What is Appreciative Inquiry

I am fascinated by the Appreciative Inquiry concept, not only because it sounds cool, but I have seen it working (unlike many other business strategies) in real business scenarios.

I am afraid, B Schools often miss out on such business strategies which are very practical to implement. It wasn’t taught to me while I was in my management strategy class, however, over conversations with friends, I realized this can work wonders.

Here is a small story!

Back in the 1980s there was a low budget hotel, Omni Hotel. A hotel known for their pathetic service and no customer used to visit them, once experienced. The staff fought terribely with each other and service was awful, the cleaners weren’t motivated to clean the hotel regularly. Finally, the new manager invited a consultant to fix the problem.

The consultant could have applied problem solving approach to fix the issues, get the staff trained or could have replaced the old staff with the new qualified ones. He did nothing of that sort, he piloted the Appreciative Inquiry intervention. Here is what he did..

He brought the management of Omni hotel to one of the best 5 star hotels in New York to spend a week as guests. The management of Omni hotels were strictly instructed to notice and study best practices that these guys follow and what the 5 star hotel staff did well. They were not to notice or comment on what they did not do well. So they went upto employees and asked them what worked and and they looked for strengths every where. They were not allowed to talk or even think about their own Omni hotel. As the week passed, the 5 star hotel staff had impressed them to a level, where they started realizing the essence of hotel business.

At the end, the 5 star hotel received a report from the Omni team on how well the hospitality, the management and staff was. They served great food, nice smiles, always helping staff, friendly waiters, Clean rooms etc. with other strengths, successes and good things they found. The 5 star hotel was so grateful, they threw a thank you party for the Omni hotel staff before they returned.

The management went back home so inspired and full of ideas, they completely turned  things around. And the omni hotel became a 4 star hotel in a relatively short period of time, with the same people running the game!

This is one of many stories how Appreciative Inquiry had positive transformation in the attitude of people running an organization.

When a company needs to fine-tune its strategy or troubleshoot organizational issues, the best problem-solving solution may have little to do
with the problem itself, however, a strategy based on the idea focusing on what’s working is a better way to fix what’s wrong. There is  more on Google about AI.

More than organization, Appreciative Inquiry is a great tool for self improvement as well. Sachin Tendulkar is one great example. Had he been working on improving his mathematics score in school, the world would have never got a great cricketer. He inquired and appreciated what he was good at, rather than what he is not!

Satyam is a Consultant with Infosys Ltd. and editor / founder of marketinomics.com. When he is not talking about Digital Marketing or dreaming of CRM strategies, he can be found on a treadmill. He enjoys travelling, reading and listening to music! Catch up with him on twitter at @xatyam