Appreciate inquiry is process of thinking and working together to bring about positive change that focuses on what works well and how to build on it. It focuses on possibilities, not problems. (The process was developed by David Cooperrider, professor of organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management and cofounder of Appreciative Inquiry Consulting.)
Appreciate Inquiry (AI) requires an important shift from our usual, problem-centered approach and is based on positive questions. In AI, a clear, concise topic is chosen, positive questions are developed, and the facilitators ask team members those questions. Stories start to develop; patterns begin to emerge. Individuals recall and tap into positive achievements and stories that strengthen and inspire. The process, which is more fully described below, doesn’t ignore problems—it just approaches them from the other side. AI builds on several assumptions, including:
- In every congregation, organization, or group, something works.
- What we focus on becomes our reality.
- The act of asking questions of an organization or group influences the group in some way.
- What we want already exists in ourselves, our congregations, our families, our organizations, and our communities.
(adapted from “Appreciative Inquiry: It’s Not Easy, But It Is Simple” by Kathy Clark, September 2004)