What is an Appreciative Interview?

Inquiry is intervention“- David L Cooperrider

The Appreciative Interview has been described as ‘the heart of appreciative inquiry’. It is the key activity of the Discovery stage.

Appreciative Interviews are designed to collect rich qualitative information in the form of stories which carry a wealth of meaning, and sometimes a powerful emotional charge, rather than dry quantitative data consisting of figures and statistics.

The aim is to uncover the forces which give life to the organisation.

Why Appreciative Interviews?

  • Appreciative Interviews are based on an agreed “Affirmative Topic” so are implicitly positive
  • Appreciative Interviews gather new information about what is already working well and contributing to the success of a given topic
  • Appreciative Interviews raise people’s morale by valuing their own personal experiences and contributions, making them more open to change
  • Appreciative Interviews raise the sense of what is possible in anticipation of the Dream stage
  • As they tell their stories and associate into their own positive reference experiences, people are more likely to come up with fresh insights than if they are asked for abstract lists of principles.
  • You can actively engage large numbers of people at all levels of the organisation as Appreciative Interviewers, helping them to understand people in different roles and at different levels in the organisation better, and to internalise an appreciative mindset.

The key factor in Appreciative Interviews, I believe, is this: the assumptions and positive language built into  the questions influence both interviewee and interviewer towards a more positive state of mind.

See also:

What Appreciative Interviewers need to understand

A business-friendly Appreciative Interview format

What are Appreciative Interviews, and why use them?

2 thoughts on “What are Appreciative Interviews, and why use them?

  • AI is used in organisational development and as a management consultancy tool to identify and move towards, needed change. It has been applied in businesses, health care bodies, social non-profit organisations, educational institutions, and government operations.

  • Reading about Appreciative Interviews brought back memories of my time working in a vibrant organization. The emotional charge and meaningful stories shared during these interviews truly brought the company to life. It’s amazing how valuing personal experiences and contributions can uplift morale and open doors to positive change. Through engaging large numbers of people, an appreciative mindset was internalized, leading to fresh insights and endless possibilities.

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