Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management

By Anne Sexton - Last update

Get Daily news and updates directly to your Email

Guy Flouch tackles a challenging book that takes the academic approach to organisational change
Appreciative Inquiry For Change Management: Using AI to Facilitate Organisational Development.

Fed up with hearing about organisational change? Whether you are or not, we all need to acknowledge and the reality of change, in organisations both large and small. Once acknowledged, it needs to be managed.

Understanding Appreciative Inquiry (AI)

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) might be an obscurantist label for a process, but it is also one of the most interesting concepts for facilitating organisational change. If you can get behind the jargon of the title, this book promises an interesting perspective on change management, particularly bearing in mind the pedigree of its authors.

Jonathan Passmore is a chartered occupational psychologist and a Fellow of the CIPD. He is the author of Excellence in Coaching. Sarah Lewis is a chartered occupational psychologist, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a founder member of the Association of Business Psychologists. Stefan Cantore is a consultant in the areas of leadership and management development.

The authors set out to illustrate AI’s method of asking particular questions that encourage organisations to envision the future. They also encourage staff to consider both the positive and negative systems in place and to accept the need to implement change. It focuses on building organisations around what works, rather than trying to fix what doesn’t. It also acknowledges the contribution of individuals, in order to increase trust and organisational alignment and effectiveness.

Dry language enlivened by case studies

The book opens with a section entitled “Organisations as machines, workers as cogs and management as a control process.” In essence, the section reviews organisations both as machines and as living systems

The emphasis on living systems and the importance of appreciation in promoting growth, was rewarding. This was particularly true in the context of organisations that still act as if it is 1890. The ensuing chapters on the development of conversations and postmodernism were, however, a little dry and the language is more academic than practical.

The following section reviews 4D Appreciative Inquiry and outlines how to use techniques such as World Café, Open Space, Future Search and The Circle. In contrast to previous parts of the book, this is written in a more practical style. However, the techniques are largely explained by reference to academic notions. It would have been better if these had been brought to life with reference to stories and anecdotes. This was a little surprising in a section which was ostensibly about stories.

The book does however conclude with four case studies, including an interesting insight into Nokia’s revitalization of corporate values programme. These case studies are possibly the most valuable part of the book.

Interesting, informative but very academic

All of the case histories come from organisations that have already integrated ‘conversational methods’ into their change management practice. They show why the processes can be useful and effective. The studies also show how practitioners might promote, create and generate such conversations themselves.

By the end of this book, readers will certainly know more about AI. HR Managers might even have developed enough enthusiasm to explore how they could apply AI to the HR processes in their own organisations.

However, overall, the book will probably satisfy academics rather practitioners. In parts, and only parts, the language used in the book can be as obscure at its title. AI can polarize it supporters and opponents. The book, though a little disappointing in its somewhat academic tone, will make a useful addition to the growing literature on the subject of Appreciative Inquiry.

Appreciative Inquiry For Change Management:Using AI to Facilitate Organisational Development by Sarah Lewis, Jonathan Passmore and Stefan Cantore. Pages: 240 Publication: 3 December 2007 Publisher: Kogan Page Ltd ISBN: 9780749450717

Anne Sexton

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
ROI & training analysis: a step-by-step guide


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We'd love to send you the latest news and articles about evening classes, further learning and adult education by email. We'll always treat your personal details with the utmost care and will never sell them to other companies for marketing purposes.

Comments and Reviews Policy