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Appreciative Inquiry: Discovering and Building on the Root Causes of Success

What made success possible? In less than one hour, a group of any size can generate the list of conditions that are essential for its success. You can liberate spontaneous momentum and insights for positive change from within the organization as “hidden” success stories are revealed. Positive movement is sparked by the search for what works now and by uncovering the root causes that make success possible.

  1. Step 1:

    Describe an overview of the process and then specify a theme or what kind of story participants are expected to tell. 3 minutes

  2. Step 2:

    Structuring Invitation

    Ask, “Please tell a story about a time when you worked on a challenge with others and you are proud of what you accomplished. What is the story and what made the success possible? Pair up preferably with someone you don’t know well.”

    Facilitator notes

    Goal: Discovering and Building on the Root Causes of Success

  3. Step 3:

    In pairs, participants take turns conducting an interview and telling a success story, paying attention to what made the success possible. 7–10 minutes each; 15–20 minutes total

  4. Step 4:

    In groups of 4, each person retells the story of his or her pair partner. Ask participants to listen for patterns in conditions/assets supporting success and to make note of them. 15 minutes for groups of 4 people

  5. Step 5:

    Collect insights and patterns for the whole group to see on a flip chart. Summarize if needed. 10-15 minutes

  6. Step 6:

    Ask, “How are we investing in the assets and conditions that foster success?” and “What opportunities do you see to do more?” You could Use 1-2-4-All! to discuss the questions. 10 minutes

    Facilitator notes

    We chose a narrow scope of Appreciative Inquiry related to Discovering and Building on the Root Causes of Success. To learn more about A.I. visit