[from book part 4 – SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONISM]

Why does Appreciative Inquiry have underlying starting points? After all, AI has been derived from practical research. So, if the ‘method’ would rest on certain foundations, these might have been added afterwards… Perhaps academics may find this problematic. But I guess this is not a problem for social constructionists who can easily switch between cause and effect. Additionally, asking this ‘how come’ question is of course ‘good de-constructional practice’.

Nevertheless, it helps to understand Appreciative Inquiry if we regard it as built upon five basic principles. I want to show my appreciation to Kim de Groot, Jeannette Schonewille and Annet van de Wetering, who succeeded to summarize these principles in a very informative article, published in our first AI100 Magazine in June 2010. I’m very happy to make use of their text,which is also flavored with some beautiful quotes.


  1. The social constructionist principle and AI

“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.” (Anais Nin)

This first AI principle tells us that there’s no objective reality or truth; it’s what we make of it. Or, like the pragmatic philosopher Richard Rorty said: “True is what works.” In other words: we construct reality.


  1. The poetical principle and AI

“If you focus on problems, you find more problems. If you focus on successes, you find more successes.” (Mac Odell)

Every story – think of a poem – is subject to endless interpretations. So, except for the poem itself being a creation, our interpretation of it is also a creation. In fact it’s our creation. The more attention we give to something, the more it becomes part of our experience.


  1. The simultaneity principle and AI

“All questions are leading questions.” (Michael Hoyt)

This principle supposes that asking a question is the first step toward change. The change takes place from the moment we start to inquire. It is not about finding the right question, but finding the question that leads us in the right direction.


  1. The anticipating principle and AI

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” (Antoine de Saint Exupery)

Our actions and decisions are lead by our internal images about the future. We can change our future by creating new, inspiring images.


  1. The positivity principle and AI

“When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.” (William Arthur Ward)

Research by professor Barbara Fredrickson showed that positive emotions are not just pleasant experiences; they play an important role in the wellbeing of people.


What are your basic principles in living your live?

What are the strongest internal images about your future?



You’ve just read one of the 100 chapters of my book Appreciative Inquiries of the 3.0 Kind. Find out more (and a special pre-ordering offer) on www.appreciativeinquiries.eu