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What is Appreciative Inquiry?

In this article I explore a method that is a departure from the more traditional approaches to evaluations. It is called Appreciative Inquiry and is different as it focuses on the positives (rather than on what may not have worked well in an organisation). The method originated in the United States in the mid 1980s.

"Appreciative inquiry (AI) is the process of facilitating positive change in organizations. Its basic assumption is uncomplicated: every organization has something that works well. Appreciative inquiry is therefore an exciting generative approach to organizational development. At a higher level, it is also a way of being and seeing." (Serrat, 2008).

AI can be understood as a 4 step process.

According to Serrat (2008), Appreciative inquiry is useful and can help:

• Build a common vision where one is lacking.

• Challenge preconceived notions of what might be by locating the best of what already exists.

• Discover, understand, and amplify the positive forces that exist in organizations.

• Create openness and rapport between people and groups where a negative work climate has prevailed.

• Forge new approaches to human resource issues that will be accepted by staff and lead to positive change. • Provide an alternative to conventional team building processes.

• Demonstrate the power and value of teamwork by highlighting ways in which teams give life to organizations.

• Open up opportunities for continuous organizational improvement by illuminating the principles, core values, and exemplary practices that support successful teams.

• Develop communities in various ways.

Further Reading

David Cooperrider, Diana Whitney, and Jacqueline Stavros (2007). Appreciative Inquiry Handbook. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler. (2008). Appreciative Inquiry Commons Available: For further information

Serrat, Oliver (2008). Appreciative Inquiry.


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​​​Ann-Murray Brown

Monitoring, Evaluation and
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