What is Appreciative Inquiry?

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is part of the discipline of positive change articulated by two professors at the Weatherhead School of Management, David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva, 1987. Appreciative Inquiry is about the search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them. In its broadest focus, it involves systematic discovery of what gives “life” to a living system when it is most alive, most effective, and most constructively capable in economic, ecological, and human terms.
from A Positive Revolution in Change: Appreciative Inquiry by David L. Cooperrider and Diana Whitney.
Ap-pre’ci-ate, v., 1. valuing; the act of recognizing the best in people or the world around us; affirming past and present strengths, successes, and potentials; to perceive those things that give life (health, vitality, excellence) to living systems 2. to increase in value, e.g. the economy has appreciated in value. Synonyms: VALUING, PRIZING, ESTEEMING, and HONORING.
In-quire’ (kwir), v., 1. the act of exploration and discovery. 2. To ask questions; to be open to seeing new potentials and possibilities. Synonyms: DISCOVERY, SEARCH, and SYSTEMATIC EXPLORATION, STUDY.
AI involves the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential. It involves the mobilization of inquiry by crafting the “unconditional positive question” often-involving hundreds or sometimes thousands of people.

Appreciative Inquiry in Business

The process of “appreciative inquiry” gives your company a boost by leveraging what you already do well. Applying AI to your business uses a series of tasks to identify possible positive changes to work towards your business goals.

These tasks are to:

  • Identify where the company’s processes work well,
  • Envision the processes that potentially could work perfectly all the time,
  • Define and prioritize the elements that would contribute to the processes consistently working perfectly, and
  • Design a business structure that will develop and maintain these processes within the business goals.
AI uses a deliberate approach to tap into your company’s positive core, defined as “the collective wisdom, knowledge, strategies, attitudes, skills, and capabilities of the organization at its best” (Amanda Trosten-Bloom, The Power of Appreciative Inquiry). AI can be used as a method for managing change and a strategy for organization development within your. AI can be used to identify the factors that operate in any organization when it is most alive, most effective, and most capable. “AI” focuses on what is positive in your company, that is all the things you would like to encourage, and uses this information as the basis for organizational change and development and for individual professional growth.
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