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Questioning for the Positive

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Appreciative inquiry is a change management approach that focuses on identifying what is working well, analyzing why it is working well, and then doing more of it. The fundamentals of appreciative inquiry exist in many leadership development programs and tools. The most impactful tenet of the practice is the use of questioning to focus on the desired future.


The way leaders construct questions will either open or narrow minds. To get more of what we want out of our teams and increase positive outcomes, it is important for leaders to ask questions that encourage high levels of reflection and creative thinking. The continuum below provides guidance for the construction of powerful questions that will build positive and productive thinking within your team.

Focus on Strengths

An underlying assumption of appreciative inquiry is that people and organizations are full of assets, capabilities, resources, and strengths. Focusing on the strengths of the team helps create a positive future. Review these sample questions that highlight the positive and minimize ideas of the situation as a problem to solve.
  • What would represent a “breakthrough achievement” that you want to help make possible?
    If our success was completely guaranteed, what bold steps might we choose?
  • How can we support each other in taking the next steps? What unique contribution can we each make?
    What challenges might come our way and how might we meet them? 
  • What are we doing now that supports the changes we want to see? 

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