The appreciative inquiry process

Appreciative inquiry was first developed by David Cooperrider in the 1980s and is increasingly being used to develop practice in health and social care. It is based on the belief that in every system some things work well and if we spend time noticing these practices and understanding how we can support them to happen more of the time, transformational development can be realised.

appreciative inquiry – looking for the positives

Professor Belinda Dewar has adapted Cooperrider’s original model to make the language more meaningful to practitioners and to ensure that ways of co-creating and taking forward developments are explicit and clear.

In addition, she has developed a framework of Caring Conversations that underpins the use of the model. The adapted model of appreciative inquiry is shown below:

appreciative inquiry
Appreciative Inquiry starts with the positive:

  • Discover
    people work together to discover what is currently working well in the organisation/unit (this may relate to what is working well generally or to a specific topic, such as caring conversations).
  • Envision
    people learn what is working well and use this to help them to consider what practices they would like to see more of in the future.
  • Co-create
    people work together to plan how they could work towards achieving aspirations set out in the envision phase.
  • Embed
    people implement developments and consider what would need to happen to make this new way of working routine practice.

To see Professor Dewar talking about the approach of appreciative inquiry, watch this short video clip:



Appreciative inquiry can feel like a different way of working as often we are not used to focusing on the positive. Rather, changeusually starts with trying to fix a problem.  In appreciative inquiry negatives or problems are still heard. However they are explored collaboratively to consider developmental possibilities rather than dwelling on the problem.questionMark

Look at the resource called Appreciative Questions to help people to explore their actions to see some example questions.

To learn more about becoming an appreciative inquirer watch the following reflective account:

Read the next section:
What are caring conversations