A growing collection of free resources to learn about Appreciative Inquiry

This list is continually being added to, so be sure to check back occasionally.


Andy Smith talks about Appreciative Inquiry – short introductory videos.

Nice video intro to AI by Jon Townsin

Increasing Positivity & Energy at Work with Appreciative Inquiry – introductory article by Louis Alloro

How to Apply the Appreciative Inquiry Process (Incl. 5 Tips) – article by Juliette Tocino-Smith. An introduction to Appreciative Inquiry with a useful reference list at the end that links to further resources.

The Essentials Of Appreciative Inquiry: A Roadmap For Creating Positive Futures by Bernard J Mohr and Jane Magruder Watkins. Free download (note: it was placed on academia.edu by one of the authors so I’m assuming it’s OK to share it)


Principles Of Appreciative Inquiry – quick guides to the 5 original principles of Appreciative Inquiry and the three ‘Emergent Principles’ that came along later

Jane Magruder Watkins on Appreciative Inquiry – short video interview with one of the leading figures in Appreciative Inquiry, capturing the spirit of AI in plain English.

A Deacon’s Musings on Appreciative Inquiry principles – a consideration of the various principles underpinning Appreciative Inquiry, in this case from a Christian viewpoint, from Richard Manley-Tannis.

How Language Shapes The Way We Think – TED talk by Lera Boroditsky (relevant to AI’s ‘Constructionist Principle’ – ‘words create worlds’)

The power of stories for social organisation – acclaimed author Yuval Noah Harari talks about the power of stories, the glue that holds social organisation together and enables human beings to cooperate in vast numbers to accomplish things.

Apart from anything else this is an accessible way to talk about ‘social facts’ and the Constructionist principle that underpins Appreciative Inquiry.

Why do things go right? Safety II – looking at why things work will get you further than analysing why they don’t work. In fact, the article shows that unless you look at what’s working, your analysis of the causes of problems may be completely mistaken.

Positive Image, Positive Action: The Affirmative Basis of Organizing – classic early article by David Cooperrider

Appreciative Interviews

Dip into whichever articles in the ‘Appreciative Interviews’ category of the Coaching Leaders blog appeal to you:

An alternative description of appreciative interviews here:

‘The Power of Appreciative Interviews’: appreciative interview guides (with examples) from the Center for Appreciative Inquiry

Applications Of Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Evaluations Format – using Appreciative Inquiry for review and evaluation (with a different format than the usual 4D or 5D model)

There’s also an episode of the Positivity Strategist Podcast, Approaching Educational Evaluation from a Relational Perspective

Communities of practice – a good interview with Luc Verheijen on the Inspiring Impacts podcast 

The intersection of Appreciative Inquiry and Lean – PDF document

Reflecting On The Topic Of Appreciative Leading – podcast episode with Robyn Stratton-Berkessel

Nine podcast transcriptions about Appreciative Inquiry by Joe Dager – interviews with some big names in AI from Joe’s ‘Business 901’ podcast.

Free ebook on appreciative leadership in the NHS – a free book which is a case study of appreciative leadership in the NHS (the UK’s publicly-funded healthcare service).

It’s an interesting source of ideas – for example, their explanation of the ‘Poetic Principle’ differs from those in most of the AI books I’ve seen (and from my previous understanding of it).

Also their description of the Design stage in the 4-D model seems to be an extension of the Dream stage, rather than what I would normally think of as Design (i.e. how can we change or reorganise things).

Some of the stories are thought provoking though, particularly Ian Harbison’s story about violence reduction (p.56).

The Learning From Excellence initiative in the NHSa rich trove of videos, evidence and learning from the Learning From Excellence initiative in the NHS, including a lot of stuff about Appreciative Inquiry

Reframing reality – appreciative ways to shift reality – a quick and practical article and podcast episode on reframing reality by Robyn Stratton-Berkessel

How To Solve ‘Intractable’ Problems – what to do when nothing else has worked

Accelerating Innovation with Appreciative Inquiry and Design Thinking – video talk by Jason MacKenzie

Using Appreciative Inquiry With Agile And For Software Development

Appreciative questions for agile team retrospectives
Appreciation Game for retrospectives
Appreciative Inquiry retrospectives
Exploring Win-Win Contracts: An Appreciative Inquiry into IT Project Management
Eliciting User Requirements with Appreciative Inquiry

Workshop Outlines

Case study of an Appreciative Inquiry workshop (PDF) undertaken by Andrew Roach with Georgia Futures Facilitators. Includes a step by step description of workshop activities, plus some interesting evaluation questions that act to bed in participants’ understanding and use of Appreciative Inquiry.

Appreciative Coaching

Sara Orem introduces Appreciative Coaching – an introductory video about concepts rather than tips and techniques – but even experienced Appreciative Inquiry practitioners can always learn from how other practitioners introduce and explain AI.

Improve Your Results With Appreciative Coaching – article by Andy Smith in International Coaching News Issue 23 p.33 (please excuse their rather cavalier approach to typesetting)


An Appreciative Inquiry Book List

Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement by Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres – very accessible book including ways to apply AI beyond the traditional 4D model

Book Review: The Thin Book of SOAR – the SOAR model is a strengths-based alternative to SWOT analysis. Here’s my review of a very accessible intro to it. (Note: there’s now a second edition of this book, retitled Learning to SOAR: Creating Strategy that Inspires Innovation and Engagement)

The Essentials Of Appreciative Inquiry – brief and readable introduction by Bernard Mohr and Jane Magruder Watkins. Can be downloaded as a free PDF (uploaded by the author as far as I can tell).

Free PDF ebook to download‘Locating The Energy For Change: An Introduction To Appreciative Inquiry’ by Charles Elliott

Free Appreciative Inquiry books to download from the Taos Institute

Resource Collections

The AI Commons – resources, case studies, tools, videos – massive resource devoted to the sharing of resources and practical tools on Appreciative Inquiry

A collection of Appreciative Inquiry tools, workshops and icebreakers – of varying quality, I think, so read them carefully


Positivity Strategist podcast with Robyn Stratton-Berkessel – interviews with thought leaders in Appreciative Inquiry that I’ve found very useful, both for a deeper understanding of the philosophy behind AI and for practical ‘how to’ tips

Inspiring Impacts podcast – more interviews with thought leaders in Appreciative Inquiry, from the Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry

Podcast interview with David Cooperrider: a new model for change – episode of the Making Positive Psychology Work podcast in which David Cooperrider outlines his new(ish) P.O.S.I.T.I.V.E. model for change.

Do Your Questions Spark Positive Change? – episode of the Making Positive Psychology Work podcast featuring a great interview with Ronald Fry, one of the early developers of Appreciative Inquiry and still a thought leader in the field.

Powerful Questions podcast with David Shaked

Research Evidence

The Neuroscience of Appreciative Inquiry (a *very* high-level overview, but with links to more in-depth research if you want to go deeper)

Evidence for efficacy of appreciative therapy – study reported in the BPS Research Digest

Why Your Brain Is Hardwired For Negativity, And What You Can Do About It – links to research about ‘negativity bias’, and some tips for overcoming it.

Positive Deviance: with downloadable toolkit! – Positive Deviance is a related approach to Appreciative Inquiry that looks for the positive exceptions already occurring in an organisation or community and looks to spread them more widely, involving the people themselves rather than outside ‘experts’.

It’s been widely used around the world for applications like improving community health, getting hospital doctors to wash their hands when they’ve been to the restroom, etc 🙂

This website includes a basic guide to getting started and tools that you can download.