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Changing Software Development: Learning to Become Agile by Allan Kelly

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8.6. Appreciative Inquiry

Many of the change theories that we have looked at so far start from an assumption: There's a problem and we need to fix it. This isn't really surprising: it's the way many of us have been taught to think. However, this does have some negative consequences. If you come looking for a problem, you'll find one. In fact, you'll find more than one, and in the process you risk creating a negative mindset and invoking personal defences.

Fortunately, there is an alternative approach and it's compatible with the change through learning approach taken in this book. The technique is called Appreciative Inquiry (AI)[] and it starts from the positive: Let's look at what's good here and see how we can make it even better.

[] See Cooperrider and Srivastva (1987).

8.6.1. The Change Trap

When faced with a failure, or a failing situation, people naturally get protective and try to avoid problems. Failure can breed fear and uncertainty. Some people will react by sticking their heads in the sand to avoid the problems, while others will redouble their efforts at what they know.

Neither reaction is good for creating change. Those with their heads in the sand won't see the need for change, while those who are working harder will be too busy to hear the message or take part in attempts to improve anything. Either way, people will seek security in what they know and fear what they don't know.

Once we embark on a 'find a problem, fix a problem' type approach, we change our mindset ...

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