Appreciative inquiry encourages me to look for what’s working and lift it up like baby Simba.
For example, if my teammate Laura does something I am grateful for, I can let the rest of the team know:
Hey, everybody, I would like to give a shoutout to Laura. A few days ago, a client called and was very upset. We accidentally missed our end of an agreement and forgot to give them advance notice. Laura volunteered to handle the issue and did so impressively. She came to the conversation ready with an apology and two new courses of action for the client to choose from. She never passed the buck, acted defiantly, or rolled her eyes at the client’s anger. The client emailed us later that day and specifically said how thankful they were for the way Laura approached things. Let’s give it up for Laura!
This sort of celebration is as much for the rest of the team as it is for Laura. It offers a tangible and grounded example of what better work looks like. It’s not some anecdote about Michael Jordan or another impossibly accomplished person. It’s a story about Laura—the person who sits right next to you and deals with the same stuff you do. It didn’t happen in game seven of the playoffs and it wasn’t some miraculous feat. It happened a few days ago, on a regularly scheduled business day. The proximity of the progress is the power of it. Laura set an example that all of us can reach. All we have to do is choose to reach it.
I believe people want to do their jobs well. One reason they don’t is they lack concrete examples of what it looks like to do their jobs well. Appreciative inquiry helps us identify and share concrete examples of doing a job well so more people end up doing exactly that.
Here are ways to learn more about appreciative inquiry:
- Read or listen to chapter 5 of Do Better Work
- Watch the Highlight What’s Working episode we filmed with Steve Grossi
- Listen to an interview with David Cooperrider, the co-founder of appreciative inquiry
- Read The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry
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