A concept originally developed by Drs David Cooperrider, Suresh Srivasta and Frank Barrett at Case Western Reserve University, Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a strength-based approach to human beings and communities that focuses on the development of capacity, rather than the fixing of problems. It’s "generative" and by that, we mean that it has the impact of creating energy, fostering innovation, being expansive and increasing proactivity.
AI makes the assumption that whatever you want to develop, there will already be "seeds" of the right behaviour, the right attitude, the right experience happening somewhere, some of the time. So rather than eliminate the occasions of "getting it wrong" we work together to find, understand, learn from and expand the occasions of "getting it right", reinforcing the causes and enablers of whatever it is that you want to grow more of.
AI approaches work because as humans we are naturally evolved to avoid conflict or "negative feedback" and will be both consciously and unconsciously inclined towards positive reinforcement. By normalising something through reinforcing stories and constructive experiments and prototypes, we nudge our way into new patterns of behaviour and social process which IS culture.
AI is more than a method – it’s a philosophy, or a way of thinking, which leads to new ways of working together.
We don't simply deploy the mechanisms of AI (although many of the methods we blend and build into our complex culture change approaches), but rather we have over 20 years of deep experience of bringing the philosophy and attitude into everything we do.
At the heart of Appreciative Inquiry is the ability to "improvise" with others. Dr Frank Barrett - a jazz musician and academic - brought his personal learning about improvisation into every aspect of an "AI" mindset. Learn more about the core skills of improvisation with us!
Below, you will find some resources you might enjoy - videos, and small handbooks that are useful to getting started with AI.
At Lacerta Consulting we bring AI alongside rapid prototyping, coaching, action learning and other innovation and culture change techniques to create viral and improvisational change programmes that are attractive, enlivening yet always challenging and effective.