Appreciative inquiry is an approach to organization development that focuses on what is going well in organizations. Grounded in David Cooperrider’s work, appreciative inquiry is one of the best loved approaches to dealing with tense situations. It offers an inclusive way to get people on the same page by focusing attention on our proudest moments on the job and what is going well in the organization. The most common model is the 4-D’s: Discover, Dream, Design, Destiny, which is a staple for retreats and gatherings that are designed to forge a new strategy shared by parties who may or may not agree on fundamental issues.
Critics point out that when it is not done correctly, lessons derived from past problems may not be given voice. This is common if only certain people and perspectives are invited to participate. For appreciative inquiry to operate as it is intended to, it is important to be open and inclusive. When this rule is observed, it can truly serve to bring out the best in people and help them to forge a more productive way ahead by changing the conversation from one grounded in deficit thinking to one that is more hopeful and visionary.