Appreciative Inquiry is a method that was initially developed to foster organizational development. However, the method has found application in many other areas. There are different appreciative inquiry training tools that have been in use for years. This includes the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) and the Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results (SOAR). However, many good and bad things have been said over the years about SWOT method of analysis.
SWOT analysis, though is not a powerful method of inquiry training tool, it is a robust methodology and framework. This is mostly when it is used in its basic form or in the way that it was initially developed. Most HR and consulting practitioners, contend that it is time to adjust to other methods and steer away from SWOT. In this article, we look at SWOT and the other method of analysis.
This analysis method was developed from SOFT after it was well researched and thus improved. According to Mike Morrison, a founder and director of RapidBl consultancy, most authors missed the point of explaining the background of its use. This has made it be misunderstood. In this regard, the method of analysis was not set to be used alone or be a direct action phase. It was instead meant to be used as tool for diagnosis and data capture.
Some of the mistakes made by the authors include assuming that all applications of SWOT are in a way that they described them. These authors also seem to have ignored the threats and the weaknesses. This is by evidently believing that their solution will be excused over any difficulties. The assumptions can be seemingly seen in the way these authors describe SWOT method.
SOAR differences from SWOT
SOAR method is built on what they can do rather than considering what they should avoid. By doing this, the point on creating opportunities by omission of others or changes in customers patterns is missed.
However, in the SWOT method context, weaknesses are supposed to be internal. Thus, the method tends only to look at different factors that hamper the organization from achieving its goals. This is to say according to SWOT, the firm is not supposed to look at external factors.
Most of shareholders have closed down because of only focusing on strengths alone and ignoring their threats and weaknesses. However, SOAR is not a diagnostic tool or orientation tool. Thus, we can apply this method by taking SWOT data and applying it. Consequently, using SOAR as a diagnostic tool will have the same errors like what using SWOT inappropriately has caused.
Many compares SWOT to a rear view mirror that organizations use to correct mistakes and blow away real and imagined threats. Contrary to this, it keeps most of the organizations in the same existing affairs. This ends up draining the enthusiasm and the energy required by the organization to move forward. Thus, for personal development, SOAR is better but for true strategic planning both methods should be applied.
Significance of Appreciative Inquiry
Appreciative Inquiry is very significant in managing an organization. This is because Appreciative Inquiry is a specific way of asking questions and visualizing the future that promotes positive relationships. It is also based on the basic goodness in a situation, in a person and in organization promoters. Thus, Appreciative Inquiry helps in enhancing a system’s capacity for collaboration.
The method applies a four-stage process that focuses on discovering, dreaming, designing, delivering. The first step looks at ways of identifying organizational processes that suit it. The second step involves envisioning of the processes that can bring a positive change in the future. The third step deals with planning and prioritizing activities can do well. The last step involves execution of the proposed designed.
Appreciative Inquiry deals with processes that work well for the organization rather than forcing what does not suit it. Thus, this method focuses solely on what is working already for the organization. This is unlike problem solving which tries to fix things that do not work well.
This method is better than other methods as it is more positive in nature. However, it can be said to be tactically naive as it assumes success brings success. This is because many organizations have managed to grow by not only prioritizing but also solving problems. This problems solving must have involved fixing what did not work well at first but not concentrating on what can work alone.
Appreciative Inquiry is again a collaborative and participative approach. Thus, the method depends on the interactive techniques like group discussion and interviews. This is all aimed at identifying good practices, considering adjustments and introducing it into the system. In this regard, questions are asked in this method to strengthen the system’s capacity to identify, predict and heighten positive potential. The method thus offers an alternative to problem solving approach. This is by giving an affirmative approach for evaluating and visualizing future activities.
Is Appreciative Inquiry Suitable for an Unknown Subject?
The method being highly interactive demands that the subject of discussion be well known. Thus, there must be clear understanding of the topic under investigation. In this regard, there can be a big challenge when the topic of discussion is new and it is poorly defined.
Is Appreciative Inquiry Suitable for Controversial Topic
Appreciative Inquiry is has enhanced research on the controversial topics like multiculturalism and cohesion. Thus, the method has helped in improving the traditional hectic research approach that was used before. The method was able to avoid the stereotypical answers that came from traditional methods by bringing a new look to any topic.
Moreover, Appreciative Inquiry involves a positive approach that prevents many participants from focusing in problematic areas when questioning. Thus, the method also empowers the participants.
It is good to note that Appreciative Inquiry (IA) is not suitable for researching about challenging social topics like racism. Moreover, the method is also not suitable where participants have limited experience of the subject.
The method is an evaluative technique that aims at introducing and implementing change successfully. This property takes the method beyond the normal responsibility of research that requires commitment to implement. Moreover, the aspects of AI can be incorporated into the traditional evaluative research. However, borrowing some elements of AI should not make the traditional approach be considered as AI.
To read more or find out how appreciative inquiry can help streamline your business take a look at these articles.
Appreciative Inquiry UK – http://www.acukltd.com/
Change Consultancy UK – http://www.acukltd.com/change-consultancy/
Appreciative Inquiry Tools – http://www.acukltd.com/cards
Positive Psychology Tools – http://www.acukltd.com/cards
Appreciative Inquiry Training – http://www.acukltd.com/appreciative-inquiry-training/