Discover the Powerful World of Appreciative Inquiry

Posted by A. Smith on Oct-7-2010

This summer, I had the opportunity to attend a conference on Appreciative Inquiry (AI), a methodology I first discovered about seven years ago and one that changed my approach to work and life. While there are certainly formal definitions out there, and at the risk of academics cringing, here is what AI means to me:

Appreciative inquiry is a positive approach to business. It is rooted in storytelling and based on the premise that if we raise exceptionally positive questions and engage in meaningful conversation, change occurs. In essence, we create a new reality, moving in the direction of our hopes and dreams.

AI dismisses business as usual, in which organizations typically focus on what’s wrong and how to fix it. Rather, this strength-based approach asks, “What’s right and how do we build on it?” It is about capturing the best of an organization, the best of people.

To me, this makes perfect sense. It’s simple the way I tick. Moreover, Appreciative Inquiry is proven to:

  • Accelerate sustainable change
  • Drive innovation
  • Generate high performance
  • Cultivate a positive culture
  • Increase loyalty
  • Improve efficiency
  • Enhance communications
  • Lead to greater profitability

These are powerful results. And, the process of achieving them can be life changing. I’ve witnessed it firsthand, and I encourage more people in business to explore this unsung methodology. Start by answering these questions that were at the heart of the conference I participated in:

  1. Do you see the world with an appreciative eye? Do you have the ability to notice and articulate what is good, healthy, constructive, and life giving?
  2. Do you have the ability to seek out and study a new frame or view of the world? Are you open to new concepts, ideas, viewpoints, and possibilities?
  3. Do you see the positive possibilities that reside in yourself, others, a group/team, organization, or community?
  4. Do you live in the present moment? Are you able to improvise and are you open to the emergence of new possibilities?
  5. Do you have the ability to invite, engage, and involve people in a positive way in conversations about important topics? Do you create environments where people are willing to share their thinking, listen to other points of view, and identify collective views?

While these are personal questions, they begin to shed light on the appreciative capacities that open us up to the world of Appreciative Inquiry. It’s a world filled with hope, stories, innovation, leadership, transformation, momentum, and desired outcomes. Join me.

“We find what we seek.” – Jen Silbert, presenter, Innovation Partners
(Follow her on Twitter @JHSilbert)

“AI assumes that every living system has untapped stories of excellence and that these stories release positive energies.” –Bernard Mohr, Innovation Partners
(Follow him on Twitter at @BernardMohr)

  1. Andy Smith Said,

    Good to know that there’s another A Smith into Appreciative Inquiry!

    Best wishes,
    Andy Smith

  2. admin Said,

    Thanks, Andy! Seems like we share a lot in common! I enjoy following you on Twitter! It’s great to have a community of people spreading the word about Appreciative Inquiry!

  3. Jennifer Neutel Said,

    Thanks for sharing these insights and great questions! We’re running a series on AI coming out of the recent Storython, it’s amazing to hear the personal and organizational stories of change.


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