In a nutshell, Appreciative Inquiry is a change agent; it works as a catalyst to bring change in an organization. Appreciative inquiry is a revolutionary element in the process of organizational change. It is a successor of the problem-solving approach which directs the focus on personal transformation and not on structure or processes.
The premise on which appreciative inquiry work is that "we move and change in the direction we inquire". Appreciative inquiry is rated as high as it can bring positive change, innovation, and sustainable design to the organization imparting minimal disturbance to the core business.
How it is different from the problem-solving approach
While the latter focuses more on going to the root cause, the former one is more concerned with appreciating what's going well. Blaming and division is a common feature of the problem-solving approach on the other hand collaboration and ownership is practiced in Appreciative inquiry. The formal top-down approach of decision making in followed in a problem-solving approach while the open-ended conversation is a salient feature of the appreciative inquiry approach.
Principles on which Appreciative Inquiry is based
The concept of appreciative inquiry was developed by David Cooperrider and Shuresh Srivastva in 1987. The following 5 principles explain the working of this approach.
Constructionist principle : The crux of this principle lies in the phrase "words create worlds".
Simultaneity principle : Based on the premise "inquiry creates change".
Poetic principle : "We can choose what we study" is the root concept followed in this principle.
Anticipatory principle : Based on the premise "Image inspires action".
Positive principle : "Positive questions lead to positive change" is the crux of the approach.
Characteristics that inquiries into the organization must possess
The prime focus of Appreciative inquiry is on discovery. Discovery works as a building block for the enforcement of a new set of norms.
Proactive - AI encourages people to take bold decisions regarding the future of the organization with the help of experience gained from enquiring the best in the organization. The main intention is to move towards being proactive rather than reactive.
Collaborative - Breaking the hierarchical norms of concentrating the decision-making power at the top, AI aims at the collaborative inquiry and ensuring address to everyone's opinion.
Applicable - Appreciative inquiry is directed towards doing what is required to bring out the best. There is nothing superficial or impractical about it.