Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an organisational development approach that actively seeks:

  • What is good in an organisation a team or an individual?
  • What is working well in the organisation?
  • When is the organisation performing at its best?

The basic idea is to build organisations and processes around what works, rather than trying to fix what doesn’t. It is the opposite of traditional problem solving. Instead of focusing on fixing what’s wrong, AI focuses on how to create more of what is already working. By doing so, we create confidence in people about their ability to deliver positive results as their chosen path for future improvement is based on their own past successes.

Appreciative Inquiry is a unique way of asking questions which enables a team or a whole organisation to envisage the future. It releases the immense creativity and resourcefulness that is normally hidden in each and every one of us. In so doing, it enhances people’s capacity for collaboration and change.

A typical Appreciative Inquiry experience follows a 4-stage process focusing on:

DISCOVER: The identification of what work well.
DREAM: The envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.
DESIGN: Planning and prioritising processes that would work well.
DELIVER: The implementation of the proposed design.

There are a variety of approaches to implementing Appreciative Inquiry. They range from working with a small group on a project or a specific problem/need and all the way to a large, organisation-wide gathering called an Appreciative Inquiry Summit.