MISTICA: From evaluation to valuation

From: Katherine Reilly (
Date: Fri Oct 19 2001 - 17:03:49 AST

AI and Ricardo's evaluation email


Here are some excerpts of a conversation with a friend about Appreciative
Inquiry that I thought this might spark some ideas with regards to Ricardo's
evaluation email. This is a new concept to me, but it plays nicely off of
some of the other concepts that have been tossed around among the Mistica
evaluators - like story telling. :)

I'm curious to know what people think. :)

Katherine Reilly

What is Appriative Inquiry

So… I assume that you are familiar with things like Participatory Rural
Appraisal and Action Research -- basically process in which outsiders
interested in development actually ask community members what it is that
they would like (a revolutionary concept). In general this involves
community involvement in identifying the needs of the community and how
these needs could be met. This is good, but there has been a general concern
that it leaves communities feeling that they are place full of problems that
need to be solved by outsiders.

AI changes the perspective from thinking about things from the glass is half
empty to the glass is half full perspective. Instead of looking at what the
community needs, you look at what the community has accomplished and
encourage them to build upon the strengths that they already have to achieve
a common vision for the future. The foundation for the approach is the
sharing of stories of success -- when were you most proud to live in your
community? Tell me about a time when members of the community came together
to accomplish something? What made this possible? The storytelling stage
leads to the identification of what the community would like to see happen
in the future based on their accomplishments in the past, the development of
a plan to bring this vision into being, and then going out and doing it!

One of the things that AI has been used for, both in communities and with
organizations, is evaluations. Only the general practice is to change the
name to Valuations.
For instance, come in for your staff valuation and you will be assessed on
the bases of your strengths and accomplishments over the past year. How is
it that you could build upon these strengths in the
future? What is it that the organization most appreciates about you?

If you would like to learn more about AI, I would suggest that you checkout
the following sites:
         - IISD's intro to AI, which concise:
         - A new website called the Appreciative Inquiry Commons which is
quite comprehensive and includes an intro to AI from two of the leading

         - you may also be interested in some case studies (such as the ones
by IISD |:-) ). These are more difficult to find, but I came across a half
decent one that other day from a person who has been using AI very
successfully in India and Nepal.

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