"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else, is the greatest accomplishment." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do that, for what the world needs is more people who have come alive." Howard Thurman

"If you want to build a ship, then don't drum up men to gather wood, give orders and divide the work. Rather, teach them to yearn for the far and endless sea." Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"The art of life lies in a constant readjustment of our surroundings." Kakuzo Okakura

"Life is Change, Growth is Optional." Unknown

"Mistakes are the Portals of Discovery" James Joyce

Appreciative Inquiry

Strength-Based Organizational Change


"The task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths, in ways that make our weaknesses irrelevant." Peter Drucker

Appreciative Inquiry has become a powerful choice for organizations that are choosing to shift from a focus on deficits to a focus on strengths. Questions are fateful. By changing the focus of the questions, you can directly impact the direction you move towards. All over the world and with every imaginable organization, Appreciative Inquiry has been instrumental in positively transforming organizational culture, for tremendous impact on the bottom line.

"This is a process and not an event...but that vision I saw that day is beginning to sprout. It isn't often that you hear about a program or process that you can see will not only be successful but that will also become the core of the company culture." Alan Robinson, Roadway President (2002)

What is Appreciative Inquiry?

Library___13315.JPGAppreciative Inquiry (AI) is a powerful change process using positive questions, past successes, vision and values and an overall appreciative approach discovered by David Cooperrider in performing organizational diagnosis while at Case Western University in 1980. Instead of the common OD Consulting approach of identifying what’s wrong, Appreciative Inquiry looks into and investigates what gives life and what’s right within an organization.

Typically unfolding in 5 major phases – Define, Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver -- AI encourages people to acknowledge strengths, values and personal and professional high points, imagine a compelling future and build structures and relationships that help them craft inspired, innovative plans to fulfill their dreams. It unleashes excellence and joy.

Ai%20Discovery.jpgThis seemingly minor shift to place our attention on what's working vs. what isn't, has transformed the way organizations learn, grow and generate change, moving away from the typical deficit analysis model that's the norm for the consulting industry. Appreciative inquiry has received world-wide acclaim for the quick and sustainable results it produces in organizations and communities. 

 The Positive Core

"It's the story of an organization's strengths, resources and assets - tangible and intangible - that are central and essential to the social and strategic vitality of the organization. An often an untold story..."

Diana Whitney

2nd International Conference on AI (2004)


Appreciative Inquiry Success Stories
  • Roadway Express (now Yellow Roadway), US, used AI to engage its unionized workforce in strategic planning, specifically to optimize its profit margin. Several months later, revenues were up 25.7% over the same period the previous year. Employee-driven improvements translated into $17 million in additional revenue and $7 million annual profit for the year. Of the top 5 terminals leading the company in gains, all were sites that had used Appreciative Inquiry; 3 of the 5 had conducted large-scale AI Summits.
  • Nutrimental, Brazil, annually uses AI for strategic planning. Over a 6 year period the company experienced a 600% increase in profits as well as a 75% reduction in absenteeism rates.
  • Hunter Douglas Window Fashions Division, US, used AI to create a shared vision and re-instill the 'positive core' factors that had contributed to the division's original success. They saved $3.5 million in their first year.
  • Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, US, used AI to improve its business processes. In 2000, Forbes Magazine named Ben Stiller, CEO, Entrepreneur of the Year.
  • Santa Ana Star Casino, US, used AI to make a $10 million turnaround in operating profits in fiscal year 2003.
  • Syntegra, The Netherlands, used AI to develop market approaches and build teams. Employee turnover went from 35% to less than 25%. In a local market of 10% growth, they grew 40%.
  • Tendercare, Inc. an assisted living center, US, used AI to increase census (residents) by 10% within 6 weeks.


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  • For more information about Appreciative Inquiry and the activities around the world from AI Commons at Case Western University...appreciativeinquiry.case.edu