Appreciative Inquiry

The questions we ask set the direction for our attention.

“Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a method for studying and changing social systems (groups, organizations, communities) that advocates collective inquiry into the best of what is in order to imagine what could be, followed by collective design of a desired future state that is compelling and thus, does not require the use of incentives, coercion or persuasion for planned change to occur.”  – Gervase R. Rushe (2013)

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This model does not assume that something is “wrong” and needs to be fixed by making change, but that organizations can change by understanding and valuing the aspects of its culture that are strongest.  Appreciative Inquiry (AI) thus falls into the family of strength-based methods.

Those who participate in AI-based planning also tend to generate a lot of energy that helps promote and sustain change.

This table summarizes the differences between problem-solving, a traditional approach to change, and Appreciative Inquiry:

Problem Solving Appreciative inquiry
Felt need, identification of problem(s) Appreciating, valuing the Best of What Is
Analysis of Causes Envisioning what might be
Analysis of possible solutions Engaging in dialogue about what should be
Action Planning (treatment) Innovating, what will be