Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry

For More Information: Appreciative Inquiry Commons,

To enable full-voice appreciative participation that taps the organization’s positive change core and inspires collaborative action that serves the whole system.


  • Fundamental shift toward cooperation, equality of voice, and high participation
  • A positive revolution, inquiry, and improvisational learning as daily practices
  • Focus on life-giving forces—socially, financially, and ecologically

When to Use:

  • To create a positive revolution
  • To enhance strategic cooperation overcoming conflict, competition
  • To catalyze whole system culture change
  • To facilitate high-participation planning
  • To mobilize global organization design and development
  • To integrate multiple initiatives into a focused whole system effort
  • To support large-scale mergers and acquisitions

When Not to Use:

  • If you are getting the results you desire
  • When lacking commitment to a positive approach to change

Number of Participants:
20–2,000 involved in interviews, large-scale meetings, and collaborative actions

Types of Participants:
Internal and external stakeholders who hold images and tell stories about the organization

Typical Duration:

  • Preparation: Work begins with the first question asked
  • Process: 1 day–many months in nonconference format
  • Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Summit: 4–6 days
  • Total Transition: 3 months–1 year

Brief Example:
Nutrimental Brazil closed the food processing plant for five days and invited 700 people to an AI Summit resulting in full-voice commitment to a renewed strategic plan and a 300 percent increase in sales within three months. The company chose to meet as a large group twice a year to ensure progress on the strategic plan.

Historical Context:
Created in 1987 by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva, colleagues at Case Western Reserve University and the Taos Institute. Theory: Social Construction, Anticipatory Imagery Theory, and Narrative Theory.