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Strategic Coaching – The 4D Sequence of Appreciative Enquiry


Appreciative Enquiry is one of the four approaches adopted by Strategic Coaching to develop breakthroughs in performance at an individual, team and organizational level. In turn, any Appreciative Enquiry approach consists of four main steps – the 4Ds.


Firstly, though ……


What is Appreciative Enquiry?

Appreciative Enquiry is based on the belief that people can create positive change by concentrating on what they want more of, rather than problems, i.e. what they want less of, and that what people want more of already exists, is already happening, albeit to a small degree, at an individual, team or organizational level.


Appreciative Enquiry and its role in Change

Arguably, one definition of Change Management is ‘the process of managing the implementation of changes into a working population that has had little say in these changes’.

Unlike traditional approaches, Appreciative Enquiry creates internally generated, participative approaches to what needs to be achieved by highlighting positive qualities and peak experiences.


The essence of Appreciative Enquiry

Ultimately, Appreciative Enquiry contends that it is wasteful of time, money and energy for individuals, teams and organizations to analyze, articulate and agonize about gaps in performance, about problems, about ‘not being good enough’. Appreciative Enquiry advocates that people concentrate on helping themselves, their teams and

their organizations, find out what they are very good at, and help them take action to do more of it.


The 4D Sequence of Appreciative Enquiry

The 4D Sequence is the classic approach to any appreciative enquiry, be it on an individual, team or organizational level. For the purpose of this illustration, we’ll use the context of the organization.


1. Discovery:

The first D begins the Appreciative Enquiry with the questioning of individuals and groups, large and/or small, about times when they felt/feel most excited, energized, fulfilled about their involvement in the organization, and the reasons that lie behind these feelings. This Discovery phase is seeking out common positive themes which provide the material for the next stage in the sequence.


2. Dream:

During this stage, very clear, results oriented pictures are created of what the organization would look like in the future when these common, positive themes are adopted across the board. Once this vision is created, it is then carried through to


3. Design:

This is when the vision, built on common positive themes, is developed into the proposition of the organization, growing from what the organization would look like into the detailed design of its structures, processes and purposeful activities.


4. Do!:

The last stage in the sequence where action plans begin to bring the proposition to life. The 4D sequence discusses and identifies what really works, builds a picture of the future based on that, constructs processes and structures that will support that future – and takes action to start building it!


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