Traditional fact-finding tend to revolve around Why. Why did this happen? Why were these things done? Why weren’t these measures implemented?
Appreciative Inquiry tends to revolve around How. How did this situation come to be? How could we do better? How can we change to another strategy?
Asking why can come across as accusatory and blaming. The interrogative approach can quickly put people on side. Because it is about the interrogator, on this side of the table, asking the respondent, on the other side. There is a clear divide between the interrogator and the respondent. Interrogation is defensive blame-focused.
Appreciative Inquiry tends to build collaboration and togetherness. The parties are standing together on the same side of the table, examining the problem together. Inquiry is constructive action-focused.
Interrogation causes the interrogator to use their resources on investigating and analysis. What is truth? What is untruth? The respondent in turn uses their resources in defence.
Inquiry leverages the resources and strengths of both parties to bear on the problem.
In user-centred design and innovation projects, inquiry trumps interrogation every time.