously it was the economy, so in spite of all those things, what do we still have, what’s still great? And that’s the first phase of Appreciative Inquiry, taking stock and seeing what’s still working really well.
You start there, and then from there, you determine what the future is.
You look and say, “OK, this is what I want,” and I think that the best person that I can think of that did that was Walt Disney. He had this thing called the Dreaming Room. He’d go into the Dreaming Room, his engineers, and artists, and characters would go into a Dreaming Room, and all together they would sort of think about “What do we want to create next?” And there were no limits on money, on physics, on maybe because it hasn’t been done before they hadn’t considered that. This dreaming room, that’s where these amazing animations and different ideas came from for a lot of Disney’s work and, it’s the place to start.
What do you want? And there are no limits on what you can want as an entrepreneur.
That’s why we’re entrepreneurs, because we have that ability to think beyond that black and white, we’re creators.
Now from that Dreaming Room, then you select the items, the things that you want to move forward with. I’ll give you an example. One of my clients, her entire front of staff quit. It’s very devastating, and the conversations went something like, “OK, what do you still have?” Well, we still have a really great reputation in the market. Our food is amazing, we have our great customers, our back of house staff seems pretty happy, they work pretty well together, I still have my kids, they all know how to work front of house, we could do that, and then we have servers from the other stores that can come in and take over. All those things were the good things that happened, and then from there, what’s the dream?
“Well, the dream is, of course, I want to have this great, amazing, team of people that love working here. They show up on time they’re happy to work here there’s no gossiping. They’re great with the customers, and they really represent our brand,” and then from that, then you start putting in the pieces from, “Okay, what are the systems and structures we need to have in place to create that dream that you just thought about?”
Think about your own business, what are the systems and structures?
If your dream is to have, maybe, a personal take-home pay of $100,000, that’s a reasonable dream, so you kind of negotiate backwards from there. If that’s my dream, what are the things that need to be in place to be able to make that happen? That’s where you put systems, and you start prioritizing and organizing. Again, this is the process of Appreciative Inquiry. Once you have those pieces in place, then you put your action items together. I really love the idea, it’ll save you a lot of time, a lot of heartache, by applying the idea of Appreciative Inquiry to business problems. You can’t solve a problem looking at the problem, you have to solve the problem by looking at what you would really like to have, so I hope this helps.
Until next time, enjoy your Entrepreneurial Journey!
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