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Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry, a planning and facilitation technique employed primarily in organizations, has been around since at least the mid-1990s. It does have a certain California New Age feel to it, although the original work was conducted by David Cooperrider at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland. It’s a provocative approach and one worth exploring. One of its most interesting premises is that we find what we look for – so if we, as consultants or planners, are searching for “problems” to fix, it’s no surprise that we find them! It proposes an alternative conceptual framework – focus on what’s working well in an organization (or for that matter, a community) and think about ways to generate more of that. This approach shifts away from the traditional SWOT analysis to the SOAR approach (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results) as a way to bring values (aspirations) into the equation earlier and to focus on positive outcomes. This book provides a quick overview of Appreciative Inquiry; it’s called a “thin book” since it’s exactly that, as well as reasonably priced, and contains enough information to decide whether this approach has any resonance for you.

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