Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is the name given to a strengths-based methodology or positive approach to change and improvement. David Cooperrider PhD is the co-originator and his website contains many details as well.
The approach is consciously a positive search for what is working well, the successes and high points of experience and service together with an analysis of or understanding of the “root causes of success”. Literally, it is asking questions about what we value or appreciate in order to “improve” and to build on what we have discovered.
Its all about building strategic capacity and performance improvement. As it is a collaborative process it strengthens and develops teamwork and assists with getting people reconnected to their organisation.
When people experience positive emotions, as they do whilst exploring strengths and the “good stuff” inherent in the appreciative (AI) approach, their “thought/action repertoire” expands. Their choices increase. That is to say people and especially teams working together become generative.
Organisations decide to employ the AI approach because of its catalytic-like property in generating change and innovation.
Also see the AI Commons.