Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a co-creative search for the best in people, their organizations, groups and communities.
Working within the AI paradigm, a facilitator will reframe the problem into an enlivening topic (what the positive desire is within the stated problem), and then discover when the best moments of this have already been present in peoples’ experience within the group. From this, underlying values are distilled and lead to future visions and wishes that will enliven the group.
AI re-discovers the positive core of the organisation or group and amplifies and strengthens that. Everyone within the system has an equal voice and so has ownership of the process. This is a future-oriented solution focussed approach which energises all involved, rather than a deficit-based approach which tends to invite apathy and defensiveness.
Appreciative Coaching (AC) is a newly emerging process that uses the principles of AI in one-to-one coaching relationships. The process works in a non-linear and creative way which often unlocks new possibilities in unexpected ways.
Core principles of Appreciative Inquiry
Summarised by D Whitney & Trosten-Bloom, 2003
- Words Create Worlds (Constructionist Principle): The words we use to think and talk about a subject, determine our experience of it.
- Inquiry Creates Change (Simultaneity Principle): The moment we ask a question, we begin to create change.
- We Can Choose What We Investigate (Poetic Principle): What we choose to pay attention to, determines our findings.
- Image Inspires Action (Anticipatory Principle): Human systems move in the direction of their images of the future. The more positive and hopeful the image of the future, the more positive the present-day action.
- Positive Questions Lead to Positive Change (Positive Principle): Momentum for change requires large amounts of positive feelings and social togetherness. This momentum is best generated through positive questions that strengthen our shared positive values.
- Wholeness Brings out the Best (Wholeness Principle): Wholeness brings out the best in people and organizations. Bringing all stakeholders together in large group forums stimulates creativity and builds collective capacity.
- Acting “As If” is Self-Fulfilling (Enactment Principle): To really make a change, we must “be the change we want to see”. Positive change occurs when the process used to create the change is a living model of the ideal future.
- Free Choice Liberates Power (Free Choice Principle):People perform better and are more committed when they have the freedom to choose how and what they contribute. Free choice stimulates organizational excellence and positive change.