Conference using Appreciative Inquiry

Outline Design




Briefly introduce the key ideas of Appreciative Enquiry. Learning from and releasing energy by paying attention to what works and gives life. Sharing and creating together our highest dreams for our shared future. Focusing on positive things.


Appreciative Interviewing


Run a short introductory exercise in “Appreciative Interviewing”. “Turn to your next door neighbour. Take three minutes to tell your story about a time in your life when you felt fully alive, energised and confident and knew you were making a difference”. Your neighbour, listens, encourages and joins in the celebration!” Then reverse roles. Go round the group and ask everyone for two or three words to describe how they feel now!




Outline the next part of the session and explain our focus on team working, learning and customer service. Brief people on appreciative interviewing. The schedule of questions is a guide not a straight jacket. It is quite OK for both to enjoy the process. Don’t worry if it is messy but keep your focus on what works, not problems! This is about telling your stories not collecting data.


Telling your stories


Pairs of people, selected at random (?) have 30 minutes each way to interview each other. The questions you might use follow.


Tell your story about team working.

  • Tell your story about your BEST experience of working with a group of people to achieve something? What was wonderful about it? What helped it go well? What did you do that helped it go well? How did you feel at the end? How did you celebrate? What good things are still happening as a result? What gems of learning did you take from that experience? How did it enrich your life and the lives of those around you? How would it be good for you if you had more of this quality of team work in your world?


Tell your story about learning from others

  • Tell your story about the BEST time you learned a great deal and developed yourself and your skills by working and being with other people? What was wonderful about it? What was good and satisfying about this experience? What did you that helped you learn well? What did others do that helped you learn so well? How did this experience enrich your life and the lives of others around you? How would it be good for you if you had more of this quality of learning in your world?


Tell your story about providing superb and exceptional service to your customers

  • Tell your story about the BEST time you went out of your way to provide superb service to one or more of your internal or external customers. What was remarkable about it? What did you do that was special? What was good and satisfying about that experience? What did the customer do that helped you deliver exceptional service? What did others do that helped you deliver this? How would it be good for you if you were able to provide service at this level more of the time?


  • Three wishes

If you had three wishes to make this department and the organisation an ideal organisation to you to work for, what would you use them for?


Identify Themes


Form groups of five, split pairs, spend 15 minutes identifying the key themes or things to think about that have arisen from the interviews. For example, a theme that could arise from all of the topics might be the value of excellent communication. List just a few of the themes on a chart and find out which ones have the support and interest of most of the people.


Generate “Provocative Propositions”


Form new groups about the most important themes. Ask each group to come up with “Provocative propositions” which are stretching statements, in the present tense about what you, or key stakeholders, will be saying about the department when you are living and working to your highest aspirations about each theme. For example, if a theme was excellent communication, a “provocative proposition” might be “We understand and listen to each other brilliantly and as a result work together so well that people from the rest of the organisation keep coming to see us to ask us for our “secret””.


Share provocative propositions between groups. Decide one step to take the momentum forward. Briefly share what we have all enjoyed, valued, learned from our work together.


If you have time and inclination, we could have a very short, slightly silly and light-hearted game to finish.


Later ….


The excellent Provocative Propositions the groups produced were: –


Team Working


‘Whatever’s on my mind, I can speak openly and freely knowing I am listened to and encouraged’


‘We have so much fun that people are queuing up to join us’


Learning From Others


‘We are so effective that our clients transform our business’


‘We are pivotal to the success of the firm’


‘Knowing me, knowing you – Aha!’


Customer Service


‘We meet, and exceed, our clients expectations each and every time’


‘The Training Team is recognised throughout the firm for the added value they provide to the business’


The next step will for the groups to plan how to achieve the above.

If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick