Appreciative Inquiry

1. Appreciating or ValuingIt Starts with You Video Image

As a team or group, ask yourselves:
  • What is great about our team/organization?
  • What do we do best? 
  • What are our greatest qualities?
  • What are our proudest moments or accomplishments?
  • Recall the high points of our organization: What happened? How did we feel at the time? What were the challenges? How did we overcome them? What made it a high point?
  • What do you contribute to the University? Society? Each other?

Recognize that you as a group have many good qualities. Ask yourselves if those qualities shine through your actions, or whether what the world sees is different from what you know to be good about the group. Remember those things that are best about your group as you move onto the next phase. 

2. Imagining and Dialoguing (“What Might Be”)

Talk with each other about the following questions:
  • What are the things we value the most? Are those things apparent to the outside observer?
  • How are we viewed by those outside of our organization? Do they see what we see?
  • What do we want to be known for?
  • How do our leaders and our members contribute to the organization we want to be? To the image we want to project?
  • What kinds of things can we do to showcase the best of our organization?
  • Make a list of goals for your organization. What is it you want to do? 
Examples might include:
  • Creating a tightly knit community where academic excellence is supported
  • Choosing a nonprofit organization to raise funds or volunteer for
  • Engaging in political activism on a number of issues
  • Launching an educational campaign on campus about an important issue

3. Designing or envisioning (“What Should Be”)

Work with your group to plan what activities, events, promotions or actions you could undertake to achieve your goals.
  • Think about how you communicate to new members (both in word and deed).
  • How can you draw a direct connection between what you say you want to do and what you actually accomplish? For example, if you say you want to build a close-knit community, what can you do that actually accomplishes that? Hint: Research shows us that humiliating, harming or embarrassing your peers does NOT build community. But it also shows that inclusive activities are an important way to transmit your culture from year to year. Think about what those activities would look like and how they would accomplish what you want to be and do. 
  • How can you build capacity in your new members to carry on the traditions you are most proud of?
  • How can you create a culture where humiliation, harm or embarrassment are not acceptable? How can you make this exercise sustainable so that future members become part of the “new” you.

For each event you plan, keep asking yourselves, “How does this activity help us accomplish our goals?” Be honest with yourselves and specific enough so that you can draw a direct line between the goal (example - building a community that works towards ending poverty) and the activity (example - a Habitat for Humanity house building weekend).

4. Innovating and Creating (‘What Will Be’)

Choose several of the activities and events you designed and put them into action by assigning members to organize them and creating a timeline. Be sure to promote your activities widely on your social media and websites. It will help others to understand what you are all about and it will also keep your future members on track!

Example: One group who went through an Appreciative Inquiry process were especially proud of the fact that they were an inclusive group that had incredibly close friendships. They realized, however, that they were not very effective at communicating this to the outside world and that they had a pretty bad reputation in the neighbourhood. They decided they needed to change the way they conducted themselves, including being more sensitive to their community. They planned some activities that would include the community so that they could live and showcase their values.