STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT NAVIGATOR | Dissemination, Implementation, Communication, and Engagement
A guide for health researchers

Home Education Hub Find Engagement Strategies Glossary Contact Us
fal fa-file-spreadsheet fa-sm Fact Sheet

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative inquiry (AI) is a philosophical approach to a research project. AI involves a shift in perspective from focusing on what is not working in a research study to what is already working well. This philosophy flips the traditional deficit-based approach on its head and allows one to inquire about the strengths, possibilities, and successes of a study, as opposed to taking the traditional deficit-based approach.

far fa-dollar-sign fa-sm Budget (e.g. personnel, space, equipment) Low Medium High far fa-user-clock Time per interaction I expect to engage stakeholders for... An hour or less Half a day A full day far fa-calendar-check Number of interactions I expect to interact with stakeholders... 1-2 times Appx. 5 times 10+ times Engagement Purposes far fa-scrubber Identify and explore new perspectives far fa-scrubber Identify which topics are most important to stakeholders far fa-scrubber Select outcomes and measures that matter to stakeholders far fa-scrubber Develop research questions relevant to stakeholders far fa-scrubber Expand and diversify stakeholder outreach far fa-scrubber Investigate best ways to successfully implement a study, based on stakeholder insights far fa-scrubber Design strategies for translating research into practice far fa-clock Time Frame

Varies; can take place over the course of few days or an entire year or more depending on the breadth and depth of topics being explored and the number of stakeholders involved.

fal fa-tasks-alt Workload LIGHT MEDIUM HEAVY
Appropriate Applications More useful for: far fa-scrubber Generating ideas/Innovation far fa-scrubber Collaboration far fa-scrubber Eliciting information far fa-scrubber Quantitatively understanding strengths and potential far fa-scrubber Bringing about strategic change far fa-scrubber Initiating conversations far fa-scrubber Measuring collective change far fa-scrubber Quality improvement Less useful for: far fa-scrubber Quantitatively understanding strengths and potential far fa-scrubber Identifying weaknesses or challenges and their causes far fa-scrubber Measuring individual change far fa-scrubber Quantifying engagement Key Characteristics Resources Needed fas fa-money-bill-waveMoney far fa-scrubber Consider providing food, especially if the session takes up a significant amount of time. fas fa-paperclipMaterials and Resources far fa-scrubber Flip charts, colored index cards, etc. can be used to record participant responses fas fa-usersPersonnel far fa-scrubber Facilitator, preferably someone who can assume a neutral position and who is not an insider at the organization. How To Adopting the Appreciative Inquiry philosophy begins by understanding five foundational principles:
  • Constructionist principle: Reality is socially created through language and conversations.
  • Simultaneity principle: Inquiry creates change- the moment we ask a question, we begin to create a change.
  • Poetic principle: What we choose to study makes a difference. It describes and even creates the world as we know it.
  • Anticipatory principle: Human systems move in the direction of their images of the future. The more positive and hopeful the image of the future, the more positive the present-day action.
  • Positive principle: Positive questions lead to positive change. Identify a medical expert to participate in the first BCT session.
After understanding the principles that underlie the philosophy of Appreciative Inquiry, you are prepared to follow the 5-D cycle of Appreciative Inquiry which offers a practical model for approaching change in a research study.
  1. Define: What is the topic of inquiry? It is important to define the overall focus of the inquiry (what the study wants more of). Definition is used to clarify the area of work to be considered. Definition defines the project’s purpose, content, and what needs to be achieved. In this phase, the guiding question is, “What generative topic do we want to focus on together?”
  2. Discover: Identifying research processes that work well. Discovery is based on a dialogue, as a way of finding ‘what works’. It rediscovers and remembers the research’s successes, strengths and periods of excellence.
  3. Dream: The process of envisioning that would work well in the future. Imagining uses past achievements and successes identified in the discovery phase to imagine new possibilities and envisage a preferred future. It allows researchers and participants to identify their dreams for a community or organization; having discovered ‘what is best’. They have the chance to project it into their wishes, hopes and aspirations for the future.
  4. Design: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well. Design brings together the stories from discovery with the imagination and creativity from dream to create ‘what should be – the ideal’.
  5. Deliver/Destiny: Executing the proposed design. This stage identifies how the design is delivered, and how it’s embedded into research.
Notes There are a variety of ways to implement Appreciative Inquiry. These include one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders as well as in groups ranging from small to thousands of people. Considerations (Potential Pitfalls) Appreciative Inquiry tends to work better if an independent/neutral person leads the process, rather than an insider. Tips Appreciative inquiry tends to work better if an independent/neutral person leads the process, rather than an insider Consider providing trainings for practice leadership to help them understand how Appreciative Inquiry differs from traditional improvement strategies and ensure their buy-in. Variations Appreciative Inquiry can be implemented in person or virtually. Examples acdnat=1543270218_bd44965a11934c1d7bd7fd08a14d2e6b References / Other Resources

The Stakeholder Engagement Navigator is a service of the Data Science to Patient Value Initiative at the
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

About us | Find us on