Appreciative Inquiry


Contributed by staff writer Amanda Fraraccio

In August we addressed approaches team members can take to present their opinions and ideas in the workplace. This month we look at company culture through the lens of Appreciative Inquiry. Developed at Case Western in the 1980s this approach seeks to change focus on the types of questions being asked and to build on what is already working well in an organization. The approach is not about denying or ignoring problems, but rather building a collaborative culture to address them (Frankel & Beyt, 2017).

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) suggests bringing awareness to the types of questions we ask ourselves and others and focusing those questions on strengths and positive outcomes. A person may typically begin their day by asking questions such as “What is next on my to do list?”, or “What can I get done today?”.

When the focus is shifted away from questions about routine its is possible to find new questions and answers about growth. These types of questions can include:

·         "What is one important thing that I am going to achieve today?"

·         "How can I best contribute to my team today?"

·         "How can I maximize my energy level throughout the day?"

·         "What will I do today that will push my boundaries and make me grow?"

By asking questions like "What will make today special?", the focus is aimed at priorities (Steenbarger, 2015).

When the focus is on what is wrong in an organization, a negative atmosphere can result. Appreciative Inquiry questions such as these can assist team members in building a feeling of optimism and encourage collaboration:

·         “What is a recent successful team project?”

·         “What made the team so successful?”

·         “Have you noticed a colleague go beyond the call of duty recently? What                happened?” (Frankel & Beyt, 2017)

It is important for team members and team leaders to work together to create a positive and successful work experience.  Team members can benefit personally and professionally from utilizing an appreciative approach to their interactions with clients as well as team leaders. Leaders can ensure further success and perpetuate this environment by concentrating on strengths and asking questions about opportunities “No amount of micromanagement brings us to successful macro management” (Steenbarger, 2015).

For more information about Appreciative Inquiry strategies visit:





Frankel, R., & Beyt, G. (2017). Retrieved from

Steenbarger, B. (2015, June 21). Retrieved from