Over a year ago, The River embarked on a strategic planning journey. We used a process called Appreciative Inquiry. Part of this process involved holding a summit for all our stakeholders (clients, volunteers, donors, staff, and community members) to voice their desires for our organization. Together, we determined the strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results that will empower and embolden the future of The River. Throughout this process, our efforts were facilitated by Jay Ekleberry. Read Jay’s explanation below on the Appreciative Inquiry process and why it is used.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a strength-based, active research process designed to identify an organization’s strengths and use those strengths to name and then create the desired future for that group. The SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results) process, within the Appreciative Inquiry approach, is a strategic thinking process that uses the identified strengths to help author opportunities moving forward. The organization and its stakeholders then use those strengths and opportunities to co-author what the group should aspire to be. Finally, having named the system’s strengths, opportunities, and aspirations, the group decides which results will be the best measure of success for moving towards the names aspirations. The incredible success and history of The River, plus the demonstrated commitment of volunteers, staff and donors, made The River an ideal organization to engage in the SOAR process.
About Jay Ekleberry
Lead Facilitator, Jay Ekleberry, is the recently retired Director of Wheelhouse Studios, Wisconsin Union, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has promoted and taught Appreciative Inquiry both at UW and across the Madison community since discovering the power of AI in 2004 and becoming certified as an AI Facilitator in 2006. Jay has a Masters Degree in Adult Education from UW-Madison and is also a certified Master Trainer in Dialog Education.