What Is Appreciative Inquiry? - Definition & Process

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  • 0:02 What Is Appreciative Inquiry?
  • 1:12 Principles of…
  • 2:22 Appreciative Inquiry Process
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tonya Brewer

Tonya has a Master of Science degree in Accounting.

In this lesson, we'll be learning about appreciative inquiry, an important part of the decision-making process in the business world,. We'll also learn about it as a method used to introduce and facilitate company change.

What Is Appreciative Inquiry?

Appreciative inquiry (or AI) is a model that is used for decision-making and the creation of tactical change by emphasizing what's right instead of what's wrong with a company. It was developed in the 1980s by David Cooperrider who was a professor at the Weatherhead School of Management. David developed this model in response to the negative response to change that we normally see in the business world. When companies announce that they're introducing a change to a process, most employees' first response is to groan and complain before they even know what it is. Appreciative inquiry is a positive way to accept these changes based on a simple thought, as summarized by Cooperrider:

'Every organization has something that works right - things that give life when it most alive, effective, successful, and connected in a healthy way to its stakeholders and communities. AI begins by identifying what is positive and connecting to it in ways that heighten energy and vision for change.'

Appreciative inquiry is the search for the best in a company and its people. You identify what's working well, why it works, and continue to do more of it.

Principles of Appreciative Inquiry

Before co-writing a book on AI and the process behind it, Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change, Cooperrider had five principles that he followed. Let's take a look at these principles and what they mean:

  1. Constructionist: This principle says that we do what we feel is right and that thoughts and actions begin with conversations and relationships. This inquiry is used to inspire new ideas that create new possibilities for action.
  2. Simultaneity: This principle proposes that the things that people think about can be found in the first questions they ask when change occurs. It says that questions are never neutral, and the questions asked can have a significant effect on the future.
  3. Poetic: According to this principle, we can choose to study a company the way we'd study a book and that words can inspire the best in people.
  4. Anticipatory: This principle addresses the relationship between positive images of the future and the positive actions of today.
  5. Positive: This last principle states that major change requires making a positive impact and social bonding.

Appreciative Inquiry Process

The appreciate inquiry has four steps in its process. Let's explore these steps, which we can call the four Ds, and their definitions further.

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