I was struck during a coaching session today by the fact that I’m not all that sure of the origins or exact principles that underlie appreciative inquiry, so I did a quick google search and found this wikipedia article.
It gives a really nice summary of the key principles behind the theory, and some hints at how it could be applied in organisations. In summary: appreciative inquiry “advocates collective inquiry into the best of what is, in order to imagine what could be, followed by collective design of a desired future state that is compelling and thus, does not require the use of incentives, coercion or persuasion for planned change to occur.” (Bushe)
In other words, it’s about focussing less on problems, and more on what’s working well, and then building on that.
PS For the academics among you, here’s a link to the original article that introduced the concept.