Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a process or philosophy for involving individuals that form part of a group structure in a dialogue that focuses on renewal and change.
The following excerpt from A Positive Revolution in Change: Appreciative Inquiry by the originator of the process, David L. Cooperider, and one of the most experienced exponents, Diana Whitney, encapsulates what Appreciative Inquiry is about.
Appreciative Inquiry is about the co-evolutionary search for the best in people, their organisations, 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.
Appreciative Inquiry 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 Appreciative Inquiry the arduous task of intervention gives way to the speed of imagination and innovation; instead of negation, criticism, and spiralling diagnosis, there is discovery, dream, and design.
Appreciative Inquiry 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.
Chapter 25: Internal Cohesion in Society