Appreciative Inquiry

Origin of the term “Appreciative Inquiry” (aka AI)

•The “Appreciative” part of AI has to do with recognition and valuing.  The word “appreciate” is a verb that refers both to the act of recognition and the act of enhancing value.  What is appreciated and recognized in the AI process are best practices and positive experiences of a living system.
•“Inquiry” refers to the acts of exploration and discovery.  The spirit of inquiry is the spirit of learning.  It implies a quest of new possibilities, being in a state of unknowing, wonder, and a willingness to learn.  It implies an openness to change.
•The power of AI occurs when the appreciation and inquiry are combined.  By tapping into accounts of living systems (individuals, families, groups, organizations) that are functioning at their best, AI unleashes information and commitment that together create energy for positive change.

Appreciative Inquiry is “The study of what gives life to human systems when they are at their best.”

History of Appreciative Inquiry

•Unplanned shift in the practice of Organizational Development (OD) and transformation
•1980 – David Cooperrider works on his doctorate at Case Western Reserve University  (USA) and conducts an Organizational Design (OD) analysis at the Cleveland Clinic (hospital) through asking “What’s wrong with the human side of the organization?”.  In gathering his data from staff and members at the clinic, he was amazed by the level of positive cooperation, innovation and egalitarian governance.  He then focused his research on the excitement that he felt when he was working with this group and shifted his analysis to the factors contributing to the high effective functioning of the clinic. Cooperrider and his advisor presented a report to the Cleveland Clinic Board of Governors which created such a powerful and positive stir that the Board called for ways to use this method with the whole group practice.
•1980 to 86 – Cooperrider continued to develop Appreciative Inquiry and applied the methodology to interventions with other companies
•1986 – Cooperrider publishes his dissertation and attracts many followers
•To date – Appreciative Inquiry has increasingly gained interest and acceptance as a major approach to change in human systems (individuals, families, groups, organizations)

The Eight Principles of Appreciative Inquiry

1.The Constructionist Principle – Words Create Worlds
2.The Simultaneity Principle – Inquiry Creates Change
3.The Poetic Principle – We Can Choose What We Study
4.The Anticipatory Principle – Image Inspires Action
5.The Positive Principle – Positive Questions Lead to Positive Change
6.The Wholeness Principle – Wholeness Brings Out the Best
7.The Enactment Principle – Acting “As If” Is Self-Fulfilling
8.The Free Choice Principle – Free Choice Liberates Power

Appreciative Inquiry “5-D” Methodology


What is different about Appreciative Inquiry?

AI is strength-based.  All of us have experiences and skills that must be brought to the table in order for us to be all we can be.  AI identifies those strengths, enabling us to build on them, creating changes that would otherwise be unimaginable.  Knowing our strengths is a critical component of our ability to effectively reach our goals.

AI builds relationships through storytelling.  Our culture is a reflection, in part, of the stories we tell one another about “how things really are around here!”.  AI changes who talks to whom, how they talk, and the stories we tell.  Stories are more memorable and allow information and inspiration to transfer more readily than bullet points.
AI processes engage everyone. Transformation calls all levels of a living system to engage with one another in discovering strengths and dreams, and in designing changes for the future.
AI is purposefully positive.  It focuses us on what we already know works, what we want and need to have happen, and what we plan to do – individually and together – to create the future of our dreams.  In this way, it inspires hope and liberates energy for change.

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