Module 6: Appreciative Inquiry

Asset mapping and capacity inventories are tools that can be grouped under the umbrella of “appreciative inquiry,” a fundamental component of ABCD that the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) calls “a strategy for purposeful change that identifies the best of ‘what is’ to pursue dreams and possibilities of ‘what could be.’”(1)

A comprehensive overview of appreciative inquiry, or AI, can be found here. Please read this information carefully.

For a multi-media representation of how appreciative inquiry is being used to transform organizational processes and community attitudes, please follow the instructions to watch this 30-minute video. Consider why the premise of appreciative inquiry melds so well with the principles of ABCD. (Note that the “Destiny” phase about which you just read is referred to as the “Doing” phase in this video. While the terminology is different, the meaning behind the words is the same.)


  1. Click here.
  2. In the bottom right-hand corner, in the box entitled “Get the Video Feature,” click “Watch the video.”
  3. If you do not have RealPlayer, you will need to download it. A free download is available here.

Post-video wrap-up

The quoted text below indicates direct quotations from the narrator of the video. These noteworthy quotations exemplify the essence, intent, and outcome of appreciative inquiry as a transformative organizational strategy.(2)

Trouble shooting

Ideally, if the questions asked by community developers are phrased appropriately, community members being interviewed will be led to respond with productive answers. For example, asking questions like, “What would you like to see done in your community? What is your favorite aspect of this community? What skills could you contribute to a successful project?” will yield much more constructive answers than, “What do you need? What is your community lacking?” Although their answers would identify problems that need to be fixed, the latter questions don't provide the type of springboard that the former set of questions does.

What if the interviewee’s goals are too lofty? Let’s examine this example of how a difficult request was navigated.(3) S = Susie, the interviewer; W = William, the community member being interviewed.

Go To Module 7: ABCD Case Studies >>


(1) “Appreciative Inquiry and Community Development.” International Institute for Sustainable Development (2000). Accessed on 10 June 2010.

(2)Appreciative Inquiry: A Beginning. Director Anil Annaiah. Producer Neil Ford.International Institute for Sustainable Development & MYRADA, 1999. Film.

(3) Kretzmann, John P. Class Lecture. “The ABCD Approach & Temporary Volunteer Projects.” Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. June 2009.