Appreciative Inquiry Process

Appreciative Inquiry Process

An Appreciative Inquiry Process takes a strengths-based approach to collaboratively making a research decision – focusing on what’s working rather than what’s not working. An Appreciative Inquiry Process is also known as the 4-D cycle, as it involves four stages: Discovery, Dream, Design, and Destiny.

The process begins by choosing a research decision that the group wants to explore (e.g. “What outcome measures should we look at?” “How will we evaluate success in this project?” “What research questions should we focus on?”), and then discovering what people appreciate and like about the topic. The next steps are to dream and envision as a group what could be, and then design what should be. The last stage is an active phase that considers what needs to be done to make it a reality.


The Appreciative Inquiry Process takes a positive spin and can be useful for:

  • Generating new research priorities, questions, outcomes, and areas of evaluation.
  • Creating a shared vision for both researchers and patient/public partners.
  • Deciding on and committing to research decisions that will be actionable with accountability to patient/public partners.


Additional Resources:

1. Appreciative Inquiry - Overview of Methods, Principles and Applications

2. The Center for Appreciative Inquiry

3. Mohr, B. J. & J. M. Watkins, The Essentials of Appreciative Inquiry: A Roadmap for Creating Positive Futures, Waltham, MA: Pegasus Communications, Inc., 2002.