An Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry

On Thursday November 16th, I attended the Ladies that UX November Talk:  Can In-House UX and Mindfulness Coexist?. Trina Uzee, Allstate’s Executive Creative Director and Wellbeing Champion, led the presentation on mindfulness and also guided us on a loving kindness meditation. This was my first time meditating, and it was really wonderful!

The presentation focused on how to bring mindfulness and positivity to an organization’s work culture. Trina spoke about the benefits of compassion, kindness, mentorship and listening; all important components of an authentic and healthy team (or work family, as Trina referred to it). Bringing mindfulness into a workplace has many positive outcomes, including long-term happiness, increased productivity, and improved team collaboration. I was particularly interested in the positive effect it had on collaboration, as team dynamics can greatly influence a design’s outcome.

One practice for increasing mindfulness is to utilize Appreciative Inquiry (AI). AI was developed in the 1980s by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva, two professors at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. David Cooperrider provides a great definition of AI on his website:

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) represents a paradigm shift in the world of sustainable organizational development: a radical departure from traditional deficit-based change to a positive, strengths-based change approach. AI focuses on leveraging an organization’s “positive core” strengths to design and redesign the systems within an organization to achieve a more effective and sustainable future. (Source: http://www.davidcooperrider.com/ai-process/# )

Below is a video from AI Commons, which serves as a nice introduction to Appreciative Inquiry:

As we move into the holiday season and look towards the new year, it is the perfect time to bring more mindfulness into your work life and evaluate how appreciative inquiry could bring positive change to your organization in the next year(s).  

I will also be considering the following: Thinking beyond utilizing AI for organizational change, wouldn’t it be interesting to lead a design critique in the same manner? Focusing on what works, rather than a product’s faults, and how to build off that success? Some food for thought!

Lindsay Schultz
Researcher at CHOi Design Inc.
11/27/17