From Deficit Discourse to Vocabularies of Hope: The Power of Appreciation
Author: James Ludema
Appreciative Inquiry: An Emerging Direction for Organization Development
This chapter proposes that in today’s world of high uncertainty and broad cultural and epistemological variety the purpose of social and organizational inquiry ought to be to create textured vocabularies of hope–stories, theories, evidence, and illustrations–that provide organizations and communities with new guiding images of relational possibility. After showing how the critical methods of contemporary organizational science have contributed to a growing cynicism about the future of human institutions by producing vocabularies of deficit, the dynamics of hopeful vocabularies in human systems are explored. A broad review of the literature suggests that vocabularies of hope serve as powerful catalyst for positive social and organizational transformation. They are ignited when organizational members (1) nurture cooperative relationships, (2) exercise a sense of optimism about their capacity to influence the future, and (3) inquire together into their most deeply held values and highest aspirations. Appreciative inquiry is offered as an alternative to critical and problem-focused inquiry methodologies. Eight core principles of appreciative inquiry that support the creation of textured vocabularies of hope are highlighted. The chapter concludes with an invitation to scholars and practitioners to experiment with new modes of appreciative inquiry that generate vocabularies of hope by posing positive questions about the life-giving, life-enhancing aspects of organizations.
Reprinted with permission from: Appreciative Inquiry: An Emerging Direction for Organization Development, Editors: David L. Cooperrider, Peter F. Sorensen, Jr., Therese F. Yaeger, and Diana Whitney.
Champaign IL: Stipes Publishing L.L.C., 2001. Copyright 2001 by Stipes Publishing L.L.C.