14.3 A social enterprise named Appreciative Inquiry

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    My friend and Society 3.0 ambassador Cees Hoogendijk, who, in 2007, initiated the social enterprise called AI100, wrote this chapter.
    – Ronald van den Hoff.

    Since the global citizens are the building blocks of Society 3.0, we should pay attention to their (preferred) behavior. They are independent, self aware, and autonomous. And, if these were the only competencies, they would even enforce the highly individualistic world we are living in. The interesting other side of our Person 3.0 combines the individual competencies with binding, bridging behavior, aiming for co-creation, and connectedness. They are convinced that asynchronous reciprocity is the way in which to live your life. And, in fact, this set of personal values and competencies form the always-existing positive core in everyone. That is, in the eyes of the appreciative inquiry movement.

    The question is, how to develop this positive core into daily behavior? Appreciative inquiry – the words say what to do: inquire appreciatively – was, in the end of last century, introduced by David Cooperrider as a change management practice, a method for constructive, effective organizational development. As a “strength-based approach,” it has become a strong competitor – often the better alternative – for old school change management building on new structures and top down communication (the word “implementation” had to be re-invented because supposed changes didn’t seem to work out, so they had to be “implemented,” which always asks for power relations). In an AI summit, the participants representing the whole system are invited to share their most powerful experiences, enabling them to discover the strengths that already have been proven, and to dream about the right circumstances in which these good practices multiply themselves.
    The results of such a two-day event are at least two-sided: people have never experienced before such an inclusive and constructive meeting, in which every voice has been taken into account. At the same time, they co-created a set of change initiatives in which they feel co-ownership to realize them with all the energy they possess. This being already amazing, there’s more to appreciative inquiry. It is firmly grounded in a manner of person-to-person conversation (the AI interview) that can be regarded as high-quality communication. Carried out properly – and this is a lifetime development – this practice is beyond skill and competence; it is conversational art. And, the more our citizens grow their conversational art into appreciative inquiry, the more Society 3.0 will flourish. The major challenge is that people already are communicating, and tend to think that they are already good at it.

    In The Netherlands, more and more AI summits are being organized. We see them within organizations that want to include their employees in changes processes, and also in between organizations, where effective collaboration is needed. AI is not mainstreamed yet, of course. Corporate managers will have to accept less control of the content and outcome of the conversations. In return, by starting with the right question (the “affirmative topic”), organizations will move faster, and with more fun. The outcomes are astonishing. The AI movement is growing. AI100.org has taken up the mission to bring appreciative inquiry into Dutch organizations. How? By presenting an action-learning program in which the participants develop in-depth AI behavior, and apply this in their carefully chosen organizational projects. And where people get constructively infected by AI interviews, they often try to bring the experience further. This is called the generative impact of appreciative inquiry. It keeps the conversation going. It ensures social behavior. It helps to make the world a better place.

    The AI slogan says: “it’s our mind that creates this world,” A beautiful building block for organizations in Society 3.0!

    Cees Hoogendijk.