Blog: Overcoming organisational cultures and moving towards shared meaning with Appreciative Inquiry

American Evaluation Association (AEA), Kristen Mulcahey
Publication Date:
September 2017
This blog post highlights Appreciative Inquiry (AI) as a method of evaluation for fostering an organizational culture of learning. Evaluators looked at two case studies of Bosnia and Herzegovina and South Africa.

What is AI?: AI is an action science which moves from theory into the creative based on social constructions of shared meaning. Using this participatory and positivist approach built around the elements of “Discovery, Dream, Design, and Destiny” can help evaluators overcome organizational cultural hurdles to achieve improved buy-in, and creative, actionable, solutions.

Language Matters: Evaluators found that framing discussions using language of deficit yielded briefer, closed responses, while positive language promoted more robust, measured, and insightful replies. In one case, actively seeking the positive surprisingly yielded uninhibited discussion on challenges and failures. In changing the way in which we discuss issues, we may be able to encourage and enhance collaboration, trust, openness, and creative problem-solving.

Informing Evaluations: The AI discussion findings should be used to develop the evaluation framework to improve the relevance, focus and practicality of evaluation recommendations and ultimately uptake of those recommendations.

For more information, tips, and resources on Appreciative Inquiry, visit the blog here.