W10 - Politics for the common good: Appreciative inquiry as a critical micro practice of change Robbert Masselink - Netherlands / Danielle Zandee - Netherlands

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM
AI research and development

Uncritically striving for the common good covers over the political contestation that is unavoidable when trying to answer the question: Good for whom? In this workshop we will approach appreciative inquiry as fundamentally a “critical” micro practice that challenges the status quo and strives to find common ground for change by recognizing and including difference into the inquiry.

The background of our argument is that despite people’s best intentions, and the development of new organizational models, organizational life has grown more complex and demanding over the last twenty years. Can we confidently and affirmatively answer the question that organizations have become better workplaces, that is, more ethical, healthy and sustainable? How do we determine such progress? How do we help (or hinder) processes of change, improvement and innovation in the interest of the common good?

To explore these important questions we take a micro perspective on appreciative inquiry and highlight its political and ethical dynamics. Following a pragmatic line of reasoning, it is not in people’s intentions but in the actual unfolding of interrelated actions that the ethics and the politics of their collaborations become visible. A critical appreciation of such moments may create openings for constructive change.

In the workshop we will outline the critical dimension of appreciative inquiry and explain the meaning and importance of appreciative inquiry as a micro practice. Together, we will explore the implications for the inquiry process – what it means to be appreciative and how to facilitate inquiry from an understanding that our choices are going to affect others in ways that contradict what was originally intended. We believe that generating constructive change conversations necessitates reflection on our actions and their consequences. Thus we will invite participants to zoom in on the micro dynamics of their appreciative inquiry experiences. Together we can highlight the ethical, political tensions that we live through in those moments and explore helpful – perhaps activist – possibilities for change facilitation. We explore the contribution of AI-facilitators who are participating in the same process as the participants, hence experiencing these tensions too and probably contributing to them in involuntary ways.