Appreciative Inquiry: It Takes Practice and Persistence

According to the online article Appreciative Inquiry: Igniting Transformative Action[1],  we can all become appreciative inquirers. It is simply a matter of reframing the objective and the related questions. For example, it suggests, “The next time someone in your team says, ‘Let’s critique our meeting,’ ask if they would be willing to have each person describe what they consider the best part of the meeting and offer suggestions for how participants can do more of that in future gatherings.”

I tried this very approach in a recent project debrief session. I started out the meeting describing what appreciative inquiry is and how to apply the concept to our project debrief. However, it took about 60 seconds before we digressed to discussing the things that we should have done differently. Somehow, this seemed more satisfying to some, particularly to those that were not an integral part of the project day-to-day. In part, I suspect that for task-oriented, identify-problems-and-develop-solutions-minded engineers, it is a familiar and comfortable space to be in.

I have not given up. I will integrate appreciative inquiry into our daily debriefs, our weekly workload assessments, and our mid- and long-term planning sessions. After more practice and persistence, I will let you know how we are doing! 


In the Next Issue

In the next few posts, we will continue to explore how Appreciative Inquiry might be a vital component for shifting how, when, why, and where energy is used by diving more deeply into the Five D’s. I would love to hear from others!


[1] Adapted from the Five D’s diagram in the article Appreciative Inquiry: Igniting Transformative Action, Bernard J. Mohr,

About This Blog

We are on the brink of an evaluation renaissance. Smart grids, smart meters, smart buildings, and smart data are prominent themes in the industry lexicon. Smarter evaluation and research must follow. To explore this evaluation renaissance, I am looking both inside and outside the evaluation community in a search for fresh ideas, new methods, and novel twists on old methods. I am looking to others for their thoughts and experiences for advancing the evaluation and research practice.

So, please…stay tuned, engage, and always, always question. Let’s get smarter together.

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Teresa Lutz

Earlier in my career, I worked for a utility supporting the design and delivery of energy conservation programs through evaluation and research. At that time, I did not love the evaluation process or the evaluation community. The value of evaluation was a tough sell to my coworkers, and I agreed the evaluation process and results could be better. We wanted more timely feedback, recommendations we could implement, and insight beyond what we already knew. As a consultant, I hold those experiences close. I avoid doing ‘evaluation for evaluation’s sake’. I am fixated on figuring out the Big WHY of what we do, what works and what doesn’t. It is through knowing this that we can improve and prosper in this industry.

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