Serendipity plays a role in the articles we read and the ways that we chance upon new ideas, and serendipity brought me to appreciative inquiry (AI). AI, at its heart, is about studying, exploring, actively searching out the best and focusing on what is good, strong, already working and being achieved in organisations. It has been utilised and reported as being effective and transformative in many different aspects of organisational change and change management. AI is based on the 4-D cycle which consists of four phases ” discovery (the best of what is or has been), dreaming (what might be), designing (what should be) and destiny (what will be). The cycle starts with the choice of an affirmative topic to study. We used AI successfully within a research study that looked at best practice within multi-agency working with children with complex needs (and their families). Whilst AI is reported, and we experienced it, as an interesting, stimulating and creative way of researching, it is not a panacea and will not provide a “cure all” for all the ills of the health, social care, education and voluntary services. It does, however, provide one way forward. At its best AI's non-problem orientation means that researchers study what is already working well (is clinically effective). Acknowledging existing clinical effectiveness provides a platform for envisaging and developing even better nursing, health and social care practices.
- Appreciative inquiry
- Complex needs