Three tools that support the AI approach and principles:

1 - AI conversations/interviews:

Developing questions

AI interviews – sometimes called appreciative conversations – are at the heart of the process and can be used in many ways. Essentially, they are a structured conversation, using questions which have been consciously and carefully designed. ‘Protocol’ is the term AI practitioners use to describe the sequence and focus of questions in an appreciative conversation, and a protocol usually varies in length from three to six questions.


2 - The 5D cycle:

Definition, Discovery, Dream, Design, Destiny/Delivery

I. Definition

This phase involves choosing the right area, theme or concern to inquire into, within the matter being focused upon. Any definition should stretch and challenge the status quo.

II. Discovery

Essentially this phase is based on dialogue and structured conversations. In depth investigation of ‘what works’ rediscovers and remembers the church’s, organisation’s or community’s successes, strengths and periods of excellence.

III. Dream

This phase is highly practical because it’s grounded in the church’s, organisation’s, or community’s history (rather than unbounded vision making). It is a description of where the church, organisation, or community wishes to be.

IV. Design

In this stage, the stories and the best work from discovery are combined with the imagination and creativity from dream, to create the structures and working arrangements to move things forward.

V. Destiny/Delivery

This stage builds on the dream and design process to create the future arrangements to maintain momentum and generate actions. It engages personal commitment to ensure ‘buy in’ across the church, organization or community.

It is important to remember that AI is not just the 5D process but is about the principles, generativity, and asking the right questions.

3 - SOAR™

Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results/ Resources

SOAR™ is the Appreciative Inquiry contribution to strategic planning, and a ‘generative’ alternative to the dominant threats and weaknesses elements of SWOT.

  • The SOAR approach encourages a more innovative and positive approach to asset-based strategic planning.
  • It generates enthusiasm and creates positive momentum.
  • Focusing on strengths and opportunities for individuals and organisations is much more powerful and effective than dwelling on deficiencies.

SOAR is a trade mark of Jackie Stavros and Gina Hinrichs (The Thin Book of SOAR: building strengths-based strategy, 2009