jon tyson hhq1Lxtuwd8 unsplash 111967177813

Appreciative Inquiry

Strenghtening what works

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a change vision and strategy. The underlying concept is that a system develops in a positive way when people together start to investigate what works and what they want for the future. Based on those conversations, the people involved explore ways to use their strengths and move towards a future that seems worthwhile to them.


Systematic inquiry into strengths makes connections grow: it inspires new visions of the future and it generates the energy for making this future come true. AI helps to mobilise and connect the diversity of knowledge, proficiencies and interests. That makes for an ideal and fertile ground for new social and organisational solutions that are supported by (large) groups of stakeholders.

Both words in "Appreciative Inquiry" are important:

  • appreciative means that there is a continuous focus on those things that you want to see more of.
  • inquiry says something about the approach: it is an invitation to people to become investigators of their own practices and to collaborate in sustainable change. 


Within Kessels & Smit, many consultants work on projects that are based on Appreciative Inquiry. We also write about AI, do research on it and educate people about this change philosophy. 

We collaborate in many activities with the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, the birthplace of AI. Together with pioneers like David Cooperrider and Ronald Fry, we facilitate the Appreciative Inquiry Learning Networks in Flanders. Kessels & Smit was also the co-initiator of the 5th AI World Conference in Ghent in 2012.

Related cases

Books about this theme

'The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination.'

This theme is often relevant to client questions on
innovation & change

Do you want to read more about our approach?