1. Section Editor(s): Palatnik, AnneMarie MSN, APN, ACNS-BC

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Look around you. Are you happy at work? Is there room for improvement? When you look for ways to make your department a better place to work, do you start with the problems you see and then try to figure out ways to solve them? If you look for problems, you'll invariably find them wherever you look, but if you search for what's inherently good in your workplace, you can learn from it, multiply it, and magnify its successes. Simply put, this is what's known as appreciative inquiry.1,2

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What exactly is appreciative inquiry? Let's begin with a basic definition of the terms: To appreciate is to value the act of recognizing the best in people or the world around us; to inquire is the act of exploration and discovery, to be open to seeing new possibilities.1


So, let's get to work! There are a few basic assumptions in appreciative inquiry:1,2


* In every organization or group something works.


* What we focus on becomes our reality.


* Reality is created in the moment and there are multiple realities.


* The act of asking questions of a group of people influences that group.


* People are comfortable moving into the future when they carry forward some of the past.


* If we carry parts of the past into the future, then we should carry the best parts.


* Valuing differences in others is important.


* The language we use creates our reality.



Appreciative inquiry is the act of truly appreciating and valuing the best of what is all around us, then imagining what might be, determining what should be, and finally creating what will be. If we focus on the positives, including what works in our workplace as opposed to what is broken, then the possibilities are endless. Ask yourself: What do you see when you have a glass before you that's filled to the half-way point? Is it half empty? Or is it half full?


Appreciative inquiry focuses on the positive, not the negative, and is a way of approaching a problem or situation from the other side of the coin.1 After all, "every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day."-Unknown.


AnneMarie Palatnik, MSN, APN, ACNS-BC

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Director of Clinical Learning Center for Learning Virtua Health Mount Laurel, N.J.




1. Cooperrider DL, Whitney D. Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change. San Francisco, ca: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.; 2005. [Context Link]


2. Hammond SA. An introduction to appreciative inquiry. [Context Link]