I was in touch with a business colleague this week who uses appreciative enquiry in her coaching (you start by looking at what’s good and how you can make it better) and she mentioned to me her latest research is in the area of Appreciative Intelligence.  This got my attention as I had not heard of it before, but I do know about emotional intelligence, spiritual intellligence etc.  

When I did some research myself I learned that Appreciative Intelligence is defined as the ability to perceive the positive inherent generative potential within the present.
More simply, it is “the ability to see the mighty oak in the acorn or to reframe a given situation (or person), to appreciate
its positive aspects, and to see how the future unfolds from the
generative aspects of the current situation.”

There are three components:

  1. Reframing – which is about shifting reality by choosing what feedback
    we will ignore and what feedback we will pay attention to. 
  2. Appreciating
    the positive
    – is the ability to see the positive aspects of any given
    situation. Appreciative
    intelligence is the mindset that allows you to step back and access the
    situation and move forward instead of being thwarted by circumstances.
  3. Seeing how the future unfolds from the present – is about seeing what can be done instead of what can’t be done.

Appreciative intelligence can be developed by consciously
thinking about your responses to situations as they occur. For example, if you did not win the contract you were bidding for – your response could be “that’s great” instead of “oh, what a pity”  which forces you to question your assumptions (what you know to be right) and look for the positive and different meaning in the situation. 

Learn to become a first-class noticer, which will help to improve your appreciative intelligence   Add into the mix qualities of persistence, conviction that what you do matters and plenty of resilience and you will be able to find the positive in most situations!

Examples of Appreciative Intelligence

One example is Silicon Valley. What makes that place so enticing and effective for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists?  According to Tojo Thatchenkery, it was the venture capitalists that created an environment of “how can I make this work?” rather than “what the chances that this business idea will fail?” encouraged an more positive outlook on what could be achieved, which drew people to this place.

I also think that there was a great example of this closer to home when the Faringdon Enterprise Gateway existed. This was a business hatchery set up by government funding and provided service office space, on-site business support advice and workshops for early stage businesses.  The key to it was the Gateway Director, who lived and breathed the principles of Appreciative Intelligence.  As a result people with a similar “can-do” attitude were attracted to be involved and it was very successful. Sadly due to changes in policy it was closed last year.  (Now I am meant to think “that’s great” and look for the positives in this…..note to self – “improve appreciative intelligence!”)