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Unknown tool and its concept is very widespread. It’s basically about “ seeing things on the right side “. Rather than solving problems, let’s find out what’s going well.


The Appreciative inquiry is a positive step of accompanying change. For a long time, medicine has been interested in what goes wrong in the individual. The doctor’s job in this perspective is to identify the ailments and to treat them. In the years 1950 to 1970, American psychologists – Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Paul Watzlawick, Milton Erickson … – reversed the questioning. Instead of asking why people were not doing well, they sought to understand why they were doing well.

Since then, research has advanced, and results demonstrating the influence of beliefs on health are accumulating. Thus, in psychology, it is the “Pygmalion effect” highlighted by Robert Rosenthal: it showed that students of equivalent level obtained significantly different academic results according to their teachers believed them a priori good or mediocre1.

Management researchers were interested in these results, and asked if this statement applies to companies. The work shows similar results: a company with problems in its environment (loss of customers, market shares …) will be all the more likely to get by that it can rely on the positive energy of its employees. The more we focus on the weak points, the more anxiety we create, and the more we limit the ability of the company to mobilize its “healing resources”, creativity, creativity and creativity. adaptation, change. An individual who is afraid can change but only under duress.

The positive vision of change is not based on a naive conception of men and organizations. Changing positively is simply more effective than changing by solving problems. It is on these observations that the appreciative process is based, relying on the vital energy of the company to solve problems and grow..

The goal remains the same, it’s the way that differs. 

Rather than trying to reduce fears, focus on the positive aspects of change.

The process associated with this method is based on 5 phases.

The applications of the appreciative inquiry are very extensive: assessment, team project, management and leadership development, vision, communication, change management, convention…

Step 1 – The Definition

This is the decisive step of the approach because it is the basis for the future. This is an opportunity for managers and managers to think about the direction in which they wish to take their company, their teams … : cooperation, team spirit…

Step 2 – The Discovery

The discovery phase is in the form of interviews in pairs, during which each questions the other to discover it: success, failure, passion, position vis-à-vis the change … Through these interviews, the the challenge is to discover one’s strengths, assets … and to share in one’s place in business and change.

Being two makes it easier to “ release ” and is therefore conducive to information and self-discovery..

During interviews, we must find questions about desires, wishes, hopes and positive experiences :

  • « What are the three wishes you would make for the development of your business? 
  • “You leave on Friday. You come back on Monday and, miraculously, your business has changed over the weekend in the direction you want. What is she like ? How does it work? What are you doing ? What has changed concretely ?

Step 3 – Becoming

From the answers of these interviews, the stake is to be able to imagine the best future for the company and to see how one projects in this one. Answers collected in pairs are shared in large groups, prioritized and prioritized.

Step 4 – The Decision

This and the next phase do not fundamentally differ from traditional approaches to leadership. Identify resources, develop shared vision, structure change :

  • Who will do what ? 
  • What projects ? 
  • What driving ? 
  • What management methods ?

Step 5 – Deployment

The results of “dream” could provide the vision and actions to be done day after day. The deployment phase, also translated by “destiny”, makes it possible to see this “dream” come true and expand the process to other projects, topics…

In the daily change, the appreciative approach is translated into a positive state of mind; :

Rather than face the change ” face ” and therefore see the problems related to this change, let’s look at what is positive in this change.

Rather than ask: What’s wrong with this new project… ?

You have to ask: What’s right for you in this new project… ?


1 – R. Rosenthal, L. F. Jacobson (1968) – Teacher expectation for the disadvantaged

2. A. Damasio, L’Erreur de Descartes – La raison des émotions.

3. J. Kötter, A Sense of Urgency.

A. Tonnelé (2011) – 65 outils pour accompagner le changement individuel et collectif

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