- Paperback: 146 pages
- Publisher: Lakeshore Communications (Oct 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1893435334
- ISBN-13: 978-1893435339
- Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.6 x 1 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,187,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
This "encyclopedia" lists sample questions, usually three per topic, on a variety of issues that are arranged alphabetically (like an encyclopedia). I have two problems. One is that the topics might have better been grouped, e.g., those dealing with Mission and Vision, those dealing with Marketing (customers, products, quality), and so on. The other problem I have is that the questions after a while all sound somewhat similar. This would have been a more useful book, I think, if more space had been devoted to how to frame and ask questions. That particular chapter is rather brief but helpful.
Unfortunately the last 70 pages (of a 150-page book) could have been almost entirely eliminated. A chapter gives a template for a sample interview. It then makes it concrete by simply adding the phrase "the Human Resources Department at XYZ company" in the "Company Name" space of the template. There then follow four copies of the same blank template for the reader's use. Why four copies I don't know, unless the reader doesn't have a computer or copy machine. Is one supposed to cut out each copy for use? One simple chapter explaining the template would have been fine. The "sample interview" was a total waste, as were the four copies of the same template presented earlier.
While, as a planning consultant I think AI is a good tool for information gathering and assessment, I don't think I would find myself reaching for this book on a regular or even seldom basis.
I think the book to be written has to do with gathering positive information from people but also dealing with negative information. People will share positive experiences and hopes and are too infrequently asked for them, but they will also want to "vent" with negative information and an AI researcher needs to know how to react to and absorb and use that as well. The danger is that AI becomes a reaction to negativity (we all love to complain) and so simply tips the scales in the other direction rather than achieving balance in gaining people's contributions for change.
Whenever possible, I always move towards engaging members of the community or team or organization with which I'm working in the co-writing of the appreciative protocol. Such a co-constructionist approach invariably leads to more vibrant language, terms and phrases that are part of the culture yet expand it - and generally a better set of questions than anything I produce on my own. (and of course such a process also builds internal capability!)
But sometimes my best efforts to enage the client system come to no avail and so I find myself sitting in my hotel room in front of my laptop, facing a blank page. It is at those moments that this book really shines for me. The questions listed here serve as a stimulant, a point of departure and as a surrogate for a co-creator(s).
If you understand Appreciative Inquiry, and if you have learned the skills of question development, then this book is a gem for those times when no one else is around. !