Appreciative Eye / Critical Eye

c.f: Activity- Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Eye

The appreciative eye seeks to learn by examining the best of what is in any given experience.  It seeks to discover what is most life-giving in any system we choose to study — the distinctive competencies that sustain its health and vitality.  disciplined inquiry into the forces that create health and personal effectiveness allows us to learn how to foster these in
systems (and in our own lives).    We can use this knowledge to ignite our imagination about what is possible, to develop a vision that unleashes forward momentum, and creation of plans for achieving it.  Thus, the primary motivating force is hope and desire.  Use of the Appreciative Eye as a basis for learning and discover unleashes transformational change and growth.  There are several important criteria for learning with an Appreciative Eye:

  • Appreciative learning must begin with understanding the best of what currently is as a foundation for envisioning what could be.
  • Appreciative learning must be applicable — useful to the learner in the context of their lived experience.
  • Appreciative learning must be relational — reality can be understood only through processes of shared meaning making.  Learners collaborate in co-creation of the system and assume responsibility for creating a learning community that enhances the personal and professional development of each member.
  • Appreciative learning must be provocative, helping us see possibilities for becoming more than we are at any given moment; it should stretch us beyond the limits of our current comfort zone.  In doing this, we learn to actively guide our own evolution.
  • Appreciative learning is artistic and creative, relying on multiple channels for meaning making and communication; it is fundamentally whole-brain, whole-system learning.
  • Appreciative learning is generative — it unleashes processes of wonder, curiosity, motivation, hope, and optimism that transforms the learner and the learning context.

Critical Eye

Disciplined inquiry into both the strengths / benefits and the limitations / costs of a given situation, point of view, action or system allows problems to be identified so that good solutions can be found.  Thus, the primary motivating force is the intent to avoid repeating mistakes and their consequences.  The Critical Eye attempts to uncover the core assumptions
underlying a position or action, and seeks evidence that supports the position or action being advocated.  Criteria for learning with Critical Eye:

  • Critical learning begins with primary focus on what is missing that, if present, would improve a situation, position, or action.
  • Critical learning is conceptual and analytical — it enhances the capacity to diagnose and solve problems in systems.
  • Critical learning  requires evidence to support positions — and critical thought about what constitutes “evidence.”
  • Critical learning  is reductive in that it breaks problems into parts and attempts to understand the parts in order to help the whole.

Source: “Using the Appreciative Eye and the Critical Eye in Learning”

LIOS Handout, based on the wok of David Cooperrider.


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  • Teams create success based on how effectively the communicate and coordinate with each other.
  • Entrepreneurial ventures are successful only when they communicate value to people with a concern that the business can take care of
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