Appreciative Inquiry (sometimes shortened to "AI") is primarily an organizational development method which focuses on increasing what an organization does well rather than on eliminating what it does badly. Through an inquiry which appreciates the positive and engages all levels of an organization (and often its customers and suppliers) it seeks to renew, develop and build on this. Its proponents view it as being applicable to organizations facing rapid change or growth. Stowell and West (1991) have been credited with the development of the "Appreciative Inquiry Method" (AIM). The Appreciative Inquiry method was proposed in the 1990s and arose out of the lessons learned from research undertaken into the methods of knowledge elicitation (West,1991). AIM was developed over the years and examples can be seen in Stowell and West (1990) as part of the process of knowledge elicitation and in gathering of expertise in (West, 1992; West and Thomas, 2005; West and Braganca, 2011); as a means of gaining understanding of complex decision making in Smith's (2001) work in mental health; and in understanding management problems Stowell (2001-2009)in a number of systems workshops within the Systems Practice for Managing Complexity network (http://northumbria.ac.uk/spmc)
 The Basis of the AI approach
The Appreciative Inquiry model is based on the assumption that the questions we ask will tend to focus our attention in a particular direction. Some other methods of assessing and evaluating a situation and then proposing solutions are based on a deficiency model. Some other methods ask questions such as “What are the problems?”, “What’s wrong?” or “What needs to be fixed?”.
Instead of asking “What’s the problem?”, some other methods couch the question in terms of challenges, which AI argues maintains a basis of deficiency, the thinking behind the questions assuming that there is something wrong, or that something needs to be fixed or solved.
Appreciative Inquiry takes an alternative approach. As a self defined "asset-based approach" it starts with the belief that every organisation, and every person in that organisation, has positive aspects that can be built upon. It asks questions like “What’s working well?”, “What’s good about what you are currently doing?”
Some researchers believe that excessive focus on dysfunctions can actually cause them to become worse or fail to become better. By contrast, AI argues, when all members of an organization are motivated to understand and value the most favourable features of its culture, it can make rapid improvements.
Strength-based methods are used in the creation of organizational development strategy and implementation of organizational effectiveness tactics. The appreciative mode of inquiry often relies on interviews to qualitatively understand the organization's potential strengths by looking at an organization's experience and its potential; the objective is to elucidate the assets and personal motivations that are its strengths.
 What distinguishes AI
The following table illustrates how AI supporters describe some of the distinctions between Appreciative Inquiry and approaches to organizational development not based on what they call positive potential:
|Problem Solving||Appreciative inquiry|
|Felt need, identification of problem(s)||Appreciating, valuing the Best of What Is|
|Analysis of Causes||Envisioning what might be|
|Analysis of possible solutions||Engaging in dialogue about what should be|
|Action Planning (treatment)||Innovating, what will be|
Appreciative Inquiry attempts to use ways of asking questions and envisioning the future in-order to foster positive relationships and build on the present potential of a given person, organisation or situation. Appreciative Inquiry utilises a cycle of 4 processes, which focuses on what it calls:
- DISCOVER: The identification of organizational processes that work well.
- DREAM: The envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.
- DESIGN: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well.
- DESTINY (or DELIVER): The implementation (execution) of the proposed design.
The aim is to build - or rebuild - organisations around what works, rather than trying to fix what doesn't. AI practitioners try to convey this approach as the opposite of problem-solving.
 Implementing AI
There are a variety of approaches to implementing Appreciative Inquiry, including mass-mobilised interviews and a large, diverse gathering called an Appreciative Inquiry Summit. Both approaches involve bringing large, diverse groups of people together to study and build upon the best in an organization or community.
 Associations with other approaches
The philosophy of AI is also found in other positively oriented approaches to individual change as well as organizational change. The principles behind A.I. are based in the science of Positive Psychology. Building on strengths, rather than just focusing on faults and weakness is used in mentoring and coaching programs. It is the basic idea behind teaching "micro-affirmations" as well as teaching about micro-inequities. (See Microinequity)
 AI's Uses
AI is used in organizational development and as a management consultancy tool to identify and move towards, needed change. It has been applied in businesses, health care bodies, social non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and government operations. Although originating in the United States, it is also used in the United Kingdom, for example in the National Support Teams.
In Vancouver, AI is being used by the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education. The Center, which was founded by the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan, is using AI to facilitate compassionate communities.
 See also
- Geoffrey Vickers introduced concept of 'Appreciative Systems'(1968)
- Kenneth J. Gergen instrumental in social constructionism
- David Cooperrider is known for the Appreciative Inquiry Handbook and other works on the topic of AI.
- Theodore Kinni, "The Art of Appreciative Inquiry", The Harvard Business School Working Knowledge for Business Leaders Newsletter, September 22, 2003.
- Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/
- Eaton, Sarah Elaine, "Appreciative Inquiry: An Overview" http://www.scribd.com/doc/56010589/Appreciative-Inquiry-An-Overview"
- January 17, 2005, Time Magazine, The Science of Happiness (Cover Story & Special Issue)http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/images/TimeMagazine/Time-Happiness.pdf
- Background http://www.new-paradigm.co.uk/Appreciative.htm
- Case Western Reserve University, Appreciative Inquiry Commons; http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/intro/whatisai.cfm
- "Appreciative Inquiry" http://www.new-paradigm.co.uk/Appreciative.htm.
- Rowe Micro-Affirmations and Micro-inequities in the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association, Volume 1, Number 1, March 2008.
- Appreciative Inquiry Commons at Case Western Reserve University
- Appreciative Inquiry at Harvard Business School
- Inquérito Apreciativo (Portuguese)
- Appreciative Inquiry Conference 2007 The Power of Positive Change
- Begeistring Organisations-The European Network around Appreciative Inquiry and Strength Based Change
-  Appreciative Inquiry: An Overview
- Cooperrider, D. L. (2007). Business as an agent of world benefit: Awe is what moves us forward. Retrieved February 21, 2008, from