This new journey you are about to begin uses the model of Appreciative Inquiry.
There are four steps to Appreciative Inquiry which will guide you. This organizational model was developed by David Cooperrider, and at its core is focusing on the positive within a person, or an organization. Instead of asking what is the problem, or what is not working, the questions focus on successes, and what is working. This model was initially used as a consultancy tool in an attempt to bring about strategic change. It has been a successful tool in organizations, businesses, and government operations.
Consider if you were a consultant. You are hired to address a change in leadership within a corporation. The company is going in a discouraging direction, so they have hired a new president and they want to create a strategic plan for the future. Your job is to assess the organizational model of the corporation that will inform the strategies for the next decade. Some consultants will focus on what is not working within the organization. They will look for the deficits. Appreciative Inquiry takes a different approach. Under this model, you will focus on the strengths of the employees, and you will pay attention to what structures are benefiting the current talent. Instead of asking “what is wrong,” you ask, “what is working?”
Jennifer Bloom, a University faculty member, took this notion and applied it to education. At first, she focused on academic advising, coining the term Appreciative Advising. She then offered a broad approach for all levels of education, appropriately being coined Appreciative Education.
Cooperrider offers 4 steps to his process, that are also at the core for Bloom. They are: Discover-Dream-Design-Deliver. Bloom adds an initial stage known as Disarm, and a concluding stage known as Don’t Settle. Working with students, the Disarm step focuses on nonverbal behavior, and trust-building activities. The Don’t Settle step challenges the student to assess their year, and to imagine what more they can do in the future.
I have worked intimately with Appreciative Inquiry and Appreciative Advising. Trained in the Appreciative Advising Institute, I learned the skills to apply to my ministry with young people, ages 12-23. I called this model Appreciative Discipleship, and I have used it as consultation tool for youth ministers, campus ministers, and I incorporate it into both the freshmen seminar and doctoral courses that I instruct. I am a part of a team of administrators and faculty that created an award-winning faith-based leadership program that uses this model in its freshmen year.
I am excited to share these principles, activities, and inspiration with you as you begin to appreciate what is already working within you, and then moving you to a place of living the best life that God wants and needs you to live.
We will soon begin with the Discover step to remind you of how special you truly are in the eyes of God.