Introduction - The Appreciative Inquiry Commons

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					Appreciative Leadership:
Applying Appreciative Inquiry And Theory
        With CIMBA Students At
   Lawrence Technological University
              (A Proposal)

               Robert M Burke
              Student ID: 85943
            LTU CIMBA – Module 6

                                                              Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

                            Table of Contents                              Number(s)
Executive Summary                                                               3
Introduction                                                                  4-5
Statement of Purpose                                                            5
Background of CIMBA                                                           5-6
What is Appreciative Inquiry                                                  6-7
Principles of Appreciative Inquiry                                            7-8
The Appreciative Inquiry 4D Model                                             8-9
What Can Appreciative Inquiry Theory And Application Offer To CIMBA          9 - 10
What Can Appreciative Inquiry offer CIMBA?                                   10 - 11
Suggested Plan For Incorporating The Application Of Appreciative Inquire     11 - 14
Conclusion                                                                   14 - 15
References                                                                     15
Appendix A – Sample Interview Protocol                                       16 - 17

                                                                  Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

                                Executive Summary

    In September 1999, Lawrence Technological University launched an innovative new
MBA program designed for students currently employed within the business community.
The idea was to offer a non-traditional MBA program providing a unique learning
experience for the MBA student. The name of the program reflects the intent: Career
Integrated MBA (CIMBA). As the first class of students journeyed through the two-year
program, the teaching and executive staff of CIMBA gained much insight into its
structural integrity. Areas of concern that surfaced include: the students understanding of
the interlocking relationship of each of the six modules to complete and the student’s
ability to retain the knowledge of the material and experience gained. In addition to these
goals, one special desire was readily sought after: to develop a program with an edge….
something extra students can take away from the program that was not found in the
traditional MBA experience and to have developed exceptional business leaders in the

The proposal that follows is an invitation to the teaching and executive staff of CIMBA
to blend into the CIMBA curriculum a revolutionary theory and methodology for
bringing about positive change within any organizational setting while developing
Appreciative Leaders; and that is Appreciative Inquiry. Through the application of
Appreciative Inquiry, CIMBA students will collaboratively co-construct a vision for their
group (or cohort) of what the ultimate business leader personifies. This vision will find
its roots in the student’s own past and present experiences. From this vision the students
determine what action steps are needed during the course of their two-year journey that
will enable them to personify and exemplify their vision on graduation day.

Appreciative Inquiry as an process for organizational development was developed during
the 1980’s by Dr. David Cooperrider of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland
OH. Appreciative Inquiry is a scientific process rooted in scientific research - and its
much more. Appreciative Inquiry is a pragmatic process of uncovering the strengths and
life giving forces of the group or organization and constructing a vision of desired
change. The 4D Model of Appreciative Inquiry consists of four phases:

   Discovery:        Uncovering and valuing the best of “What Is.”
   Dream:            Envisioning “What Might Be.”
   Design:           Determining “What Should Be.”
   Destiny:          Growing “What Will Be.”

It is my belief that incorporating Appreciative Inquiry into the student’s two-year
developmental journey into business leaders will only strengthen the CIMBA program as
the students work towards bringing their vision to life. A vision with buy-in power
created through a process, which seeks to build upon “what works” and one that will set
the stage for the student’s career experience beyond graduation and leave a legacy of
business leaders for Lawrence Technological University unparalleled in the MBA
industry. Leaders for the 21st century!

                                                                   Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal


   As you know, Appreciative Inquiry is the theme of my project work for Module 6,

which is the last leg of a two-year journey in obtaining my Career Integrated MBA

(CIMBA) at Lawrence Technological University (LTU). As part of my project work for

Module 6, I initially had intended to complete a small Appreciative Inquiry within my

current business unit at AAA Michigan. I had written a proposal and secured permission

from my manager. Then circumstances entered the timeframe, which seriously delayed

the start of this case study. First, my manager unexpectedly announced she was leaving

AAA Michigan after 26 years and moving to Arizona within the month. This of course

changed the priority and time availability within the unit since there is still no immediate

attention by upper management in filling her position in the near future. Second, I came

down with a respiratory virus that literally stopped me dead in my tracks. I had to take a

few days off work and could do nothing but stair at the ceiling.

   The information above is not intended to solicit sympathy or submit excuse for what

follows. The purpose of my sharing of these experiences is to provide you with a

glimpse into the fascinating way ideas emerge from the circumstances of life that connect

each of us together through our thoughts and deeds.

   Feeling the pressure of deadlines approaching, I was in a mental quagmire of what to

do for my case study since I was unsuccessful in coordinating time with my business unit.

Then on 06-15-2001, after the wonderful presentation provided by the guest speaker, Gus

Martinez of DBM, the seed of an idea was planted within me. Not from Mr. Martinez,

but from a sincere and deeply heartfelt and brief discussion between Laura Majewski, the

Director of the fledgling CIMBA program, and the class. I sensed Laura’s deep desire to

                                                                  Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

create a CIMBA program that was truly unique and which provided the student with

something more than the traditional MBA program could provide. Concern was

expressed about delivering to the student a two-year program that would solidify the

interlocking relationship of each module; encourage retention of the material and

experience gained; and lay the foundation for the development of the student into the

professional business leader envisioned by Lawrence Technological University; a

business leader who exemplifies, knowledge, wisdom, integrity, and a heart for people - a

business leader for the 21st century. What follows is my proposal for introducing into the

CIMBA program an Appreciative Inquiry experience that would facilitate the goals for

CIMBA that were previously mentioned.

Statement of Purpose:

   The purpose of this proposal is to introduce to the executive staff for CIMBA a plan

for incorporating the theory and application of Appreciative Inquiry into the two-year

CIMBA program with the expressed goal of facilitating the development of the CIMBA

student in understanding the interlocking relationship of each module; retaining the

material introduced in the program; and to lay the foundation for the development of the

student into the professional business leader envisioned by Lawrence Technological


Background of CIMBA:

   CIMBA is the innovative and refreshingly new MBA program designed to meet the

needs of those students who currently are employed in the business community. The

acronym stands for Career Integrated Masters of Business Administration. CIMBA is a

two-year academic journey in which the material and experience of an MBA curriculum

                                                                   Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

is presented in six modules. Students are accepted into CIMBA through a review process

similar to that used by potential employers. The student submits a resume describing his

or her career and academic achievements to date and is then interviewed by a committee

of CIMBA representatives. Unlike the traditional MBA program, CIMBA is a “cohort”

program. The students beginning Module 1 will progress through each subsequent

module together. (Needless to say, there is a fair degree of bonding that can occur

between people who share in any journey for any length of time; although the degree and

strength of the bond depends on the many factors of the group’s evolvement through the

time provided.) The inaugural class for CIMBA began their journey in September 1999

and will be graduating in July 2001. Through the experience of this first class of

students, the executive and teaching staff gained much insight into developing the most

effective and rewarding program possible.

   It was during Module 4 for this inaugural class that Dr. Jacqueline Stavros (an

esteemed member of the CIMBA teaching and executive staff) first introduced

Appreciative Inquiry as a revolutionary new approach to organizational development and


What is Appreciative Inquiry?

   In the 1980’s Dr. David L. Cooperrider (professor of Management at Case Western

Reserve University) first introduced his vision for a shift in the traditional “problem

solving” paradigm, which became deeply entrenched in the culture and mindset of the

business community over years. The answer to the question, “What is Appreciative

Inquiry?” can be found in many Appreciative Inquiry publications. Claudia J. Liebler

(1997) provides one answer:

                                                                              Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

        “Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a capacity-building process that begins by valuing the organization
        and the culture in which it is embedded; by learning about the organization, its relationships, and
        its environment; and by identifying and building on existing strengths rather than examining in
        detail problems and deficiencies. Appreciative Inquiry puts organizations back in touch with their
        "deepest living values." And it can help an organization create its niche by identifying its
        collective hopes and dreams and then designing a process for realizing them.

        Over time, Appreciative Inquiry develops four important competencies that support the unfolding
        of an on-going appreciative learning culture: affirmative competence - the capacity to focus on
        what the organization has done well in the past and is doing well in the present; generative
        competence - a capacity to allow members to experience the impact of their contribution toward a
        higher purpose; expansive competence - the ability to go beyond familiar ways of thinking; and
        collaborative competence - the power of dialogue to transform systems. (These ideas are from
        Creating Appreciative Learning Cultures by Frank J. Barrett.)

        The initial Appreciative Inquiry change intervention that we most frequently use guides
        participants through activities that follow the 4-D model (discovery, dream, design, and delivery),
        and takes place in a retreat setting over the course of three to six days. Appreciative Inquiry is
        based on the premise that many participate in the process and that, by their doing so, commitment
        to the organization is deepened and members are actively helping to create it's future. The process
        can be a helpful approach in any planning effort requiring strategic vision, collective action,
        multiple parties, and an empowering context for innovation and development.”

   Though Ms. Liebler’s answer is targeted for an audience of people working with or on

behalf of Non-Governmental Organizations, her message applies to any organization that

wants or needs to evolve into their very best.

   What’s important to note at this point is that Appreciative Inquiry is not a pie-in-the-

sky ideal or methodology. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is practical and pragmatic because

the vision of the organizations future-state grows out of its past real-life experiences. The

best of the past is brought forward, amplified, and grown into the organizations vision of

the future.

The Principles of Appreciative Inquiry:

   There are five Principles of Appreciative Inquiry that must be regarded as essential for

the application of AI to be truly effective. According to Cooperrider and Whitney (1999)

these five Principles are as follows:

                                                                              Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

      The Constructionist Principle: Human knowledge and organizational destiny are interwoven. To
       be effective, we must understand organizations as living, human constructions.

      The Principle of Simultaneity: Inquiry and change are not separate moments but are simultaneous.

      The Poetic Principle: Human organizations are like open books. The story of the system is
       constantly being co-authored, and it is open to infinite interpretations.

      The Anticipatory Principle: Our positive images of the future lead our positive actions-this is the
       increasingly energizing basis and presumption of Appreciative Inquiry.

      Positive Principle: Our experience is that building and sustaining momentum for change requires
       large amounts of positive outlook and social bonding-things like hope, excitement, inspiration,
       caring, camaraderie, sense of urgent purpose, and sheer joy in creating something meaningful
       together. We find that the more positive the question we ask, the more long-lasting and successful
       the change effort.

The Appreciative Inquiry 4D Model:

   Dr. Cooperrider, as a way to introduce a framework for the Appreciative Inquiry to be

completed, first introduced a 3D Model in 1990 while consulting on Appreciative Inquiry

in Romania, which later in the year was developed into the following 4D Model through

the GEM initiative (Global Excellence in Management). (Watkins & Mohr, 2001). An

outline of the 4D Model follows:

 Initial Step: Determine an Appreciative Topic around which the Inquiry will be

   focused. This is the most critical part of the AI process because of the understanding

   that the topic choice is “fateful.”

 Discovery: Uncovering and valuing the best of “What Is.” This is where information

   is generated through energizing Appreciative Interviews conducted with the people

   within the organization as well as any other stakeholders deemed important for a

   successful Inquiry. The main focus of the interview is the Appreciative Topic.

 Dream: Envisioning “What Might Be.” All participants in the inquiry uncover

   themes that were discovered from the interview process and envision the possibilities.

                                                                   Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

 Design: Determining “What Should Be.” All participants begin to zero in on a vision

   that is pragmatic, rooted in the strengths uncovered, and is achievable. This is where

   “provocative propositions” are created which form a living document representing the

   consensual and co-created vision for the organization.

 Destiny: Growing “What Will Be.” Now the member’s of the organization begin the

   planning and implementation process to bring their vision to life. Members are

   committed to do what is needed and plan accordingly.

   This model is only a simple framework for conducting a very deep and moving

Appreciative Inquiry. There are many variations and timetables in the application of AI.

Appreciative Inquiry is by fundamental nature a generative process and thus will also

evolve to what the scenario calls for. Depending on the scale of the organizational

change, application of AI can be accomplished in a day or require multiple-day summits

or retreats. The AI process does not end when Destiny begins. By nature it should begin

rooting itself into the culture of the organization and perpetuate further change around

other Appreciative Topics the organization desires to move towards.

What Can Appreciative Inquiry Theory And Application Offer To

CIMBA Students?

   By involving Appreciative Inquiry in the student’s development through CIMBA,

students will, in my opinion, experience the following benefits:

 Students will understand the depth and importance of their role and responsibility in

   the organizations they serve as business leaders in this increasingly global and diverse

   world society.

                                                                   Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

 Students develop into effective business leaders during their time in CIMBA by

   developing the understanding that organizations are “mysteries to be embraced”

   instead of “problems to be solved.”

 Students will develop into the Appreciative Leaders needed in today’s world

 Students build upon their own strengths as they collectively collaborate on creating a

   vision of what the “ultimate” business leader should be like.

 The process of co-creation into the vision suggested above should inadvertently

   strengthen the retention of the material learned through CIMBA since the material

   will support the vision.

 The ensuing commitment that the students will develop to reach their “Destiny” will

   help facilitate the integration of each module in CIMBA since each module’s role is

   to create a sound foundation of theory and practice in business and leadership.

 By going through a real Appreciative Inquiry, students will have a deep

   understanding of what Appreciative Inquiry can do for them when they enter the

   business community as leaders. It will become a memorable tool in their toolbox.

What Can Appreciative Inquiry Offer CIMBA?

 A unique selling position to market against other similar MBA programs.

 A legacy of developing business leaders who are mentally positioned and ready to

   lead in this fast and diverse century as they go out into the business community with

   the mindset that organizations are “mysteries to be embraced.”

 Documented stories of high points and strengths that are accumulated through the

   Appreciative Interviews conducted within each cohort. These stories can be

                                                                   Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

   published and used to strengthen the image and caliber of Lawrence Technological

   University and the CIMBA program.

 Each cohort develops his or her co-created vision of the “ultimate” business leader.

   These visions can be fed back into the CIMBA program to strengthen each module

   for future cohorts.

Suggested Plan For Incorporating The Application Of Appreciative

Inquiry Into CIMBA:

   What follows next is a suggested plan for incorporating the theory and application of

Appreciative Inquiry into the actual CIMBA program. In-depth discussion amongst the

key decision makers for CIMBA, my associates, and myself should be engaged before

implementing this plan.

Underlying Premise:

   Each student within CIMBA has either experienced what they believed to be

exceptional leadership either in the capacity of being a leader or in the capacity being a

follower throughout their business career and their life. Therefore each student has at one

time or another experienced a moment when the leadership experience was truly

exceptional and of high value to the connection and success of the organization - When

leadership was exercised at its best!

Preliminary Step - Choosing the Appreciative Topic:

   The key decision makers for CIMBA should come to an agreement on how the

Appreciative Topic should be worded for maximum AI potential. For example, the topic

could be worded as: “Visions of Ultimate Leadership.” The topic that is chosen will then

drive the Appreciative Inquiry Interviews that will be conducted with the students.

                                                                   Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

Additionally, the same group of decision-makers will also collaborate on developing an

appropriate Interview Protocol to be used during the Discovery phase.

Module 1:

   One Friday night session should be used to introduce the students to Appreciative

Inquiry. This would include a warm up mini-interview session where students get a

flavor for AI and experience the interview process.

   Module 1 is when the Appreciative Interviews will be conducted, which begin the

actual Inquiry. This is the Discovery phase of the 4D Model. At the moment, I believe

the interview process could be conducted with students breaking into pairs and

conducting the interviews with each other. An Interview Protocol will be developed as

indicated earlier to guide the Inquiry. (A sample Interview Protocol is provided in

Appendix A of this proposal.) This Discovery phase can be completed within a Friday

night session. Typical interview times are 45 minutes to an hour. It could be suggested

that each pair of students are provided with a recording device and audiotapes to capture

the stories as they unfold. The remaining two hours of the night would be devoted to a

feedback session to help deepen the Inquiry process the students experienced. The

facilitator would collect the tapes for transcription and compile the stories into a bound

volume to be distributed to each student in the class.

   Students will then use the stories (data) collected from the Discovery phase to

complete the Dream and Design phases and begin the initial steps towards Destiny. This

session will most likely require a full Saturday. The end goal of this session would be for

the students to co-create Provocative Propositions, which would represent their collective

vision of the ultimate leader (or whatever the topic actually was) and what they will

                                                                   Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

commit to do to bring that vision to life within themselves by the end of Module 6.

Students will discuss the steps they want to engage in as they journey toward becoming

the leader they envisioned. This is the beginning of the Destiny phase. I would consider

this phase open ended; meaning the transformation will be continually reinforced through

supportive activity the students engage in throughout the rest of Module 1 and through to

Module 6.

       Module 1 Investments:

       Class time needed in Module 1:         2 Friday evening sessions and

                                              1 full Saturday session

       Equipment Needed in Module 1:          15 tape recorders,

                                              30 90-minute audiocassettes

                                              Flip Charts and markers

       Ancillary Services Needed:             Transcription of audiocassettes

                                              Printing of bound interview data

Modules 2 – 6:

   The Provocative Propositions created in Module 1 will be displayed in the classroom

during each class session as a visual reminder to the students. At least two two-hour

sessions should be scheduled within each Module. One session to be scheduled towards

the beginning of the Module and one session scheduled towards the end of the Module.

The goal of each session is to reinforce the vision created of the ultimate leader and

establish a self-motivating atmosphere for the students to do what is necessary to ensure

the vision is embodied within their being by graduation.

                                                                     Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

Modules 2 – 6 Investments:

        Class Time Needed in Modules 2 – 6:            2 two-hour reinforcement sessions

        At the moment, no additional services are needed for the remainder of the


Who would facilitate the Appreciative Inquiry process?

In keeping with my career objectives, I respectfully submit my intention to be the

facilitator of the Appreciative Inquiry process for CIMBA. Details of this arrangement

can be discussed if there is an interest in exploring the possibilities of this proposal.


   I strongly believe that introducing Appreciative Inquiry into the curriculum of the

CIMBA program will help facilitate the transformation of CIMBA students into the

cutting edge leaders envisioned by the executive staff of Lawrence Technological

University. The students enrolled in CIMBA will change during their two-year journey.

That much is certain. They will eventually become leaders of business in some capacity.

   The student cohort of CIMBA is indeed a human sub-system within the organization

of the college institution. These students will grow together as a group. These people

seek to transform into business leaders exemplifying characteristics such as knowledge,

wisdom, integrity, and a heart for people. Appreciative Inquiry will help the students

achieve their vision through the uncovering of their strengths upon which their co-created

vision will be built.

   On 06-15-2001, I heard the aspirations of the Director of CIMBA for the quality of the

CIMBA program to be unparalleled in the industry. I believe that applying Appreciative

Inquiry will only strengthen the keel of an already sound and sea worthy vessel upon

                                                                Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

which CIMBA students embark upon for their two-year transformation into business

leaders for the 21st century.


   Cooperrider, D. L., & Whitney, D. (1999a). Appreciative Inquiry. SanFrancisco, CA:

Berrett-Koehler Communications, Inc.

   Liebler, C. J. (1997). Getting Comfortable With Appreciative Inquiry: Questions and

Answers. Global Social Innovations, Journal of the GEM Initiative, 1(2), 30-40.

   Watkins, J. M., & Mohr, B. (2001). Appreciative Inquiry: Change at the Speed of

Imagination. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

                                                                         Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

Appendix A:

Example Interview Protocol To Be Used In The Appreciative Inquiry
Process For CIMBA:

NOTE: The Appreciative Topic and Topic Questions within the following Interview Protocol where found
in, An Encyclopedia of Positive Questions, volume 1: Using Appreciative Inquiry To Bring Out The Best
In Your organization by Diana Whitney, Ph.D., David Cooperrider, Ph.D., Amanda Trosten-Bloom, and
Brian Kaplin.

Part 1: Introduction

Congratulations on your choice of and selection into the CIMBA program here at
Lawrence Technological University. You must feel a sense of pride in taking the steps
that will positively transform your life and your career. Before we learn of your moments
when you experienced inspirational leadership, let us begin our conversation by engaging
in a couple of questions to set the stage:

1. Please tell me about your initial attraction to CIMBA. What inspired you to apply?

2. Describe a high point experience – a time when you felt most alive and engaged as a

3. What do you value most about: Yourself? Your work? Your college of choice?

4. In your opinion, what is the core factor that gives life to organizing that without it the
   organization would not be the same?

Part 2: Inspirational Leadership

People work best in the presence of inspirational leadership. When leaders exhibit
enthusiasm and commitment to the task or project, people will “go the extra mile” and do
whatever it takes to get the job done. Inspirational leaders bring out the best in people;
they engage people in creating the organization’s vision and values, in setting goals and
objectives and in designing work processes. Inspirational leaders balance the needs and
interests of employees, customers, and the business. They encourage excellence in others
as well as pursuing it themselves. They lead by example and demonstrate integrity in all
that they do.

1. Recall a time when you worked with someone you considered an inspirational leader.
   Describe the situation. What made it inspirational for you? Who was the leader and
   what did she or he do that inspired you?

2. What do you most value and appreciate about leadership back in your organization?

                                                               Burke – CIMBA AI Proposal

3. Tell me about a time when “you” where the source of inspirational leadership? What
   created the sense of inspirational leadership? How did you feel at the time? How did
   others respond?

Part 3: Conclusion

Now let us look down the road.

1. What are three positive macro trends happening in the world today and what new
   possibilities are they creating for successful MBA students who desire to be
   inspirational leaders in the business community and beyond?

2. Imagine you are at your CIMBA graduation receiving your MBA diploma. You have
   been transformed into the type of business leader you believe to be a positive
   influence in today’s global economy. What three leadership characteristics have you
   developed within yourself during your journey through the CIMBA program that you
   will carry into your future career?


Jun Wang Jun Wang Dr
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