Appreciative Inquiry

Sections of this topic

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD

    Sections of This Topic Include

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Appreciative Inquiry

    In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to Appreciative Inquiry. Scan down the blog’s page to see various posts. Also, see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click on “Next” near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

    What is Appreciative Inquiry?

    Appreciative inquiry (AI) is a major breakthrough in organization development, training and development, and in “problem-solving,” in general. AI is based on the assertion that “problems” are often the result of our own perspectives and perceptions of phenomena, eg, if we look at a certain priority as a “problem,” then we tend to constrain our ability to effectively address the priority and to continue to develop in our lives and work.

    AI is a philosophy so a variety of models, tools, and techniques can be derived from that philosophy. For example, one AI-based approach to strategic planning includes identification of our best times during the best situations in the past in an organization, wishing and thinking about what worked best then, visioning what we want in the future, and building from what worked best in order to work toward our vision. The approach has revolutionized many practices, including strategic planning and organization development.

    Perhaps the best description of AI comes from its founder:

    “Appreciative Inquiry is about the coevolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them. In its broadest focus, it involves the 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. AI involves, in a central way, the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential. It centrally involves the mobilization of inquiry through the crafting of the “unconditional positive question” often involving hundreds or sometimes thousands of people. In AI the arduous task of intervention gives way to the speed of imagination and innovation; instead of negation, criticism, and spiraling diagnosis, there is discovery, dream, and design. AI seeks, fundamentally, to build a constructive union between a whole people and the massive entirety of what people talk about as past and present capacities: achievements, assets, unexplored potentials, innovations, strengths, elevated thoughts, opportunities, benchmarks, high points moments, lived values, traditions, strategic competencies, stories, expressions of wisdom, insights into the deeper corporate spirit or soul– and visions of valued and possible futures. Taking all of these together as a gestalt, AI deliberately, in everything it does, seeks to work from accounts of this “positive change core”—and it assumes that every living system has many untapped and rich and inspiring accounts of the positive. Link the energy of this core directly to any change agenda and changes never thought possible are suddenly and democratically mobilized.”
    — From Cooperrider, David and Whitney, Diana, A Positive Revolution for Change: Appreciative Inquiry (paper, 2000)

    Various Perspectives on Appreciative Inquiry

    The following links are by no means a complete list of online resources about AI. Like any other topic in the Library, the following links are to resources that can help to get you started in learning more about this topic.

    Also, consider

    For the Category of Interpersonal Skills:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

    Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.