Appreciative Inquiry


Appreciative Inquiry – “a new yoga of inquiry”


–          Act of recognizing the best in the people or world around us

–          Affirming past and present strengths, successes, potentials

–          Perceive those things that give health, vitality, excellence to living systems


–          Act of exploration and discovery

–          Ask questions, be open to seeing new potentials and possibilities


Key assumption: “Human systems grow in the direction of what they persistently ask questions about…

Therefore: Topic choice matters. AI focuses on Affirmative Topic Choice, because the seeds of change… are implicit in the very first questions we ask. The questions we ask set the stage for what we ‘find,’ and what we ‘discover’ becomes the stories out of which the future is conceived and constructed. Our topics, like windsocks, continue to blow steadily onward in the direction of our conventional gaze.


Example: How would you take an appreciative inquiry approach to sexual harassment in the workplace?

Can you imagine the difference in impact of…

–          A list of “Don’ts” describing examples of sexual harassment

–          Sharing stories about what it means to create and sustain high quality cross-gender relationships in the workplace


“What we have found is that the more positive the question we ask in our work the more long lasting and successful the change effort.”



A Positive Revolution in Change: Appreciative Inquiry (Draft)

David L. Cooperrider and Diana Whitney


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