Appreciative Inquiry is founded on the principles of positive psychology. Set in the context of a positive frame that broadens our thinking, appreciative inquiry is to “appreciate”, to increase in value. Individuals share ideas in story and conversation, building beyond the best we EACH have to offer, to include the best we ALL have to offer.
Appreciative Inquiry is a structured interview process designed to uncover the things that have significantly contributed to success for people, teams and your business/organization. Questions are asked in ways that invite deep listening. Stories shared bring the essence of people’s experiences and accomplishments to the whole group.
When we are in conflict, what have we or others done to effectively resolve our differences? If we are seeking the best for our team or our organization into the future, what do we most want to be recognized for? If we are combining teams or amalgamating whole organizations, what are the strengths we have each already built; what can we each bring to a new and changed environment to increase our effectiveness or enhance the services we have to offer?
Too often, when we seek to develop, change and grow, our options narrow to ‘either’ / ‘or’. We tend to miss opportunity because our thinking becomes polarized. Appreciative Inquiry invites us to think in terms of ‘both’ / ‘and’, to widen the possibilities. We look first to our history, to the times of greatest achievement and we use these strengths as leverage for continued success. We ask what needs to change in ourselves, our interactions or the current environment to help us thrive into the future.
Seeking out, acknowledging and sharing the bests we have to offer gives us enough of a glimpse of hope and possibility to break through cynicism, to bridge differences and to level hierarchies between us. When we appreciate and inquire with a friend, an acquaintance or colleague, in our cohorts or teams, across our organizations or with others in our community, we not only discover new paths to the future, we tap into the shared energy and commitment that allows us to create that future.