From the Publisher
Appreciative Inquiry has been described in a myriad of ways: a radically affirmative approach to change that completely lets go of problem-based management, the most important advance in action research in the past decade, an organization developments philosophers stone. Summing up Appreciative Inquiry is difficult--a philosophy of knowing, a methodology for managing change, an approach to leadership and human development. Here is a practice-oriented definition:
Appreciative Inquiry is the cooperative search for the best in people, their organizations, and the world around them. It involves systematic discovery of what gives a system life when it is most effective and capable in economic, ecological, and human terms. Appreciative Inquiry involves the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a systems capacity to heighten positive potential. It mobilizes inquiry through crafting an unconditional positive question often involving hundreds or sometimes thousands of people. In Appreciative Inquiry, intervention gives way to imagination and innovation; instead of negation, criticism and spiraling diagnosis there is discovery, dream, and design. Appreciative Inquiry assumes that every living system has untapped, rich, and inspiring accounts of the positive. Link this positive change core directly to any change agenda and changes never thought possible are suddenly and democratically mobilized.
The positive change core is one of the greatest and largely unrecognized resources in change management today. The most important insight learned with Appreciative Inquiry to date is that human systems grow towards what they persistently ask questions about. The single most important action a group can take to liberate the human spirit and consciously construct a better future is make the positive change core the common and explicit property of all.