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What is Appreciative Inquiry or the OG AI?

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Appreciative Inquiry is a strengths-based methodology for change that looks at:

“What gives life to something” and “What is working?”

Synonyms for Appreciate: VALUING, PRIZING, ESTEEMING, and HONORING.

An Inquiry is seeking to understand through asking questions.


Appreciative Inquiry is about the co-evolutionary search for the best in people and their organizations. 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.

AI is based on the simple assumption that every organization has something that works well and these strengths can be the starting point for creative positive change.

AI involves the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential.

In AI the arduous task of intervention gives way to the speed of imagination and innovation.

Instead of negation, criticism, and spiraling diagnosis, there is discovery, dream, and design.

AI links change to past and present capacities: achievements, assets, unexplored potentials, innovations, strengths, elevated thoughts, opportunities, benchmarks, high-point moments, lived values, traditions, strategic competencies, stories, expressions of wisdom, insights into the deeper corporate spirit or soul--and visions of valued and possible futures.

When you link the energy of the “positive change core” directly to any change agenda changes never thought possible are suddenly and democratically mobilized.

Assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry

In every society, organization, group or individual some things work.

What we focus on becomes our reality.

The act of asking questions of an organization, group, or individual influences the organism in some way.

People have more confidence in the journey to the future (the unknown) when they carry forward parts of the past (the known).

If we carry parts of the past into the future, they should be what is best about the past.

It is important to value differences.

The language we use creates our reality.

(Material adapted from Sue A. Hammond The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry)

Want to learn more about how AI can improve your business or yourself? Drop us a line or give us a call 202.669.5777!

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