SECTION 1: GETTING STARTED
About the Facilitators Guide
The Facilitators Guide was written to help you bring Appreciative Inquiry into your
neighborhood, family, organization, workplace or any other setting where people
care about having better organizational success. By conducting an Appreciative
Inquiry, you will be participating in a national effort to help people define what
organizational strength is and how to make vision clear to them. This includes:
perceptions about what is possible for us to do about our organizations,
ways in which appreciative inquiry is practiced.
This Guide is meant to provide you with the tools and resources you will need to
conduct an Appreciative Inquiry Workshop. It provides you with detailed
instructions for organizing, setting up and facilitating an Appreciative Inquiry
Workshop. It provides you with a sample agenda, overheads (or slides,)
participant handouts and forms.
Purpose of the Appreciative Inquiry Workshop
Appreciative Inquiry is intended to inspire people to think constructively about
their own organization.
In an Appreciative Inquiry, each person takes a turn
telling and hearing stories about his or her experiences of an exceptional
sharing positive examples of taking charge of one’s own organization
From these stories, participants will uncover new possibilities for acting on behalf
of their own organization; making decisions about their own workplace; and
improving the organization.
The Appreciative Inquiry Workshop is based on Appreciative Inquiry, which is a
strategy for purposeful change that identifies the best of “what is” to pursue
dreams and possibilities of “what could be.” It is a cooperative search for the
strengths, passions and life-giving forces that are found within every system—
those factors that hold the potential for inspired, positive change.
The Appreciative Inquiry Process has five steps:
1. Define (Define the issue)
2. Discovery (The best of what is)
3. Dream (What might be)
4. Design (How to bring it into being)
5. Deliver (How to empower, learn and adjust)
The Appreciative Inquiry Workshops focus on the Discovery Process—and move
into the Dream Phase. They are intended to help people explore the nature and
sources of success and strength in their own lives so they can devote more attention
to what makes them successful and have more power to shape the goals they
receive around their own goals and values. As the dialogue spreads and personal
stories are exchanged, a growing sense of what success should be will emerge, with
individuals committing to action that enhances personal and organizational success.
But the Dialogues and personal stories are only the first step in the journey. It is
important that the values and experiences we uncover as a result of these
dialogues will be incorporated into a definition of organizational success that will
influence the way that individuals, departments, organizations, communities, and
more can perceive.
Organizing an Appreciative Inquiry
Advance Planning Steps
1. Decide whom you would like to involve.
People at a workplace, community center, religious organization,
homeless shelter, etc.
Children, youth, elders, parents, caregivers, etc.
Faculty, staff, students, or parents
2. Choose what format to use.
Separate Appreciative Inquiry Workshop
Appreciative Inquiry Workshop incorporated into other existing meeting
3. Determine the number of people you will invite.
We recommend at least 16 people. Groups of 24-30 are generally a
good size. However, if you have more that one person to help facilitate,
this Workshop format can accommodate larger groups of people.
4. Arrange a place and time and send out invitations.
Make sure it’s a quiet place with comfortable chairs and good privacy
The place should be large enough to accommodate all people
comfortably. You will want to move the chairs around to accommodate
work in pairs, in small groups and the entire group working together.
Choose a time when people won’t be too tired
Send out invitations. (See sample invitation)
Personal contact with the people you’re inviting makes a big difference!
5. Supplies and materials.
You will need one flip chart for each of the small groups. Include
several marking pens for each group.
If available, an LCD projector and laptop computer for showing slides.
This information can be shown on Overheads, using an overhead
projector. If you do not have any equipment, you can create flip charts
of some of the materials in advance.
Use the materials available in the Templates and Forms Section.
There is also a Participants Workbook Section. This information can be
copied as is or customized. If you cannot create your own handouts
from this material.
If you are doing the Optional Drawing Exercise, we recommend that
you have tables for each of the Small Groups (generally eight people).
Groups can do all their work around the tables.
Preparing for the Facilitator and Recorder Role
For a group of 16-30 people you will need one facilitator and one recorder.
The facilitator is responsible for the overall functioning of the Dialogue and the
general well-being of the group. The facilitator is normally not a participant.
He/she should be free to circulate through the room during the paired
Facilitators should be able to perform these functions:
Help people understand what the Appreciative Inquiry Workshop is all
Help people learn the basics of Appreciative Inquiry – especially what
their roles are as interviewer and storyteller.
Help everyone stay on time through each part of the program.
Make sure all sections of the agenda are completed.
Arrange for the meeting room and supplies.
Assess participants’ needs and make adjustments as required.
Ensure that relevant information is captured and returned to your
organization. Information includes:
o Interviewer Forms—signed by the person who was interviewed
if they would like their stories included in your personal
o Appreciative Inquiry Questions, Small Group Templates
o Appreciative Inquiry Theme Charts
o Provocative Proposition Templates
o Provocative Proposition Powerful Pattern Chart
o Debrief Chart
o Participant Evaluation Forms
o Facilitator Evaluation Form—along with new ideas that you
tried, or translations of the Appreciative Inquiry materials into
Ensure that Relevant Information is captured and returned to the
o Draw all relevant Templates. Ensure that each small group has
one full set.
o Record Large Group Debriefs for Questions 1-3.
o Record Powerful Patterns for Provocative Propositions.
o Record Action Now Chart.
o Take notes about participant reactions to the process; suggestions
for improvement, etc.
o Capture memorable quotes.
o Capture highlights of memorable stories.
Facilitator/ Recorder Checklist
One Month Prior to Workshop
Follow-up Invitations with personal call
One Week Prior to Workshop
Follow-up to Participants who have not responded
Invite others if necessary/appropriate
Reproduce Participant Workbooks & Handouts for all Participants
Make Flip Charts from Templates. Have one set for each small group
Recommended—Refreshments, available at break. If workshop is in the morning,
coffee and muffins, etc.
Supplies & Equipment
Overhead or LCD Projector. If using overhead projector, have blank transparencies.
If using LCD projector, test with your computer.
Flip Charts & Paper (1 For each small group + 1 for Facilitator)
Flip Chart Markers—at least 2 colors for each group. Note—if you are doing optional
drawing exercise, have at least 4 colors available
Masking tape (for taping flip chart paper to wall)
Optional—Video camera. You may wish to videotape group portions.
Optional—Tape recorder (1 for each small group). This is especially useful if
participants will have a hard time taking notes.
Note--If you video or audiotape, you should have a separate consent form that participants
Annotated Sample Agenda
Appreciative Inquiry – Group Conversation on Organizational
To inspire people to think and act constructively about their organization
Uncover stories about experiences of exceptional organizations
Share positive examples of taking charge of one’s own organization
Identify opportunities to empower people and communities to pursue dreams of
“what could be”
Share themes with others to create a “public voice” about the possibilities high
o Introduce yourself and why you brought people together
Purpose of the Appreciative Inquiry Workshop
o Use slides in materials section
Participants introduce themselves and tell why they are
Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry
o Use slides
Guidelines for Conducting an Appreciative Inquiry
o Use slides
8:15 Paired Conversations
Individual review of questions
o Break group into pairs—preferably paired with someone they
o If uneven number, there can be one group of three
o Remind them that interviews are confidential—nothing said
in the room should leave the room
o Facilitator models incorrect and correct way to interview
Pairs work through Question 1
o One member interviews the other. Switch roles
o They should write down notes for each question on
o If individual consents, your organization can use their story
in their materials (without their name—only city and state
identifier.) If they would like their story to be used, sign the
interviewer’s form. The interviewee can make notes on the
form as well, for clarification
Small Group Debrief of Question 1
o Interviewer highlights partner’s story.
o Recorder takes notes.
Large Group Debrief of Question 1
o Facilitator asks for 1- 2 inspiring stories from each small
group (this may take some gentle prodding)
o Record highlights on flip chart
Return to Pairs for Questions 2 & 3
9:45 Summarization of Stories & Identification of Themes
Return to Small Groups
Summarization of Questions 2&3 by partner
o Each person summarizes partner’s stories (2-3 min per
o Group members can ask questions of clarification
Identification of themes
o Select scribe for each group. Scribe should write down
Optional –Draw picture of how themes connect
Debrief Large Group
10:45 Provocative Propositions
Small Group Work
o Brainstorm responses to Provocative Propositions 1&2
technique. Move quickly through each question. Record
responses on template
o Identify the 2-3 most important things people can do to
take charge of their own success. Identify 2-3 related
o Identify the 2-3 most important things that would be
different if we lived in a successful organization.. Identify
2-3 related action steps
Large Group Debrief
o Small groups report priorities for Questions 1&2, along
with Action Steps
o Identify Powerful Patterns presented in small group
What Can We Do Now?
o Ask the group to fill out the What Can We Do Now? form in
the Storyteller’s Workbook. Three are two parts; one is for
themselves, the second is for their community. They
should use this sheet as a reminder to themselves.
o Brainstorm with large group about What Can We Do
Now? Facilitator draws two Circles for recording-- one
inside the other. The inner circle is for self, the outer is
Next Steps for Group
Facilitator/Organizer comments about what’s next for the
o How they as a group will use materials; other planned
o Ask them to sign the Interviewer Form of the person that
interviewed them, if they want their stories included. They
can add their own comments.
o Collect all forms for retur.
Individual evaluation forms to be completed and collected
Basic Principles to Guide Every Appreciative Inquiry
There are four basic principles that will assist you in conducting successful
conversations about organizational success.
1. Invite personal stories about positive or successful organizational
2. Create an environment that fosters intimate conversation. We suggest using
chairs that can be easily moved. Create small groups, then pairs and finally a
3. Ask participants to keep to the focus of each question. Encourage them to
listen intently and help their partners bring out as much of themselves as they
can. To do this, it is important that they refrain from adding their own
comments, ideas or stories. Remember, this is an interview, not a
4. Change the wording of the questions and other written materials, as needed,
to make them appropriate for the individuals and/or communities with whom a
conversation on organizational success is initiated. Translation of materials to
other languages is welcome.
SECTION 2: FACILITATING THE APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY
Materials available for facilitating the 4 hour workshop are available in Section 4: Templates and
Forms. If available, use an LCD projector to show the slides. If not, use an overhead projector, or
create flip charts.
Welcome (15 minutes)
1. The facilitator (or organizer) should welcome the Slide
participants and introduce themselves.
Introductory remarks should include:
Why we are here today
Why each of you were invited
Appreciation for participants’ gift of time and themselves.
2. Purpose of the Workshop Slide
3. Introduction of participants to one another. Each should
tell why they decided to come.
4. Explanation of the workshop Slides
Include that it is based on Appreciative Inquiry
5. Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry Slides
6. Introduction to your organization Slide
7. Why are we working with Appreciative Inquiry Slides
8. Guidelines for Conducting the Paired Conversations Slides
9. Confidentiality. Instruct participants that everything said in the room is
confidential and should not leave the room. While our purpose is to develop a
series of living stories and community voice, Our organization will not use any of
their individual stories unless given explicit permission. We will not be using
individual names. The only identifiers will be demographic, ie: city, age, etc.
Paired Conversations (1 hour 25 minutes)
This is the Discovery phase of Appreciative Inquiry and the basis for all the other phases.
Organize participants for the conversations.
First, organize into Small Groups of 8. Within these groups of 8, participants
should be paired with someone else. It is highly preferable that people partner
with someone they do not know well. If there are an odd number of people, the
facilitator can work with that person or there can be one group of three. Ask
participants to move their chairs so they can comfortably speak with their partner.
Modeling Exercise (5 minutes)
This type of conversation will be new to most of your participants. It is
advantageous to begin by modeling an inappropriate interview and an
Select a partner for the first question and begin the modeling exercise by
reading the affirmation at the top of the page.
Next ask your partner Question 1. To model an inappropriate interview,
as your partner answers, begin to agree with what he or she said. Relate
a similar experience of your own.
To model an appropriate interview, start the interview again. This time,
use prompts, such as those given in the Questions, to dig deeper
Appreciative Inquiry Question 1 (15 minutes)
There are 3 – 5 questions in the Handouts or ones you created. One member of
the pair will begin by interviewing his/her partner on Question 1. They will switch
roles. Interviewing for Question 1 should take 3- 7 minutes each. Every
workshop will be different so you must determine the time.
Interviewer Note Form.
An Interviewer Note Form is included in each workbook. Partners should
exchange workbooks before beginning the interview process. The interviewer
should try to capture the highlights of the stories for each question. These note
forms will assist participants to relate highlights of their partner’s story in the
small groups. Please ask the person being interviewed to include demographic
information on the last page of the form. You should have extra copies of this
form in case people need to rewrite their notes.
Debriefing of Question 1 (20 minutes)
After both partners complete Question 1, return to Small Groups.
Ask someone to serve as a Recorder.
Participants spend one minute summarizing the most important points of
their partner’s story.
The Recorder should write these down on a flip chart. (See template)
Return to Large Group
Ask for 1-2 inspiring stories.
Have recorder write down the highlights on flip chart template.
Ask if there are questions.
Paired Conversations for Questions 2& 3 (30 minutes)
Return to pairs. Have one person interview his or her partner for
Questions 2&3. When the interview is complete, switch roles.
During this time, you should walk around and listen to the quality of the
conversations. You may gently coach someone, if they are not employing
Appreciative Inquiry techniques—asking them to focus on the positive, or
encourage an interviewer not to comment about the story.
You should remind people about the time. They should switch roles after
10 minutes. It is helpful if everyone completes all questions.
Debrief of Questions 2&3 (30 minutes)
Pairs return to their small groups
Pairs return to their smaller groups.
Participants spend a couple of minutes summarizing the most important
points of their partner’s stories.
The Recorder should write these down on a flip chart. (See template).
Large Group reconvenes
Ask for 1-2 inspiring stories for each question
Have Recorder write down the highlights on flip chart template
Theme Identification (30 minutes)
During this section of the workshop, the focus turns from discovery of stories to
discovery of themes. The idea now is to uncover themes that will give us clues
for the Dream Phase (what might be) and the Design Phase (what should be [or
how to bring it into being]).
A theme is an idea or concept about what is present in the stories that people
report at the time of greatest excitement and creativity. For example in many
stories you may hear that when the topic covered by the question is at its best,
people report “a feeling of success” or “clarity of purpose” or “fun and
excitement.” These phrases are themes.
Theme Identification in Small Groups
Use theme template for each question. Recorder should record.
Identify major themes present for each question.
Small groups can brainstorm ideas for themes. Ask them to identify any
theme(s) that was present for all participants.
Optional Exercise (This is particularly useful for youth, groups who are not very
literate and very diverse groups where some people may not feel comfortable
verbalizing their opinions)
Have participants draw a picture of how the stories, conditions and assets
fit together. This picture will be used in presentations for the Large Group
Debrief that follows.
You will probably need about 10 extra minutes to do this exercise. If
necessary, we suggest you shorten the debrief.
Large Group Debrief
Each small group takes 2-3 minutes to debrief the themes identified for each
Select a person(s) to present the themes.
Use flip charts for presentation.
Provocative Propositions & Action Steps (45 minutes)
Provocative propositions take us into the Dream Phase of Appreciative Inquiry.
They are statements developed by the Group that are meant to define the
dream--challenging us to go beyond the status quo.
The following are some of the characteristics of a Provocative Proposition
It should be affirmative and bold
It should be grounded, with examples based on reality
It should provide guidance for the future
In this exercise we are looking for important requirements and actions that would
help us form a Provocative Proposition Statement. Your organization intends to
review work done by all groups in this section of the workshop to actually create
some Provocative Propositions and recommended Action Steps. As follow-up,
you may want to reconvene this group, or a subset of this group, to translate the
work to Provocative Propositions and recommended Action Steps for your
Small Group Work
In small groups, respond to Provocative Propositions1&2.
Use a brainstorming technique. Go around the circle giving each
person a chance to contribute one idea, or they can pass. Keep
going around the circle until there are no new ideas. In this
way, move quickly through each question.
The Recorder should write down each response.
From the brainstormed list each group should identify the 4 or 5
most important things people would need to do a good job in
taking charge of their own success. Identify related Action
From the brainstormed list each group should identify 4 or 5
most important things that would be different if we lived in a
successful organization. Identify related action steps.
The Recorder should write down responses on templates.
Large Group Debrief
Small groups take 2 to 3 minutes to report Priorities for
Questions 1&2, along with Action Steps.
Use Flip Chart Templates to present reports.
Ask the Group to identify any striking patterns they find in
Priorities and Action Steps.
The Recorder should record all patterns identified.
Workshop Debrief (30 minutes)
If there is enough room, move everyone into a circle
What can we do now?
o Ask the group to fill out the form in the Storyteller’s
Workbook What Can We Do Now? There are two parts,
one is for themselves, the second is for their community.
They should use this sheet as a reminder to themselves.
o Brainstorm with large group about What Can We Do Now.
Facilitator draws two Circles for recording-- one inside the
other. The inner circle is for self, the outer is for community.
Ask the group for their most important action steps in each
Facilitator/Organizer comments about what’s next for the Group, ie:
how they as a group will use materials; plan activities; etc.
o Reminder about inclusion of stories in materials.
o Ask them to sign the Interviewer Form if they want their
stories included. They can add their own comments. The
only identifiers will be demographic information.
o Collect all forms for return.
Individual evaluation forms to be completed and collected
Appreciative Inquiry Suggested Questions
We believe that it is within the power of every individual to have a positive
effect on his or her life and success. Today we have a chance to learn from
each other’s spirit, strengths and inner knowledge by hearing each other’s
stories about organizational success.
1. Take a moment to think about what success means to you
Tell me the successful organizations means to you.
Tell me the story of when you felt particularly successful in an organization.
Why was it powerful?
What are the good things about you that helped make this a special time? Did
you learn anything new about yourself?
Who else was involved and how did they help?
Was there anything else that helped make this time special?
2. From time to time we all need appreciation. Can you tell me an experience
when you felt appreciated? It might have been through interaction with a
boss, co-worker, subordinate, or other.
Tell me the story of this wonderful person. What made it so special?
How did others help?
Was there anything else that helped make a difference?
2. Tell me the story about how you made an important decision about what to
do when your team or organization was not performing well. If you can’t
think of your own story, you can tell a story about someone you know .
How did you know what to do?
What was it about you, the team or organization did that enabled you
(them) to make these decisions?
Questions to stretch our imagination
1. Imagine an organization where everyone was highly successful.
What are the most important things people would need to take charge of
in their own personal, team, or organizational improvement?
What could you do now to be more in charge of your own success?
Who would you seek for help?
Is there anything the people you go to now for help could do differently so
you could take more charge of your own personal, team, or organizational
2. Your organizational success is affected by what happens in your
community of co-workers. Imagine that you live in a truly successful
What would be different from the way things are now?
What could you do right now?
What role do you see for yourself?
What steps could your organization take now to ensure a successful