Appreciative Inquiry – Start with what works


“It is our attitude toward events, not events themselves, which we can control.”   ∼ Epictetus


appreciative inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) developed by David Cooperrider is a strength-based approach to multi-stakeholder innovation and collaborative design. Cooperrider’s work is unique because of its ability to enable positive change, innovation, and sustainable design in systems of large and complex scale. AI  inquires about a system’s strengths, possibilities, and successes when dealing with challenges or new opportunities. AI uses five steps known as the 5 Ds.

1. Define – What is the topic of inquiry?

The team identifies a goal that it wants to develop, learn about, or enhance. The goal is stated in the affirmative.

2. DiscoverAppreciating the best of ‘what is’

The aim of this first phase is to discover best practices and to appreciate what motivates and energizes the team and the work they do.

3. Dream – Imagining ‘what could be’

The team envisions how the organization might look in the future once the goal is accomplished.

4. DesignDetermining “what should be’

The aim of this phase is to create or design organizational structures, processes and relationships that support the goal.

5. Deliver/DestinyCreating ‘what will be’

The fifth stage in the 5Ds process identifies how the design is delivered, who is responsible for what and how it is implemented. “I” statements are used to show ownership and accountability.

I have added Basic Needs, Values, and Distractions to further strengthen the process and be aware of blind spots.

1. The fulfillment of Basic Needs

Identifying how individual and collective basic needs will be met through the execution and completion of the goal helps inspires and motivates the team in difficult times.

2. Creating a set of Values

Having a set of agreed upon values for the duration of the project act as a guide by which all members can conduct themselves. Values can act as a moral compass, a framework from which to operate.

3. Identifying Distractions

Doubt, fears, and obstacles can be part of any new endeavor. They can be emotional, physical, mental, or interpersonal and should not be ignored. Voice real or imagined concerns. The team can then identify and implement coping strategies to counteract them when they arise. This also builds team resiliency.

Visit AI Commons to read more about Appreciative Inquiry.

Rejuvenating orgaizations by fostering authenticity, intention, and the collective