Shannon also facilitates large-scale change processes using a method called Appreciative Inquiry. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a positive, strengths-based approach to change that seeks to discover the best in people, their organisations and the world at large. The foundational belief is that every living system has something that works well already, where people have experienced some success, some satisfaction, something positive in their lives and that success is best achieved by building on these strengths.

It is grounded in the belief that we live in a world our questions create. This is because the questions we ask determine the results we get. In fact, Peter Drucker once noted that the most common mistake in management decisions is the emphasis on finding the right answer, rather than asking the right question.   Thus, given that change begins with the very first question we ask, Appreciative Inquiry focuses on asking positive questions that seek the true, the good and the possible to energise people and pull them forward.

Appreciative Inquiry applies a process known as the 4-D cycle. Anchored around a positive topic of inquiry, for example “Creating Highly Valued Client Relationships” (see over), the cycle is as follows: Discover – to discover and appreciate the best of what is by sharing stories of high-point experiences, highlighting strengths, capabilities and assets; Dream – to imaginatively envision what might be based on past successes, current strengths and future possibilities; Design – to construct pathways that will support, develop and manifest movement from the current state towards the future opportunity; and Destiny – to sustain momentum by inviting responsibility to take action and build capacity with an appreciative eye.