Kepner Tregoe, Appreciative Inquiry and Appreciative Planning and Action

Now that I’ve checked-out as a Kepner Tregoe program leader I’ve been doing some background research and came across Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and Appreciative Planning and Action (APA).

From what I can tell it’s a approach based on positive change rather than problems. Given the connections it has with Nepal I would guess that there’s a Buddhist angle to this, cf Gross National Happiness (GNH).

Malcolm Odell appears to be a significant figure in this area. New World Coaching has him listed as:

Malcolm Odell, AI Consulting co-owner and creator of the Appreciative Planning and Action process (APA)

Malcolm wrote a review of the The New Rational Manager (ISBN 0-9715627-1-7). I’ve taken the liberty of make a PDF file of it here:

Food for thought.


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  1. Andrew Vermes

     /  May 10, 2006

    AI (or AE in the UK) shares a logic with Sitiation Appraisal, but reminds us that “Concerns” should include positives. It’s understandable in the SGR context that we focus on issues that impact negatively, but when using SA for team work, or projects, we should take care to list things that are going well, too. A helpful article is here:

  2. Thanks for the pointer. IIRC in SA we list things that we feel we need to do something about. Concerns usually have that as we wish to correct them but opportunities are so often forgotten. Why did that meeting go <em>well</em>? Why did that particular customer <em>recommend</em> us to so many others? etc
    I’ll read the article and report back. I’m interested to see if they also recommend listing the postives that we do <em>not</em> need to do anything about.

  3. Hi Peter,
    I just stumbled on your blog comments on my Kepner-Tregoe article and would love to know your recent thoughts since it’s bee a couple of years since you began working with KT and took a AI look at it. I’ve worked with David and Polly Wessel, who were with KT for years, about how AI and my own ‘short, sweet’ adaptation APA can contribute to enhanced, more effective problem solving. What are your most recent experiences, thoughts?

  4. I’ve not given AI much thought in recent years. The times when I’m most likely to return to this are when I’m preparing to teach the SGR (KT-Resolve) workshop – or on holiday when I have time to think.
    The latter is one of my issues with the day job – it’s all too easy to rush from one thing to another without spending sufficient time thinking. "Doing" feels more productive than "thinking", Andrew Vermes once commented that we spend all our time doing PA and DA (problem and decision analysis) rather than SA and PPA (situation appraisal, potential problem analysis).
    I’ve recently been trained to teach "Incident Mapping" which is a KT technique to map out cause and effect chains. Typical use is RCA (root cause analysis) but in a broader sense it allows you to learn from experience by mapping out the big picture. I have a fleeting memory of a "positive" spin on IM discussed during the training where we considered what was the cause of something going right.
    Once again I’m reminded of how much we focus on the negative. I recommend Nancy Etcoff’s talk on happiness at TED:
    From the transcript at:
    She says:
    "It in part reflects the anatomy of the human emotion system. Which is that we have both a positive and a negative system. And our negative system is extremely sensitive. It is our sentinel. It is there to protect us against danger. So for example, we’re born loving the taste of something sweet, and reacting adversely to the taste of something bitter. Yet we are much more sensitive to the bitter than the sweet. We can detect the bitter at one part per two million. We can detect the sweet at one part per 200. We also find the people are more averse to losing than they are happy to gain."


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