We have been asked to repeat what we said sometime and give concrete examples of where Appreciative Inquiry AI) has worked.
If you, our bosses, want something repeated, explained, elucidated, and exemplified, we are nothing, nous ne sommes rien, to resist, refuse or reject your orders and directives.
There is AI in town which seems to scare many people. Teachers are scared that students will just be commanding AI applications on their phones or computers and voila, essays will come out replete with references.
Current and future employees are worried because they fear all jobs, especially in industries, such as motorcar assemblies, and service centres, such as banks, restaurants and hotels will be automated or taken over by robots with human-like intelligence.
Whether the fears are justified or not, we can’t say. What we are sure of is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here to stay.
That AI may have negative social effects. But this AI we are talking about is Appreciative Inquiry. It is not artificial. This AI has been there far longer and it has been proved helpful and effective in organisation turn-around.
AI is an organisational and economic planning theory based upon the idea of appreciating what works in an organisation, in us, and in the world.
Made up of two concepts, appreciative inquiry is the search for (inquiry, kufufuza) and valuation (appreciation; kuyamikira) of what works in our organisations and in us. In their 4-D (later 5-D) model they identified the positive core as the ‘sun’ around which discovery, dream, design, destiny, and delivery rotated.
Today, Appreciative Inquiry is a dominant theory in education assessment and measurement where it has influenced appreciative marking; in project monitoring and evaluation where it has focused on action research; in communication for development; solutions journalism, and even in marriage where positivity has overridden negativity.
Appreciating the positive; seeing what works; searching for those strengths and assets that give meaning to life; searching for positive experiences from history are characteristics of Appreciative Inquiry. This positive asset-based approach to life leads to social and self-valuation.
Each one of us has something in us that works. If we pool our positive talents, we can make our countries, communities and structure strong and great (again). Let’s identify our collective national and individual positives, our assets to develop ourselves.
To illustrate that the AI of Appreciative Inquiry works, we will give you one example.
From 1999 to 2007 the USAid-funded Community Partnerships for Sustainable Resource Management (Compass) project centred its approach on Appreciative Inquiry. It trained project primary participants and stakeholders to treat the natural resources in their areas, such as forests and fish, and others that regenerate on their own as sources of longtime benefits. For example, a Mango tree is more productive during a 50-year span than when cut down to turn into charcoal, which will bring money once hic et nunc.
Several people were trained in honey production and aquaculture. The people that learned those valuation skills are still in the business today in Nkhata Bay, Mulanje, Rumphi, and elsewhere. In these areas, the most forests are alive and well, although threats are there, because people surrounding those value them as sources of honey and, therefore, money.
Have your ever heard about Radio Research Gardens implemented by the Story Workshop Trust through its radio magazine programme, Mwana Alirenji? Do you know why Ntcheu is Malawi’s abichi (cabbage) and katofeni powerhouse? Human urine.
This AI brings positive results. It is versatile can be used in project, economic, and home planning, and in monitoring and evaluation.