Appreciative Inquiry – What does your business do really well?

11 April

There’s a worrying trend in online business advice right now – whatever you’re doing is not enough.

What does your business do well today?

As a trainer and mentor, I see the effect that this has on business owners. There is an exhausting stream of ‘how to’ advice. While there’s invaluable content out there, some trainers focus on fear mongering; ‘if you’re not on social media, your business doesn’t exist’, ‘if you’re not posting regular content, you are losing out to competitors. Are you a business owner? If so, I’d love to hear how this approach makes you feel. What opposite approach might work better for you?

What if you focussed on what your business does really well?

I recently did some consultation work with Think Visual. I discovered that they are huge fans of a technique called ‘Appreciative Inquiry‘ which was created in the 80s. Simply put, this technique focuses us on the positive and uses this to ‘correct’ the negative. It’s the opposite of problem-solving. Often, if we turn an idea on it’s head, we get remarkable new solutions!

“The traditional approach to change is to look for the problem, do a diagnosis, and find a solution. The primary focus is on what is wrong or broken; since we look for problems, we find them. By paying attention to problems, we emphasize and amplify them. …Appreciative Inquiry suggests that we look for what works in an organisation. The tangible result of the inquiry process is a series of statements that describe where the organization wants to be, based on the high moments of where they have been. Because the statements are grounded in real experience and history, people know how to repeat their success.”

Hammond, Sue. The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry, 1998.

So, What is Appreciative Inquiry and how might it help you and your business?

Appreciative inquiry asks you to explore what is already working well.

If we continue to search for problems, we will continue to find problems. If we look for what is best and learn from it, we can magnify our success.

The technique is based on asking powerful questions. These questions are:

    • Thought provoking and invite you to reflect
    • Question your assumptions
    • Stimulate your curiosity and creativity
    • Help move you forward


I know that this mental shift has a huge impact on business and the people who run them. Knowing what you and your team do best is essential. It’s the reason you are in business. If you value ‘the best of what is’, it opens the way to continually dream and design a better business.


I’ve been using some of these techniques in training before coming across Appreciative Inquiry. I train business owners to humanise their brand on the web – I can help you communicate your story in a number of ways. If you’d like to find out more – let’s have a chat.


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Image by Burak Kebapci via Pexel