ApprecHATive Inquiry strikes again!

15 11 2012

As you all know, for our project we developed a composite methodology for the CDATA workshops which combined Appreciative Inquiry with the negative black hat of Edward de Bono.  Well, we are delighted to report that because it was a huge success, another department in the University wanted to replicate our method for the purposes of their work.  Today, saw the completion of their last workshop – it went down extremely well and staff really enjoyed the technique.  Well done us!

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Hat trick!

30 05 2012

We have had a positive achievement (out of a negative ‘hat’ metaphor) three times – hence the ‘hat trick’!  Get it?  Clever play on words eh?!  So, how you might ask?

Well, for the past couple of weeks we have delivered three Approval in Principle review workshops using the “positive” Appreciative Inquiry (AI) method to collect opinions from our stakeholders; it is a powerful and extremely successful tool which is why we decided to use it for our project.  However, from experience, combined with stakeholder comments, we decided to do a bit of ‘Mendelian crossing’ to create our very own AI hybrid approach.  Reason being, by using AI we are focusing on what is working and exploring the best of what is (which has been so useful), however, at the end of the day it is only human to have negative comments.  When staff hear us say ‘let’s hear all about what you like and what you think is working well’, they automatically get defensive and think ‘but we have negative feelings too’ and then automatically assume from here on in we are going to push things under the carpet whilst wearing a pair of rose-tinted glasses.

Therefore, cue the hat!  We decided to borrow the negative black hat from Edward De Bono and his amazing Six Thinking Hats.  So, we identified that if stakeholders ‘released’ their negative thoughts at the door, so to speak, via physically writing them down on post-it notes and sticking them to the black hat, they felt more represented.  It also made them prepared for the workshop and in a different mindset, ready to embrace AI and its positive way of thinking.

Interestingly, we strongly felt the hybrid structure of the negative black hat metaphor combined with the traditional AI mechanism worked really well.  A quick 10 minute hat activity at the start of each workshop had significantly positive consequences.  It also transpired that a lot of the so-called ‘negative’ comments were in fact what’s missing or were possible suggestions for the future, which we also looked at towards the second half of the workshop (a fundamental component of AI).  Consequently the post-it notes came in handy again!

So, the hat was somewhat useful!