Appreciative Inquiry

See also Búsqueda Apreciativa / Investigation appréciative

Brief Description:

Adapted from the Appreciative Inquiry Commons:
"Appreciative Inquiry is about the search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them. In its broadest focus, it involves systematic discovery of what gives “life” to a living system when it is most alive, most effective, and most constructively capable in economic, ecological, and human terms. AI involves, in a central way, the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential. It centrally involves the mobilization of inquiry through the crafting of the “unconditional positive question” often-involving hundreds or sometimes thousands of people. In AI the arduous task of intervention gives way to the speed of imagination and innovation; instead of negation, criticism, and spiraling diagnosis, there is discovery, dream, and design. AI seeks, fundamentally, to build a constructive union between a whole people and the massive entirety of what people talk about as past and present capacities: achievements, assets, unexplored potentials, innovations, strengths, elevated thoughts, opportunities, benchmarks, high point moments, lived values, traditions, strategic competencies, stories, expressions of wisdom, insights into the deeper corporate spirit or soul-- and visions of valued and possible futures. ... AI deliberately, in everything it does, seeks to work from accounts of this “positive change core”—and it assumes that every living system has many untapped and rich and inspiring accounts of the positive. Link the energy of this core directly to any change agenda and changes never thought possible are suddenly and democratically mobilized."


When to use:

  • Strategic and project planning internally and externally with partners and stakeholders.
  • Community development.
  • Asset mapping.
  • Program assessment, monitoring and evaluation.
  • Team-building - helping teams to see a new way of working together.
  • Fostering innovation.
  • Conflict resolution.
  • Network building.

How to Use:


The Appreciative Inquiry Process consists of five main steps:

1. Definition: establishing the focus and scope of the inquiry.
2. Discovery: eliciting stories of the system at its best - this is started in pairs, with the stories then shared with larger groups.
3. Dream: collecting the wisdom and imagining the future - this includes graphically visualizng the desired future.
4. Design: bridges to the future based on the best of the past and the present - groups work to use assets discovered in the second phase to design a plan to create the desired future.
5. Destiny: Making it happen.

Tips and Lessons Learnt

Examples & Stories

Here are a few links to case studies and examples:

Who can tell me more?

  • Boru Douthwaite (bdouthwaite[at]
  • Sophie Alvarez (b.sophie.alvarez[at]>
  • Sophie Treinen (sophie.treinen[at]

Related Methods/Tools/Practices:

More Information/Related Resources:
Lusophone resources

Both Investigação Apreciativa and Pesquisa Apreciativa are used to describe AI in Portuguese.