International Journal of Appreciative Inquiry


Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

The THINKdelirium Project: Using an Appreciative Inquiry Approach to Help Staff Engage with Delirium Prevention

by Susan Gee, Tracey Hawkes and Julia Bergman

Download the full article for free. 

Delirium is common amongst older people in hospital, but up to a third of new cases may be prevented by introducing simple preventative protocols. Addressing these preventable risk factors can seem like stating the obvious to staff: ‘But aren’t we doing that already?’ An AI approach provided a way to encourage staff to reflect and identify changes themselves. In a small-scale demonstration project, the AI process led to a significant improvement in awareness amongst the staff.

Delirium is a common and serious illness amongst older people in hospital, but it is be able to be prevented in many cases. An Appreciative Inquiry approach offered us a way to respectfully find out what was working well and how this could inform and inspire improvements in delirium prevention.

The context

Delirium is sudden confusion which develops over hours to days. People with a delirium have trouble thinking clearly, focusing their thoughts and paying attention. This tends to fluctuate across the course of the day. It is different from dementia, which is a progressive cognitive decline that develops and progresses over time. Delirium is under-recognised but surprisingly common, particularly among older people who are hospitalised. Delirium can have lasting and grave consequences for a patient’s recovery, with an increased risk of staying in hospital longer, having more complications, being discharged to long-term care, and dying. (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010).

The potential

A considerable proportion of delirium affecting older people in hospital develops after admission. These are the cases that we can often prevent with better care.

Anything that impacts on the brain can increase the risk of delirium. Conversely, anything that can be done to reduce a cause or risk factor could help prevent delirium. The focus is to target the triggers that can occur during the episode of care. There is considerable consensus about these preventable risk factors to guide prevention protocols. International evidence shows that new cases of delirium developing during admissions can be reduced by a third or more using interventions that target and reduce identified risk factors (Martinez, Tobar and Hill, 2015; Hshieh et al., 2015). Indeed there is more evidence to support the effectiveness of making changes to prevent delirium than there is to support making changes to better treat or manage delirium once it occurs (Francis, 2014).

The barrier

The components of these interventions are simple but the key is consistency. Despite the knowledge that delirium can be reduced, hospitals are indeed in a persistent “know-do” gap:

… as the evidence grows, the state of implementation is not keeping up … Why, then, are these protocols not more widely implemented? … there may be an assumption held by many physicians and hospital leaders along the lines of “aren’t we doing all this stuff already?” Perhaps because most of the interventions to reduce delirium are protocol-based and nursing-driven, it may be easy to assume that such measures are already in place and running in the background at many hospitals. Numerous components of these interventions may simply seem too simple to question that they are not being done already. (Greyson, 2015, p. 521).

In previous studies, the push to change practice to a more preventative approach was supported by a considerable investment of resources in the form of a designated position and/ or a team of volunteers. In the absence of these types of resources, the gap between the potential and actual practice remains.

The AI fit

It seemed to us that an AI approach offered a powerful way to overcome the “but aren’t we doing that already” hurdle, to encourage staff to reflect and identify changes themselves. AI shares many of the values of nursing and allied health professions, and provides an approach that is supportive and respectful (Reed, 2010). Rather than raising defensiveness by a problem-focused or didactic approach, AI recognises the health professionals involved as experts in their own experience who have much to offer, with specialised skills and knowledge that we can access and utilise (Reed, 2010).

Reflective practice is a key skill for nursing and allied health professionals. Natius Oelofsen (2012) discusses how reflective practice starts with curiosity about a puzzling situation and hopefully concludes with a sense of clarity and understanding. This is achieved through a process of looking closer and finding new ways of answering the questions that were raised. AI can be seen as scaffolding health professionals’ self-reflection and providing a way to focus on how best practice can be maintained and further developed (Bellinger & Elliot, 2011; Stefaniak, 2007). The group nature of AI enables conversations that help health professionals to focus on and strengthen their skills and positive experiences, but also to imagine possibilities together that may go beyond what any one individual might create themselves (Wasserman and Namee, 2010).

The project

The participants were recruited through invitations at Older Person’s Health Specialist Service education days and learning networks. The fifteen volunteers were spread amongst various wards and outpatient teams and twelve nurses, a social worker, an occupational therapist and a physiotherapist.

A key feature of an AI approach is that the methods of inquiry are themselves part of the intervention. Inquiry and change are simultaneous and, by stimulating reflection, inquiry can lead to different ways of thinking (Reed 2007, 2010). To document this we introduced a repeated measures design: a baseline individual interview, a guided AI group discussion, and then a follow-up individual interview.

While an AI discovery phase often begins with the participants interviewing each other, we began with a separate one-to-one interview with a member of the research team. This interview began the appreciative discovery process by framing the conversation with positive questions, but also provided a baseline measure of awareness of the status of risk factors in day-to-day practice. The interviewer asked participants to think about the last older patient in their case load that they interacted with. The preventable risk factors were simplified by a PINCHES ME Kindly mnemonic: Pain, Infection, Nutrition and Constipation, Hydration, Exercise, Sleep, Medication, Environment and person-centred care (kindly). The discussion went through each of the risk factors in turn, for example “Was Mr X in pain? How did you know?” We also asked participants to talk about what was working well to help to prevent, identify or manage each risk.

We gathered the participants together into small groups for a guided AI discussion or “brainstorming session” with the research team. The brain storm was semi-structured to lead the discussion through an iteration of the AI cycle, but remain flexible and fluid (Reed, 2007). The core questions that guided the discussion (see Table 1) opened with sharing what participants were proud of, and flowed on to how things could be even better, and the steps that could be taken to get there. Again, we used the PINCHES ME Kindly mnemonic to help collate the tips and ideas during the discussion about what people were proud of and the magic wand question, with a large sheet of paper for each risk factor alongside broader environmental factors.

Follow-up interviews a month later allowed us to gauge how much had changed since the first interview and what the participants thought of the process. Staff were again asked to talk individually about a specific case to provide a post-intervention measure of awareness of risk factors.

To document the impact of the reflective process on the individuals involved, the awareness of risk factors from each interviews was categorised as 1: cursory, 2: moderate, or 3: thorough by each of the three researchers. The coding was then compared and any discrepancies resolved by consensus, with evolving coding notes to clarify future decisions.

To help embed and sustain change, specific projects that emerged from the discussion were dovetailed into the work stream of the existing Dementia and Delirium group. A link group was set up to enable participants and other interested staff to remain involved.


Key questions / activities


Sharing the positive

One-to-one interviews: What is working well…?

Group, opening question: You’ve all had the opportunity to reflect about what’s happening with delirium prevention for you currently, and we’d like to start by gathering together some ideas about what is being successful. Thinking back about your interviews – what parts made you feel proud to talk to share. What’s working well for you for delirium prevention?


Sharing a vision

Group, magic wand question: … We’ve gathered together some of the good things that you are doing that really work for delirium prevention. How might we make it better? If you could transform the way you work so that you are more focused on delirium prevention, what would it look like, what would it take to happen? Imagine that you can wave your magic wand and anything is possible – for you, your team, your environment. You’ve got three wishes for delirium prevention in your own work setting – what are they going to be?


Sharing what we think should be

Group, developing provocative propositions (Bridging dream and design): We are going to come up with some statements – our vision, our goal for what we are going to look like in a couple of years when we “think delirium” in our work setting. They are going to be positive. And they going to be bold: “if you are good we want better, if you are great we want outstanding…”

Group: Identifying specific “projects” for the service that would make a difference


Sharing a commitment to change

Group, personal goals: Now our last thing is that we want you to think about your own goals in the short term. We’ve got a sheet here for you to fill in three goals – what are you are to aim to do when you walk out that door?

One-to-one follow-up interview

Action planning and implementation: Specific projects were followed through with the support of delirium groups and the participants could remain involved through a link group

Six-month survey


The actions

Part of the Appreciative Inquiry process is to take the ideas that have been generated about what is working and visions for the future, and to turn them into concrete actions about what could be done differently. The AI process was an effective kick-starter for sparking a number of further specific projects.

The vision for a service that “thinks delirium prevention” that emerged had three overarching themes: committed, consistent and a great care environment. We used the simple PINCHES ME Kindly mnemonic to summarise risk factors during the project. The participants strongly embraced this and wanted it to be the core of the ongoing actions.

A committed environment included being proactive about delirium prevention with PINCHES ME Kindly ingrained throughout the service. Identified actions included education, reminders and resources to encourage this.

Collating the Discovery and Dream phase questions can be seen as forming the basis of a good practice guide (Bellinger and Elliott, 2011). A user-friendly fun booklet was created to share the tips and possibilities from participants to inspire other staff (Gee, Bergman, Hawkes & Croucher, 2016). This well-received book provides a useful bridge between abstract international guidelines and how they can be operationalised in daily practice.

  • A poster/handout summary version of PINCHES ME Kindly was created for publicity and education.
  • The THINKdelirium resources are being used by CDHB nurses in orientation and in-house education, and there are moves to spread this, given that delirium prevention requires a multidisciplinary approach. A multidisciplinary working group has been set up to integrate the THINKdelirium booklet into an online education package.
  • An annual “Spring Into Delirium” day has been initiated to raise awareness of the THINKdelirium messages and resources and where to locate them.
  • The consistent theme focused on consistently and comprehensively assessing and addressing the risk factors. Identified actions included having documentation resources available to accurately monitor relevant risk factors.
  • A THINKdelirium webpage has been created on the staff intranet. This provides an interactive summary of PINCHES ME Kindly, with links to download the THINKdelirium and associated documentation resources.
  • A summary of the PINCHES ME Kindly message has been added to the routine documentation for hospital aids when they are providing close observation.
  • Staff are considering how the PINCHES ME Kindly message can be included in records and discharge documentation.
  • A great care environment focused on providing person-centred care. Identified actions included more resources for activities, and a prevention-focused brochure for care-partners.
  • The staff were keen to be supported to encourage meaningful activity for older people on the wards. A follow-up project is trialling the introduction of “activity trolleys” with activity resources and tips alongside a staff-education package.
  • Staff wanted ways to engage care partners to help prevent older people getting delirium. Based on international exemplars, a prevention-focused brochure for those supporting older people in hospital has been developed.

The impact for participants

The AI approach was effective in engaging staff and overcoming the “aren’t we doing that already” hurdle. A nonparametric Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to test the difference between the sum pre-test and post-test scores, and an effect size was calculated (Field, 2009). There was a significant improvement in the awareness of the status of the target risk factors for older people in their care when the follow-up interviews were compared with the baseline interviews (z = 3.21, p. <.001,) with a moderate effect size of .59. This change is illustrated in Figure 1 which shows the increase in the proportion of the participants being given the highest rating of awareness for each of the risk factors.

All of the participants gave positive qualitative feedback about being involved in the project during the follow-up interviews, with the predominant themes being that they “enjoyed the process”, and “learned a lot”. A six-month follow-up survey was completed by fourteen of the fifteen participants, and again all were positive about the project. In particular, all the participants agreed that the project inspired them to do more to pro-actively prevent delirium, and that it was worthwhile taking part in the project. Twelve of the respondents identified specific changes in their personal practice and thirteen identified activities or changes that they were inspired to champion in their workplace.

Examples of feedback included

Everyone on our ward has thought the booklet is fantastic. We have found it really useful for our nursing students also. We also love the brochure for families … What a fantastic project to be involved in! It challenged my thinking and made me think about my practice.

My awareness of delirium [now] makes me ask more specific questions regarding risk factors in my assessments. I also provide information/education to clients/families where appropriate. I have provided an in-service session to my immediate team … and [plan to] discuss with the team to include [delirium tool] in our initial assessment tools. I very much appreciated being able to participate in the project.

The discussion

There are well-established guidelines for delirium prevention (e.g., National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010), with good evidence of the benefits when they are followed (Martinez, Tobar and Hill, 2015; Hshieh et al., 2015). However, while guidelines are commonly produced as a tool to promote best practice, it has been recognised that on their own they often have little impact on behaviour (Greyson, 2015) and that strength of evidence is not a good predictor of the likelihood of adherence (Ricart et al., 2003). AI was a very effective tool to help to bridge the gap between the abstract guidelines (but aren’t we doing that already?) and what that could look like in the real world. AI gave a way of basing our projects and resources on listening, which has helped to increase engagement and ownership. While we have not yet achieved our ideal vision for the organisation we are excited about the collaborative steps we are taking toward it.

We were drawn to the AI approach for this project because of our positive experiences using an AI approach with our adult students, and our recognition of the synergy between an AI approach and reflective professional practice. Appreciative Inquiry holds that at its best, change is a process of inquiry grounded in affirmation and appreciation (Whitney and Trosten-Bloom, 2010). The AI approach was a chance to provide recognition of the staff and help them work from their strengths (Whitney and Trosten-Bloom, 2010). The staff were respected as experienced professionals, and their contributions were recognised and valued as a resource to be shared. The approach encouraged the participants to recognise the importance of what they do and their potential to make a difference. The AI approach was about asking questions, not providing solutions.

Reflective practice itself can be seen as a process of inquiry: the process of asking questions helps us to look at what we are doing and reflect on how we can do things even better. The use of positive questions and constructing positive images of the future in the AI process helped to inspire positive change. The AI process worked so well because it was both visionary and pragmatic. It helped to inspire a larger vision of an ideal environment while also exploring the small practical steps that could be taken (Loveday, 2011). The AI process was not just a constructive process for generating actions for the teams, but also a positive and effective learning experience for the individual participants.


Bellinger, A. and Elliott, T. (2011) What are You Looking At? The potential of Appreciative Inquiry as a research approach for social work, British Journal of Social Work, 41, 708–725.


Kadi-Hanifi, K., O. Dagman, J. Peters, E. Snell, C. Tutton, and T. Wright. (2014) Engaging Students and Staff with Educational Development Through Appreciative Inquiry, Innovations in Educational and Teaching International, 51(6), 584–594.


Field, A. (2009) Discovering Statistics Using SPSS (3rd Ed.). London, UK: Sage.

Francis, J. (2014) Delirium and Confusional States: Prevention, treatment, and prognosis. In M. J. Aminoff and K. E. Schmader, (Eds), UpToDate, Waltham, MA: Wolters Kluwer Health.

Gee, S., J. Bergmann, T. Hawkes and M. Croucher. (2016) THINKdelirium Preventing Delirium Amongst Older People in Our Care. Tips and Strategies from the Older Persons’ Mental Health THINKDelirium Prevention Project. Christchurch, NZ: Canterbury District Health Board. Available from:

Greyson, S. R., (2015) Delirium and the “Know-do” Gap in Acute Care for Elders, JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(4), 521–522.

Hshieh, T. T., J. Yue, E. Oh, M. Puelle, S. Dowal, T. Travison and S. K. Inouye. (2015) Effectiveness of Multicomponent Nonpharmacological Delirium Interventions: A meta-analysis, JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(4), 512–520.


Loveday, B. (2011. Dementia Training in Care Homes. In T. Dening and A. Milne (Eds.) Mental Health and Care Homes (pp. 327–344). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Martinez, F., C. Tobar and N. Hill, N. (2015) Preventing Delirium: Should non-pharmacological, multicomponent interventions be used? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature, Age and Ageing, 44(2), 196–204.


National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. (2010) Delirium: Diagnosis, prevention and management (Clinical guideline 103). London, UK: NICE. Available from

Oelofsen N. (2012) Using Reflective Practice in Frontline Nursing. Nursing Times, 108(24), 22–24.

Reed, J. (2007) Appreciative Inquiry: Research for Change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Reed, J. (2010). Appreciative Inquiry and Older People–Finding the Literature. International Journal of Older People Nursing, 5(4), 292–298.

Ricart, M., C. Lorente, E. Diaz, M. H. Kollef and J. Rello. (2003) Nursing Adherence with Evidence-based Guidelines for Preventing Ventilator-associated Pneumonia, Critical Care Medicine, 31(11), 2693–2696.


Stefaniak, K. (2007) Discovering Nursing Excellence through Appreciative Inquiry, Nurse Leader, 5(2), 42–46.


Wasserman, I.C. and S. McNamee. (2010) Promoting Passionate Care with Older People: A relational imperative, International Journal of Older People Nursing, 5, 309–316.

Whitney, D. and A. Trosten-Bloom. (2010) The Power of Appreciative Inquiry (2nd Ed). San Fancisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

Reading List: Books Referred to in Wick’s Articles

Argyris, C. (1970) Intervention Theory and Method: A Behavioural Science View. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Bennis, W.G. and H. A. Shephard. (1956) A Theory of Group Development. Human Relations, 9, 415–457.

Biesen, F. van and H. van der Zee. (1985) Het educatieve aspect van organisaties. M&O, 1985(4), 301–315.

Block, P. (1999) Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting your Expertise Used. 2nd Ed. New York: Wiley.

Bushe,G. and R. Marshak. (2015) Dialogic Organization Development: The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change. San Francisco, CA: Berret-Koehler.

Cooperrider, D. L. and S. Srivastva.(1987) Appreciative Inquiry in Organizational Life. In: D. L. Cooperrider, P. F. Sorensen, Jr., D. Whitney and T. F Yaeger. (Eds). Appreciative Inquiry: Rethinking Human Organization Toward a Positive Theory of Change, pp. 55–97. Champaign, Illinois: Stipes Publishing.

Gergen, K. J. (1978) Toward Generative Theory, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36(11), 1344–1360.


Gergen, K. J. (1993) Refiguring Self and Psychology. Dartmouth Publishing Co.

Gergen, K. J. (1999, 2009) An Invitation to Social Construction. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Gergen, Kenneth. (2009) Relational Being: Beyond Self and Community. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gibb, J. (1964) Climate for Trust Formation. In L. P. Bradford, J. R. Gibb, and K. D. Benne (Eds) Group Theory and Laboratory Method. New York: Wiley.

Johnson, D. and Johnson, F. (2006) Joining Together: Group Theory and Group Skills. Pearson Allyn and Bacon.

Kolb, D. A., I. M. Rubin and J. McIntyre. (1984) Organizational Psychology: An Experiential Approach to Organizational Behavior. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Prentice Hall Inc.

Kolb, D.A., J. S. Osland and I. M. Rubin. (1995) Organizational Behavior: An Experiential Approach. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Prentice Hall Inc.

Lewin, K. (1935) A Dynamic Theory of Personality. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Lewin, K. (1948) Resolving Social Conflicts: Selected Papers on Group Dynamics. Gertrud Weiss Lewin (Ed). Washington: American Psychological Association.

Marrow, A. J. (1969). The Practical Theorist: The Life and Works of Kurt Lewin. New York: Basic Books Ltd.

Mintzberg, H. (1978) The Structuring of Organizations. Pearson.

Morgan, G. (2006) Images of Organizations. SAGE Publications.

Schein, E. H. (1999) Procesadvisering: Over de ondersteunende rol van de adviseur en de samenwerking tussen adviseur en cliënt [Process Consultation Revisited: Building the helping relationship]. Amsterdam.

Shaw, P. (2002) Changing Conversations in Organizations: A Complexity Approach to Change (Complexity and Emergence in Organizations). Routledge.

Shotter, J. (1975) Images of Man in Psychological Research. Methuen,

Shotter, J. and Gould, A. (1977) Human Action and its Psychological Investigation. Routledge.

Stacey, Ralph D. (2003) Complexity and Group Process: A Radically Social Understanding of Individuals. London and New York: Routledge.

Watkins, J., B. Mohr and R. Kelley (2001) Appreciative Inquiry: Change at the Speed of the Imagination. New York: Wiley.

Weick, K. E. (1969) The Social Psychology of Organizing. McGraw-Hill.

Weick, K. E. (1995) Sensemaking in Organizations. SAGE Publications.

White, Ralph K. and Lippitt, Ronald. (1960) Autocracy and Democracy: An Experimental Inquiry. Westport: Greenwood Press.

Appreciative Peer Review: A Procedure

In this article, you will find a description of a procedure for Appreciative Peer Review.

This method is a combination of:

  • Kurt Lewin’s Action Research Model;
  • Peer consultation as developed by Caplan and translated into Dutch by Jannie de Weerd;
  • Appreciative Inquiry (David Cooperrider, Jane Magruder Watkins).

Duration: 1.5 hours

Useful: having one of the facilitators take notes during the session, write down the steps in the process.

Below you will find information on all steps in the process:

  • Discovering;
  • Sharing;
  • Dreaming;
  • Designing;
  • Delivering;
  • Evaluating.


discovering appreciative inquiryWe start our discovery when someone brings an unsolved and current work-related issue to the table. In this first phase, we look at what the person asking the question (“the subject”) would like to happen, and how we can help.

The goal of Discovering is: agreeing on the “affirmative theme” (the question we work with) and the input of everyone in the group. The key is that the subject retains ownership of the issue, and is responsible for the follow-up. The affirmative theme is the original question, rephrased in a positive way.

Questions that may help in this phase are:

  • Imagine we are at the end of this session and it has been extremely successful. What has happened? What would make you feel content?
  • What can I or what can we do for you in the next hour and a half?

An example
A manager feels her team lacks motivation. Occasionally, they simply don’t seem to care. A facilitator has asked her: “Could you tell me a story about a situation in which your team performed exactly as you envisioned?”

She answers that this had actually happened just the week before: a problem that urgent attention and everyone came together to fix it. She ordered pizzas, and everyone worked late so the customers would not be affected for longer than absolutely necessary. This is something she would love to happen more often: for her team to really be there for the customers. And she would like for the peer-review group to give her some tools and ideas on how to achieve this.

The manager’s “problem” – lack of motivation – has been changed into the opportunity to serve her customers with her team. Her question to the group is clear: provide me with the tools to achieve this.

Sharing stories

sharing appreciative inquiryOnce we have formulated an affirmative theme, we can invite the subject to share their story. We do this on the premise that they have already experienced the desired outcome their affirmative theme relates to at least once. Together, we determine a concrete situation in which the subject has had a positive experience with the issue at hand, and identify which factors and conditions contributed to this success.

The goal of Sharing stories is to: formulate the “positive core”, the factors that have in the past contributed to the successful realisation of at least part of the affirmative theme.

Questions that may help in this phase, are:

  • Can you share a story about a situation in which you had a good experience with … (the affirmative theme)?
  • What happened, exactly?
  • Who was involved?
  • How did you contribute?
  • What was the effect of your contribution?
  • Which of your qualities and skills did you use?
  • Which conditions played a vital role?
  • Listening to your own story, what can you conclude?
  • Are you perhaps already starting to formulate an answer to the question we started this session with?

The contribution of the other participants in this phase is to provide explicit feedback on what they hear: the qualities and skills involved, and the relevant factors and conditions. It helps to write these down to hand them to the subject later on.

An example, continued
The manager we met before most definitely has a story about customer satisfaction. She might say: “Last week we had a situation that caused problems for a large number of customers. We had to act fast. My whole team went above and beyond the call of duty. We took hardly any breaks and worked together till eight at night to solve the issue. We ordered pizzas and I was able to assist a few customers myself. Other than that, I didn’t need to do that much. I just walked around the department and thanked my team for their efforts. I did notice Frank excelled, which I hadn’t expected because he can be a bit of a slacker. I complimented him on his work and he looked very pleased. Yes, that was a wonderful day indeed.”

A facilitator can capture a list of the “positive core” of this story. For example:

  • There was an emergency.
  • All team members put in a lot of effort.
  • The manager ordered in pizza.
  • She assisted the team in their work.
  • She walked around and thanked the team.
  • She complimented a team member who did unexpectedly well.

If we ask the subject for a concrete example, a lot of information comes to the fore, especially when we ask her direct questions to bring her back into that situation. She might not even be aware of all of the factors that contributed to this success story. Often people will say: “Well, of course – that is part of my job.”

Something else happens when people share their story. We as a group get involved in the story, and we feel a connection to the person sharing, making for a more involved group process.


dreaming appreciative inquiryThis phase is about creating images around the ideal situation relating to the affirmative theme. It might help to read aloud all of the factors and conditions for success that came to the fore during the last phase, followed by the question: “What if all these conditions are met by … [a relevant date in the future], and you have achieved your ideal. What will that look like?”

We explicitly ask for images to invite the subject to paint their perfect picture. This is a creative and non-linear process, requiring our mind to operate in a different manner than when we are writing a memo, for example, when we are using the analytical part of our brain.

The goal of Dreaming is: to create an image of the desired future that is so attractive that actions become a matter of course.

Questions that may help in this phase, are:

  • If all the factors for success that you just listed were completely realised by … (relevant date in the near future), what would that look like?
  • How did you get there? What were your contributions?
  • What metaphor for that situation comes to mind?
  • If you could make a movie of that situation, what would it be called?
  • What role would you play in this movie?
  • If a newspaper would interview you this time next year, what is the story you would want to tell?
  • How would you summarise your success in one sentence for the interviewer?
  • In this phase, the peer-review group asks the subject for concrete images, not for a plan of action.

An example, continued
Reiterating for the manager the qualities, skills, factors and conditions that led to success, will probably reinforce the feeling that the team is doing pretty well, at least at crucial moments. But of course it would be even better if the team performed like that in other situations as well.

This is the time for us to ask her how she envisions this: “Imagine, in three months, everything we have just listed has been realised and your team is performing as you want, what will that look like? What picture comes to mind?”

After some consideration she answers: “A great metaphor for me, is that we are a rowing team doing our best to all go in the same direction, in order to help our customers. At the moment, we each tend to do our own thing, leaving us without direction.”

“So, would you be the cox?”

“Yes, that’s how I see myself. And I feel that’s how the team would like me to act too; to give them direction.”

“And will you be a rowing team battling for first place?”

“No, that’s not very important to me. In fact, I don’t care if all other teams beat us, but I do care we get the best out of ourselves. Because that is what I saw last week: if we are our best selves, our customers are happy.”

Often it can take a while for a subject to come up with an image or metaphor that inspires them and applies to their situation. It is important we ask for our subject’s contribution, or possible contribution, to the success story.

As the desired future image takes shape, the next step to reach the ideal situation also comes into focus. If needed, there can be an intermediate step, for example, asking the subject for a mission statement. In the above example this could be something like: “A rowing team that has a clear course, in which each team member participates to their best abilities.”


designing appreciative inquiry“Between dreams and actions there are laws and practical issues…” When people want to realise their ideal situation, they are inclined to create a plan of action and start doing something. In the Design phase, we give them the opportunity to pause in order to increase their chance of success.

The goal of the Designing phase is: to create an overview of which people to approach and what means to use to engage them to achieve the ideal situation.

Questions that may help in this phase, are:

  • Who could help you realise the ideal situation?
  • And who else?
  • Who haven’t you considered yet?
  • How will you approach these people?
  • Which other communication tools could you use?
  • What can others do for you?
  • Which books, articles, films, and so on could help you with that?

In this phase the peer-review group is encouraged to think along, out loud. Any tips or pointers are welcome. They might know people who could help, know of a useful book, be able to advise on means of communication that have worked for them, and so on.

An example, continued
How can the manager increase the odds of her team becoming that rowing team in which everyone aims to get the best out of themselves? In the Design phase we are not yet looking to create a plan of action, but rather to increase the chance of success by providing the subject with insights and perspectives from which to choose.

In this situation, these could be things like:

  • Peter Block has written an interesting book, Empowerment in Organisations, which could give our manager new insights.
  • There are inspiring videos available on YouTube.
  • She might know a fellow manager who is well-liked by her team, who can think along with her.
  • She could reach out to someone in higher management, for instance if she needs funds for a team-building activity.
  • If someone in her team under-performs, she could get them a coach.
  • She herself might benefit from some coaching sessions.
  • One of the peer-review group members could meet her for coffee to think along with her.

In this phase a sort of brainstorm takes place, during which the entire group can make suggestions to further aid the subject. Of course, the subject retains responsibility for the next step: they are best suited to determine what they have already tried and what could work. It might be frustrating to the group members to not have their advice followed, but again, the subject determines what is valuable in this specific situation.


delivering appreciative inquiryIn the Design phase, many ideas will have been considered to bring the ideal situation closer. The subject can now determine which small concrete step(s) they want to take first. After all, they know the context, and are best able to determine which steps will lead to success.

The role of the peer-review group in this phase is to help the subject make this next step as small and concrete as possible. They could repeat the question: “What is your first small step?” a few times to make the action more concrete.

A first small step may appear tiny
The importance of the first step is to get moving, no matter how small that movement may be. The first step is not taken during the group session but afterwards. The idea behind this is that the moment the action is taken there is the opportunity to give meaning to it: “I know what I think when I see what I do.” (Karl Weick). The realisation phase combined with the evaluation phase leads to answering the original question.

The goal of the Delivering phase is: to get a clear picture of the first action that will help answer or nuance the original question, and to instil confidence and determination in our subject.

Questions that may help in this phase, are:

  • What is your first step? (Ask four times if necessary!)
  • Who can help you take this first step?
  • What will people say to you after you’ve taken this step?
  • On a scale of one to ten, how much confidence do you have that this will work? And why? How could you raise that number? And how can I help you with that? Or can someone else?

An example, continued
Our manager has collected a number of ideas and suggestions during the previous phase, both her own and those from members of the group. She can now choose the idea that appeals to her the most, at least in the short term.

She might say: “Now that I think about it, I was recently at a conference where I met a colleague from another organisation who was experiencing the same issues with her team. I think I might contact her, I must have her business card lying around somewhere…”

“So what could be your first small step?”

“I could contact her.”

“So what will be your first small step?”

“Call her? But I’d have to find her card first! It might be in my bag, hang on … Ah, here it is. You know what, I’ll call her tomorrow to set up a meeting. I hope that eases your minds!”

Getting someone to undertake action during the group session is a nice bonus. It means we can ask her immediately whether she has placed the call and what could be her next small step. It can feel forced to keep asking the question “What is your first small step?”, but it helps the subject to become specific and take responsibility for the follow-up.


evaluating appreciative inquiryThis step is something I miss in the Appreciative Inquiry literature; at the same time, I feel that it is vital to go back to the original question. Has this session provided a solution for the problem? It helps me to go back to the original question the subject asked – not the affirmative theme, the actual question, word for word. By referring back to this we are able to get a clearer idea of the result of our peer-review session.

Evaluating is not only important to get an idea of what we have accomplished and how we got there, it also re-emphasises the first step. Moreover, we may find that during the session another issue has arisen that is worth looking into, so that evaluation leads to reconnaissance again.

The goal of this last step is to: find out in how far this process has helped the subject answer the unsolved current work-related issue that started this peer-review group meeting. Additionally, it serves to determine the outcome of the result(s) and examine whether the original question has really been answered or whether it has shifted, been nuanced or become irrelevant.

Questions that may help in this phase:

  • What did you get out of this meeting?
  • What is the most important thing you learnt today?
  • Has another question arisen during our session?
  • What has helped you?
  • What else could we have added, did you miss anything?
  • What could we have done differently?

An example, conclusion
Our manager started out by saying that she felt her team lacked motivation. During the reconnaissance phase, a new question emerged, but we could still ask her whether she feels her team is more motivated now.

She might say: “Oh right, that’s something I did raise a while back. But it has become irrelevant now. The discussion we ended up having was much more valuable than a discussion about my team’s motivational issues.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, by looking to my team for the problem and its solution, I took away my responsibility to act. Now, I am the one undertaking action and that really is a lot fairer.”

“And how did that happen during our peer-review group meeting?”

“Firstly, by rephrasing what the problem actually was. But also by focusing on how I could use my skills and qualities, and by creating an ideal image and making that concrete. This led me to take responsibility for my team, and that has led to a better way of influencing them. And a greater mutual appreciation! So thank you all very much!”

During a peer-review session, the subject’s question often moves. While talking, people discover what is actually troubling them. In fact, by simply talking about their issue and stating their question out loud, it often disappears on its own accord. During this last phase, the subject marks this process for themselves and the group.

This article has been published in the November 2017 issue of AI Practitioner. You can download the full issue ‘What Really Matters: Celebrating Wick van der Vaart’ the author of this peer review for € 19,95.

You can read the original version of this article in Dutch on the website of Instituut voor Interventiekunde.

Resources on Business, Schools and Communities as Agents of World Benefit

Appreciative Inquiry Resources features a rediscovery of classic and new resources for your use. Resources will include list-serves, books, journal articles, book chapters, DVDs, websites, blogs, podcasts, etc. … all in one place useful for learning more about AI to help with your consulting practice, internal work, teaching, training and extending your knowledge base and resources.

The Spring 2017 issue of AI Practitioner focuses on AI and strengths-based disciplines in business schools, businesses and communities.

The Resources column editors of the Spring 2017 issue of AI Practitioner have brought together resources relating to Appreciative Inquiry and strengths-based disciplines, and the ways in which they are being integrated in business schools in particular, but also in businesses that are game changers and in communities worldwide.


Positive Psychology and Appreciative Inquiry in Higher Education
Peter C. Mather and Eileen Hulme (2013)
John Wiley & Sons

This book explores how positive psychology and AI can contribute to the mission of higher education, presenting a variety of strategies for bolstering student learning and development. During a time of daunting challenges, positive psychology and AI can help leverage higher education’s assets to optimize the potential of students, faculty and staff.

Articles and Papers

Universities: Can they be considered as learning organizations? A preliminary micro-level perspective
Ozlem Bak (2012)
The Learning Organization, 19 (2), 163–172

This study explores a department in a UK higher education institute based on Senge’s five characteristics of learning organizations. The findings show that learning‐ organization characteristics were present.

Appreciative Inquiry as a Model for Assessing the Value of Business School Education
Michelle Browning (2014)
Journal of Business and Educational Leadership (1) 64

The focus of the research is to discuss current methods and challenges associated with assessing student learning in business school education, with AI highlighted as an effective alternative method for assessing the value of the business school education reflected through student learning.

Mobilizing Change in a Business School Using Appreciative Inquiry
Gina Grandy and Judith Holton (2010)
The Learning Organization, 17(2), 178–194

The purpose of this paper is to explore how AI as a pedagogical tool can be generative in creating opportunities for development and change in a business school context. The experiential nature of the AI process was successful in encouraging collaboration and team building, and empowering individuals toward a collection vision.

Developing Globally Responsible Leaders in Business Schools: A Vision and Transformational Practice for the Journey Ahead
Katrin Muff (2013)
Journal of Management Development, 32(5), 487–507
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.169–195.

Most educational activities still take place in a conservative format of the hierarchical teacher–student relationship in rather traditional educational facilities. But students are motivated and engaged when they understand why information is important for them. Through an inquiry-based approach, abstract information becomes tangible and contextualized. Although addressing courses for architecture students, the inquiry-based learning and teaching experiences from these courses will inform a larger, more general audience interested in the subject matter.

The Role of Business in Society
Göran Norén (2004)

This report shares with readers how business is developing society globally, and continues to be the cornerstone of social development and welfare The interesting aspect of the report is the integration of benefit to business and society, by identifying the drivers for organizations’ commitment to community, and how such commitment reduces business risks and facilitate the growth of business.

Avon Products
Lynn Sharp Paine (2000)
Harvard Business School Case 301-059

This teaching case demonstrates the use of AI for unifying vision for Avon Products which, through integration achieved at the organizational level, created world benefit, albeit indirectly.

Websites and blogs

What is the role of business in society?
Corporate reporting blog (2011)

This blog has a strong message: “business is about sustaining the well-being of all those who interact with it … and in the long run its success will, in my view, be central to society’s success.”

GameChangers 500
Team GameChangers500

This organization ranks and publishes the best practices of the leading For-Benefit organizations so other enterprises and entrepreneurs can access innovative techniques on topics like profit sharing, being a zero-waste office, or writing a Theory of Change.


ST Foundation
Team ST Foundation


This website reports on ST Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Geneva, established by STMicroelectronics for globally unifying people using digital education. The foundation operates in both in developing countries where there is a need to overcome social, economic and technological inequalities to achieve human progress and economic growth, and in countries where STMicroelectronics has a strong presence, including specific areas of developed countries where economic distress persists.


Imagine Chicago
Team Imagine Chicago

This website provides details about ‘Imagine Chicago’ – a non-profit organization created and dedicated to cultivating hope and civic commitment. The organization works with change agents in organizations, institutions and communities, building local capacity with strength-based communication and development tools and opportunities for collaboration that make a difference.

Roopa Nandi
Roopa Nandi is Assistant Professor at GD Goenka World Institute I Lancaster University. Her research interest includes learning, organisational learning and spirituality. Her approach is premised on Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and she practices AI for organisational development and change.


Hardik Shah, Ph.D.
Hardik is a faculty member at the IMT, Ghaziabad, India. His research interests include psychometric assessment, AI and OD. He has conducted executive development programs for over 6500 managers. He has co-edited one book on AI, ’Dynamics of AI-Concepts and Applications’, and written over 25 research papers.



Resources on AI and young practitioners.

The guest editors and Resources column editors of the February 2017 issue of AI Practitioner have brought together resources relating to Appreciative Inquiry and its use with and by young practitioners. Some are new, some are rediscoveries of materials relevant to the topic. We hope that these resources will be useful to both practitioners, researchers and leaders of today, and those of tomorrow.

Articles and Papers

Appreciative Inquiry with Children and Youth: Harnessing a Powerful Approach to Occupational Change

Heidi Cramm and Wendy Pentland (2012)
Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention, 5 (3–4), pp.
239–247. DOI: http://dx.doi .org/10.1080/19411243.2012.744649

This paper focuses on how occupational therapists can use AI to seek answers when practising occupational therapy with children or youth. The paper asserts how, when occupational therapists intentionally use AI approach with children and youth, it changes perspective on framing the problem and how to solve it, as well as locating possible solutions in a given situation.

Preparing Leaders for the Multi-generational Workforce
Rocky J. Dw yer and Ana Azevedo (2016)
Journal of Enterprising Communities : People and Places in the Global
Economy 10(3), pp. 281–305.
DOI: http://dx.doi .org/10.1108/JEC-08-2013-0025

This paper provides insights into how organisational leaders can promote a multicultural environment that leverages multi-generational differences and offers innovative pedagogical approaches that can help better prepare future business leaders for these challenges. It advocates the need to understand generational differences to manage the challenges associated with differences in attitudes, values and preferences regarding leadership, human resource practices and organisational change initiatives.

Appreciative Inquiry Evaluation of Child and Adolescent Community Interventions in South Africa and United Kingdom
David J. Edwards (2015)
Journal of Psychology in Africa, 25(1), pp. 91–94.
DOI: http://dx.doi .org/10.1080/14330237.2015.1007612

The refreshing perspective of this paper is the use of AI for the comparative evaluation of South African and United Kingdom child and adolescent community interventions. South African practitioners in were represented by psychology categories such as student, education, counselling and clinical categories,
whereas UK practitioners were represented by correctional officers and educational specialists. It might be interesting to read the evaluation through the appreciative lens: the word ‘evaluation’ seldom reflects ‘appreciation’.

Changing Landscapes of Education: Teaching Architecture through Inquiry-Based Approaches
aylin yildirim tSCHoePe (2014)
IN: INQuIrY-BaSED lEarNINg fOr thE artS, humaNItIES, aND SOCIal SCIENCES: aConCePtual and PraCtiCal reSourCe for eduCatorS (innovationS in HigHer
eduCation, teaCHing and learning, volume 2), editorS PatriCk BleSSinger, JOhN m. CarfOra.
EmEralD grOup puBlIShINg lImItED, pp.169–195.
DOI: http://Dx.DOI.Org/10.1108/S2055-364120140000002033

Most educational activities still take place in a conservative format of the hierarchical teacher–student relationship in rather traditional educational facilities. But students are motivated and engaged when they understand why information is important for them. Through an inquiry-based approach, abstract information becomes tangible and contextualized. Although addressing courses for architecture students, the inquiry-based learning and teaching experiences from these courses will inform a larger, more general audience interested in the subject matter.

A Balanced Approach to Youth Justice: Strengths-based Practice, Appreciative Inquiry and the Group Consult Tool
Dave Wood (2009)
SOCIal WOrK NOW, VOl 42 aprIl 2009, pp. 30–36.

This article draws attention to vocabularies that are defi cit based in youth justice work with a contrast to vocabularies that are strength based. The focus on a strength based approach is viewed as a shift in paradigm that creates opportunities to look at off enders in diff erent light. It creates space for respecting the off ender and considers them as people who can be dealt with cooperation compared to coercion. The author asserts how, within the context of youth justice, vocabularies of deficit and pathology are dominant and viewing the same situation through an appreciative lens creates an environment of collaboration, participation and empowerment. It also allows for meaningful engagement with youth and their families.

Websites and blogs

How to wrangle a millennial
dangerouS mereditH (2015)

Millennials tend to be described either as paragons of empathy and creativity or narcissistic, over-indulged brats. To borrow a phrase from Jane Austen, they
“deserve neither such praise nor such censure”. This article talks about how to manage them in appreciative way – they’re just people, respect them and talk to
them in the same way you do with your older colleagues.

Life-Giving Change: Using Appreciative Inquiry for Youth Ministry
Jake mulder (2012)

This blog discusses administering Appreciative Inquiry for congregational services with youth who are new to church. To quote the author “By asking the right people the right questions, it is possible for you to help recreate your youth ministry or even your entire church.” The power of right questions is significant, and it can make a difference in the way the we view the world and our entire surroundings.

Conscious Parenting Through Appreciative Inquiry
tHe PerSonal WellneSS Center (nd)

This blog aims to provide insight on how parenting can be infused with AI. The article provides details by raising curiosity regarding conscious parenting. If parenting is designed appreciatively, there is space for building and strengthening relationships with children. In addition, if parents take responsibility for every action, they are able to demonstrate love and affection in a better way, and everyday living is signifi cantly changed for the better. The article provides questions that can be used by readers at all the four stages of the AI 4D cycle.

Positive Questions and Interview Guides Detail
JaCkie StavroS (2014)

This article is remarkable as it introduces Appreciative Inquiry to kindergarten students. It’s an interesting way to engage the students at start of their schooling
journey. By knowing and using appreciative questions, kindergarten and first grade students get involved in locating possibilities at every level of interaction.
The article provides questions that can be used by consultants and teachers to initiate appreciative conversations. What makes this article thought provoking is
its ability to challenge the preconceived notion of interacting with kindergarten students, at the same time propelling conversations that have the potential to
design and create a future of choice.

Resources on Coaching for Transcendence

The November 2016 issue of AI Practitioner focuses on transcendence and coaching.

The guest editors and Resources column editors of the November 2016 issue of AI Practitioner have brought together resources relating to transcendence and coaching. Some are new, some are rediscoveries of materials relevant to the topic. We hope that these resources will be useful to practitioners, researchers and leaders.

Books and Book Chapters

Positive Psychology : Theory, Research and Applications




ISBN-9780335241958/ 978033524196

This book provides a broad coverage of the most relevant theories and constructs developed within Positive Psychology, and of their relevance for intervention and application in the most diverse life domains. Hefferon and Boniwell use a rigorous though accessible and friendly style of presentation.

An Integrated Framework for Assessing, Coaching and Developing Global Leaders





DOI: 10.1108/S1535-1203

ISBN 978-1-84855-256-2

Developing global leaders is one of the most pressing needs for global companies. We present a framework for a more integrated talent management development program. The framework is based on several key principles and includes the use of assessment tools, 70-20-10 development tactics, external coaching, and an emphasis on critical experiences. We focus specifically on key considerations for implementing this type of a framework and the keys to success.

The Virtues of Leadership – Contemporary Challenges for Global Managers




ISBN 9780199677375

This book provides a broad coverage of the most relevant theories and constructs developed within Positive Psychology, and of their relevance for intervention and application in the most diverse life domains. Hefferon and Boniwell use a rigorous though accessible and friendly style of presentation.

Articles and Papers

Physician Burnout: Coaching a Way Out




DOI: HTTP://DX.DOI.ORG/10.1007/S11606-014-3144-Y

This paper demonstrates how coaching enhances self-awareness by drawing on individual strengths, questioning self-defeating thoughts and beliefs, examining new perspectives, and aligning personal values with professional duties. It further demonstrates how coaching utilises established techniques to increase one’s sense of accomplishment, purpose, and engagement, all critical in ameliorating burnout. Although an evidence base is not yet established, the theoretical basis of coaching’s efficacy derives from the fields of positive psychology, mindfulness, and self-determination theory. Using a case example, this article demonstrates the potential of professional coaching to address physician burnout.

Polarities in Executive Coaching




DOI: HTTP://DX.DOI.ORG/10.1108/02621711111105795

The core of this paper is the polarity-coaching model, which describes how coaches can guide their clients through a process of discovering polarised thinking, pole exploration, and boundary softening for becoming more comfortable with interdependent opposites. The study explores what is required from the coach and the coaching relationship and how clients can be supported in overcoming polarity traps. A social constructionist and sense-making approach to coaching is followed. A coach who is able to hold interdependent opposites with ease in the coaching encounter will allow clients to experience transformation on a deeper level. The paper will be of interest to those in the field of coaching.

Coaching with Simplicity: Thoreau and Sport



PHYSICAL EDUCATOR, 61(3), 157–168

DOI: HTTP://DX.DOI.ORG/10.1108/02621711111105795

This paper focuses on removing unnecessary obstacles to attain a higher life, one of crystallization and transcendence and presents a number of themes that would facilitate the movement towards simplicity. These conditions include freedom of choice, self-discipline, continual attention, reflection, and the use of exemplars. When these conditions are met, coaches may rid themselves of common coaching complexities – the quest for more, responsibilities, and distractions. By doing so they may move towards and experience simplicity in their coaching.

Creating a Ba for Generating Self-transcending Knowledge




DOI: HTTP://DX.DOI.ORG/10.1108/13673271011084943

The paper reviews the literature in the field of self-transcending knowledge and the concept of ba and shows the main aspects for the design of a new methodology and framework. Additionally it analyses experiences with the new method from several case studies. It represents one of the few studies, which theoretically and practically deals with the aspect of self-transcending knowledge in the context of vision development processes and knowledge-based management on the individual level as well as on the collective level.

Patients’ Coaching Behaviours, Transference Testing and the Corrective Emotional Experience: Transcending the Self in Psychotherapy




DOI: HTTP://DX.DOI.ORG/10.1177/008124630403400105

This article is broadly based within a psychodynamic approach to psychotherapy, drawing on object relations theories and, more specifically, on an object relations model outlined by Frank Summers, namely, relational psychoanalysis. The article explores the notion that because attachment to the object is central to the development of a sense of identity and belonging, individuals will seek to preserve the relationship at the expense of the development of their authentic self. In this way, those aspects of themselves that they perceive to be unacceptable to others and thus often to themselves, will be buried in order to maintain the relationship. However, the therapeutic relationship is potentially one in which such problematic patterns of relating may be resolved rather than re-enacted.

Intuition, Prayer, and Managerial Decision-making Processes: A Religion-based Framework




DOI: HTTP://DX.DOI.ORG/10.1108/00251740910966668

This paper proposes that the best solution tends to embrace a complementary or integrated decision-making approach. It finds strong evidence that a religion-based framework might enrich the sensitive topic of decision-making processes in organisations. Overall, the paper strives to show that intuition and prayer are two faces of the same coin, and argues that both forms of decision processes (e.g. rational and non-rational analysis) might coexist perfectly in an integrative frame.

Blogs, Videos and Films

About Transcendence




This website claims to guide people to self-realisation and transform human consciousness. The website provides testimonials to substantiate their work. There are additional resources such as articles, posts, a store and services on this website. Note: Transcendence as a subject is highly personal and the mention of this website should not be treated as any form of promotion from the AI Resources column.

Success Calibration System




Barbour claims to provide programs for life and business coaching and training. The intent of this program is to create a progressive process for upgrading in dimensions – cognitive, physical, emotional, and spiritual – for an optimal shift to consistently achieve desired results and fulfillment. The website is a resource for blogs, services, and some FAQs that readers may want to explore for individual or organisational purposes.

Transcendental Coaching 



This website attempts to engage the readers with options such as coaching, workshops, meditation, blogs and testimonials premised on transcendence. Cary claims certification from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to teach transcendence meditation. The website presents its viewers a “one-stop shop” for inquiry into transcendence

Coaching Toward Transcendence



It is no longer enough to simply be concerned about maintaining the business machine. Organisational leaders must be motivators, connecting employees to a greater purpose. It becomes the responsibility of the executive coach, whether for individuals, teams, or boards to lead in the discovery of an emerging purpose.

Evolving Consciousness in Coaching & Changework



This video is for hypnotists, hypnotherapists, NLP practitioners and coaches who are interested in doing deeper, more developmentally orientated work with their clients.

Resources on Appreciative Leadership

Roopa Nandi, Hardik Shah, Dan Saint and Joep de Jong made a selection of research papers and books on the topic Appreciative Leadership. Read all their suggestion here

The research papers are introduced below:

Appreciative inquiry and leadership transitions

Research Paper

Authors: Maureen R Keefe, PhD, RN, ,  (FAAN), Daniel Pesut, PhD, RN, APRN, BC (FAAN)

In times of accelerated change accompanied by leadership transitions, Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and sensemaking skills are necessary. AI is a philosophy, a model of change, and a set of tools and techniques that support discovery, dreaming, design, and creation of a vision that inspires people in an organization to move toward a collective destiny. Sensemaking involves sizing up a situation to create a framework for decision-making, creating a context for communication, linking with others, and focusing on what is and what could be. Sensemaking can be facilitated by applying appreciative leadership techniques. In this article, the story of the University of Utah College of Nursing’s and the faculty’s experience with an AI process illustrates the application of the AI leadership strategy to navigating organizational change and a leadership transition.

Journal of Professional Nursing Volume 20, Issue 2, March–April 2004, Pages 103–109

Dialogue on leadership development


Authors: C. Manohar Reddy*, Vasanthi Srinivasan

Sharing our considerable experience as teachers who have designed and conducted leadership development programmes, we discuss the challenges in the field of leadership development. We distinguish between leader development and leadership development; differentiate leadership theories from leadership development theories; discuss the goals of leadership development programmes and their implications for the design of such programmes e the knowing, being and doing gap and how the goal, cognitive understanding vs. deeper internalization vs. transformation would impact the design; the need to synthesize Western and Indian approaches to leadership development; and the importance of designing coherent leadership development programmes which combine multiple methods and approaches. ScienceDirect journal homepage: Production and hosting by Elsevier IIMB Management Review (2015) 27, 44e55

Leadership & Organization Development Journal Seeking and measuring the essential behaviors of servant leadership

Research Paper

Bruce Winston

The purpose of this paper was to clarify the nature of how servant leadership is established and transmitted among members of an organization. The second goal was to identify and evaluate the unique actions by a leader essential to establishing servant leadership. The authors’ efforts resulted in identification and validation of ten leader behaviors that seem to be essential to servant leadership. The findings  concluded that the ten-item scale accounts for 75 percent of the variance with a scale reliability α ¼ 0.96. Convergent validity was determined through comparison to Liden et al. (2008) measure of servant leadership. Discriminant validity was established through confirmatory analysis of leader effectiveness, transformational leadership’s four dimensions, a measure of transactional leadership, and an alternative multi-dimensional measure of servant leadership.

Bruce Winston Dail Fields , (2015),”Seeking and measuring the essential behaviors of servant leadership”, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 36 (4) pp. 413 – 434 Permanent link to this document:

“Appreciative Leadership: Focus on What Works to Build a Thriving Organization”.


Diana Whitney

Diana Whitney defines leadership as a powerful relational process and offers five strategies for extraordinary performance in this new video from her presentation to NC SmartStart entitled “Appreciative Leadership: Focus on What Works to Build a Thriving Organization.” because people have continually wanted to talk to me about overcoming adversity. She has going to make an admission that this phrase never sat right with her,  and she always felt uneasy trying to answer people’s questions about it, and she think she started figure out why.”

Distinguishing between transformational and servant leadership

Research paper

Jeanine ParoliniKathleen PattersonBruce Winston

Although transformational and servant leadership has been in existence since the 1970s and theoretical assumptions about the differences began in the 1990s, this paper seeks to relate the first empirical investigation distinguishing between the two leaders, which was conducted recently by the first author.

– Through a review of the literature, the first author established 19 semantic differential scales and two self‐typing paragraphs to differentiate between the two leaders. The scales and paragraphs were formed into an online survey, reviewed by an expert panel, and distributed to 56 randomly selected contacts where 514 participants responded.  Through discriminant analysis, five statistically significant (p=0.000) discriminant items were found that differentiated between transformational and servant leadership.

Jeanine ParoliniKathleen PattersonBruce Winston, (2009) “Distinguishing between transformational and servant leadership”, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 30 (3) pp.274 – 291DOI

Bridge leadership: a case study of leadership in a bridging organization”,

Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 32 Iss: 7, pp.715 – 735


Ronald S. McMullenHenry Adobor, (2011) ”


– The purpose of this research is to examine leadership in an intermediary organization whose mission is to facilitate collaboration between large corporations and their smaller suppliers, a bridging organization. A qualitative approach using a single case revelatory method was adopted. Data were collected from a bridgeleader as well as 20 executives of companies involved in the collaboration.

The analysis revealed that the successful bridge leader tended: to build personal relations and goodwill as a way of creating personal obligations on the part of the stakeholders he led; championed the cause of the stakeholders and made their mission his/her own; created opportunities for individual and collective goal achievement; relied on symbolic behavior and ceremonies to reify the bridge mission; and engaged in frequent communication with a liberal use of humor and playfulness to make goals embraceable by the stakeholders in the collaboration.


Toward a theory of spiritual leadership

Research Paper

Louis W. Fry*

A causal theory of spiritual leadership is developed within an intrinsic motivation model that incorporates vision, hope/faith, and altruistic love, theories of workplace spirituality, and spiritual survival. The purpose of spiritual leadership is to create vision and value congruence across the strategic, empowered team, and individual levels and, ultimately, to foster higher levels of organizational commitment and productivity. The author’s first examine leadership as motivation to change and review motivation-based leadership theories. Second, author notes the accelerating call for spirituality in the workplace, describe the universal human need for spiritual survival through calling and membership, and distinguish between religion and spirituality. Next, he introduce a generic definition of God as a higher power with a continuum upon which humanistic, theistic, and pantheistic definitions of God can be placed. He  also review religious and ethics-and-values-based leadership theories and conclude that, to motivate followers, leaders must get in touch with their core values and communicate them to followers through vision and personal actions to create a sense of spiritual survival through calling and membership.

1048-9843/$ – see front matter D 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2003.09.001

and more books…

see more suggestions here 

Most important books on Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry Resources features a rediscovery of classic and new resources for your use. Here we are sharing resources that span the young history of Appreciative Inquiry.

Starting with one of Ken Gergen’s influential resources from 1982, we decided to look for resources that show the development of Appreciative Inquiry in (roughly) five-year periods of time. If you are new to exploring these Appreciative Inquiry resources, we hope you enjoy seeing the progression of AI throughout these years. For those of you who are revisiting these resources and the development of AI, we hope that you enjoy revisiting the evolving story of AI and these resources as much as we have.


Toward Transformation in Social Knowledge, Ken Gergen (1982), ISBN: 978-1-4612-5708-0

1 Gergen

Ken Gergen’s ideas in this book were influential in the development of Appreciative Inquiry. The discussion on generative theory is embedded into the core of AI philosophical discussions as well as AI methods. Ken Gergen published a second edition to this text in 1994.


Appreciative Inquiry in Organizational Life, David Cooperrider & Suresh Srivastva (1987). In Research in Organizational Change and development, Vol. 1 (129–169),

2 Cooperrider

This chapter summarizes well many of the early ideas of AI. Much like David Cooperrider’s doctoral dissertation, this chapter is a call for action research to reach its potential as a tool for fostering social innovation and to advance theory and practice.


A Chicago Case Study in Intergenerational Appreciative Inquiry, Bliss Browne (1995),

Imagine Chicago was created in 1992. This article by Bliss Browne is an early writing about the use of AI by Imagine Chicago to foster intergenerational civic engagement and community development.


Lessons from the Field, Sue Hammond and Cathy Royal (1998)

4 lessons

This is one of the first published books that focused on practitioner stories about AI. The book is divided into five sections, including case studies, community application and application of theory, as well as other resources. Sue and Cathy also published a revised version of this text in 2001.


To further contribute this sharing of stories by practitioners, Anne Radford published the first electronic AI Newsletter in 1998, leading to the development of the AI Practitioner.


In the years around 2002, there were three cases of Appreciative Inquiry that demonstrate how AI had broadened its application into multiple sectors by this time. These sectors were the military, education, and global politics and corporate citizenship. The following are three resources that tell the story of three events from these three sectors.

US Navy Leadership Summit (2002),

Many of the documents and resources related to the US Navy Leadership. Summit and its AI design are still available on the AI Commons.

Leap of Faith: ReDiscovering the Wonder-Full World of Education (2003)

This summary PowerPoint presentation tells the story of this wonderful gathering of people focused on AI and education.

UN Global Compact (2004)

This page in the AI Commons provides commentary and resources related to the UN Global Compact gathering in 2004, where the Appreciative Inquiry approach was used with about 500 participants.


Just like a series of events around 2002 showcase the development of Appreciative Inquiry, a series of publications about five years later reveal how the roots of AI were spreading into different fields. In 2005, Jackie Kelm published her first book on Appreciative Living. In 2008, Dawn Cooperrider Dole, Jen Hetzel Silbert, Ada Jo Mann and Diana Whitney shared their ideas about using Appreciative Inquiry to help families thrive. Then, in 2009, Jackie Starvros, Gina Hinrichs and Sue Hammond published a book about SOAR.

At this point in time, the practice of AI had clearly grown in many different directions.

Appreciative Living: The Principles of Appreciative Inquiry in Personal Life, Jackie Kelm (2005), ISBN: 978-0977216109

8 kelm

Positive Family Dynamics, Dawn Cooperrider Dole, Jen Hetzel Silbert, Ada Jo Mann, Diana Whitney (2008), ISBN: 978-0971231290

9 family

The Thin Book of SOAR: Building Strengths-based Strategy, Jackie Starvros, Gina Hinrichs, and Sue Hammond (2009), ISBN: 978-0982206805

10 Soar


A Contemporary Commentary on Appreciative Inquiry in Organizational Life, David Cooperrider (2013), ISBN: 978-1848554887, doi: 10.1108/S1475-9152(2013)0000004001

11 advances

In the fourth edition of Advances in Appreciative Inquiry, David shared his latest ideas about Appreciative Inquiry in organizational life. It is most interesting to pair this chapter with a revisit to the Cooperrider & Srivastva article of 1987 shared above to get another sense of the development of AI through these years.


An Invitation to Social Construction (3rd Edition), Ken Gergen (2015), ISBN: 978-1412923019

12 Gergen

It seems fitting that the most recent resource we share is connected to a resource that is so much a part of the foundation of Appreciative Inquiry. Ken Gergen’s latest edition of this book on social construction is written especially for readers who are new to the idea of social construction.

These Resources are gathered by Roopa Nandi, Matthew Moehle, Hardik Shah

aip-feb-16-ai-promises-and-future-resources are also downloadable as pdf. With more interesting papers and blogs.


Appreciative Inquiry Resources on Sports

Articles and Papers

The Usefulness of Appreciative Inquiry as a Method to Identify Mass Sports Program Success


This paper considers Appreciative Inquiry as an approach to evaluate the effectiveness of sport service providers who offer mass sports programs. The need for this study is premised on the understanding that there is a relationship between physical activity and good health. With an eye on the intended outcome, it is essential to evaluate mass sports programs that engage people at large. Appreciative Inquiry facilitates understanding and addressing the gap in evaluating the services offered by these programs. Using a strengths-based mechanism, AI focuses on identifying what works best in a culturally sensitive environment, and what draws on lessons from successful mass sports program for future implementation.

Looking Beyond What’s Broken: Towards an Appreciative Research Agenda for Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy


This paper makes an attempt to use Appreciative Inquiry to conceptualise, change and imagine the pedagogy for sport and physical education. Scholars in the field of physical education realise the absence of effectiveness in the pedagogy of physical education and the need to make it effective. An explicit philosophical move towards a strengths-based approach emphasises questions such as “What keeps me healthy and active?” rather than “What risks, diseases and behaviors should I learn to avoid?” Though this paper explicitly suggests looking at possibilities, at the same time encourages keeping an eye on deficit stories as well. It proposes keeping an overall view of what exists and following a strengths-based approach.

An Appreciative Inquiry Exploring Game Sense Teaching in Physical Education

SHANE PILL (2014) SPORT, EDUCATION AND SOCIETY, 21(2)  DOI:HTTP://DX.DOI.ORG/10.1080/13573322.2016.1160373

This report of research shares a strengths-based appreciative inquiry into the use of a game sense approach for sport and games teaching in physical education. The stories that were part of this research reveal elements “giving life” to the PE teachers’ practice. It is a very interesting report about the use of appreciative inquiry in the context of research, education, and sport.

Changing Lives Through Sport: The Story of the Positive Mental Attitude Sports Foundation Trust


The Positive Mental Attitude Sports Foundation Trust (PMASFT) is a community interest company that uses sport as a therapeutic tool to support the recovery and social inclusion of people living with enduring mental health issues. The PMASFT seeks to engage participants in meaningful activity, build their confidence, support the development of life skills and healthy living, improve physical health and promote education, training and employment opportunities. Through their work the PMASFT develops a sustainable working partnership with health and social care organisations, local authorities and other community services. This paper describes how the PMASFT came into being and highlights some of its achievements.


Flourishing for Sports: Well-Being of a Sportsman from Perspectives of Positive Psychology

CRYSTAL WU (2014) ISBN: 978-1482826043

This book is about flourishing of life in the field of sports. It contains the latest concepts about psychological well-being, from the perspectives of positive psychology. We expect sports fan or just pursuers of happiness and a quality life will find this book enjoyable and get ideas for pursing a flourishing life.

Leisure and Positive Psychology: Linking Activities with Positiveness

ROBERT STEBBINS (2015) ISBN: 978-1137569936

This book explores, from a leisure studies perspective, the central role that leisure has to play in positive psychology, exploring themes such as flow, fulfilment, altruism, well-being, and interpersonal relationships.

Websites & Multimedia

Advising the College Student Athlete: Issues and Strengths


Matthew Kelly shares an article online about academic advising for college students who participate in athletics, with a special emphasis on students who are often labeled as “at-risk”.

The Opportunity of Adversity


In this TED Talk, Aimee shares her own example of how adults in positions of power can ignite the power of a child. She describes her life experiences and how “our language isn’t allowing us to evolve into the reality that we would all want, the possibility of an individual to see themselves as capable.” She further shares that “The human ability to adapt, it’s an interesting thing, because people have continually wanted to talk to me about overcoming adversity, and I’m going to make an admission: This phrase never sat right with me, and I always felt uneasy trying to answer people’s questions about it, and I think I’m starting to figure out why.”

Exploring Advising Models for Effective Student Athlete Advisement



This paper focuses on the significance of effective advising in sports education. Citing the advantages of advising students in sports, the authors examine various academic advising models. The appreciative model for academic advising discussed here, is based on Appreciative Inquiry that allow students to make connections between their current academic experience and their future career aspirations. The authors assert that appreciative advising optimises advisor interactions with students in both individual and group settings.

Using Coaching to Unlock Creativity


This article emphasizes on using coaching with an appreciative lens to release creativity. Appreciative Inquiry is viewed as a focused approach to unleash creativity due to its capability to generate powerful conversations in the process. Compared to a negative or degenerative environment, the presence of a positive environment facilitates generation of creative thought, which is further enhanced by appreciative inquiry. This article intends to give directions in coaching that can be used in various circumstances including sports. This article presents a brief discussion on ‘poetry in motion’, which many enthusiasts can apply in any chosen field.

Back to top