Love the idea of using Appreciative Inquiry to transform your organization or community?
AI training is one way you can develop your knowledge into practical skills—whether you’re looking to facilitate or simply encourage appreciative mindsets.
In this article, we’ve put together resources that cover some background information on certification: how to go about it, the many different options at your fingertips, and some of the best-known courses for Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training.
If you’d just like to ‘dip your toes in the water’ per se, we’ve included online options and shorter Appreciative Inquiry workshops, too. Last but certainly not least, we have given an overview of what happens at the World Appreciative Inquiry Conference (WAIC) for practitioners who want to learn and network. And, we’ll update this page as we find out more about new courses and upcoming events.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Strengths Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help your clients realize their unique potential and create a life that feels energizing and authentic.
This Article Contains:
- What is Appreciative Inquiry Training?
- How to Acquire Certification
- Appreciative Inquiry Coaching and Consulting
- Appreciative Inquiry Training Options
- What is Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training? (AIFT)
- 6 AI Workshops
- 7 AI Courses
- Other Online Options
- The World Appreciative Inquiry Conference
- A Take-Home Message
What is Appreciative Inquiry Training?
Knowledge is one thing, and being able to apply Appreciative Inquiry in practice is another. It’s especially true given AI’s incredible scalability—used effectively, it can inspire, mobilize, and sustain change in communities as well as companies.
Appreciative Inquiry training comes in many forms, but most courses are aimed at imparting the thinking, design, and applied skills for:
- Appreciative Inquiry Facilitation – this involves designing and implementing interventions, workshops, and summits;
- Appreciative Inquiry Coaching – AI coaches help generate positive changes by using AI at the individual, group, or organizational level; and
- AI Consulting – in which practitioners and experienced professionals provide AI expertise and methodologies to help clients.
Who Can Do Appreciative Inquiry Training?
AI skills, knowledge, and methodologies are relevant for anyone wanting to approach or implement change using a strengths-based approach (Whitney & Cooperrider, 2011). If you are already familiar with Appreciative Inquiry interventions and summits, you’ll be aware that they are usually facilitated by more than one certified practitioner.
Thus, it’s beneficial if more than one employee from an organization is trained in the approach if a company wants to run its own AI interventions. Otherwise, foundational courses generally require no prerequisites, as they tend to impart the basic concepts such as AI theory, how to adopt a strengths-based mindset and the key principles of the approach.
Introductory or foundation courses are usually aimed at organizational or team leaders, in both for- and non-profit organizations. Given that AI has potential applications across the board, including at the interpersonal level, Appreciative Inquiry Training is aimed at people—anyone—who wants to:
- Engage community or internal company stakeholders;
- Design, measure, and facilitate positive, sustainable strengths-based change interventions;
- Create or encourage an appreciative learning culture in a human system or systems;
- Encourage more ‘whole systems’ thinking in organizations and people;
- Shift perspectives on problem-solving and decision-making; and
- Work on creating or enhancing shared goals.
How to Acquire Certification
Becoming a certified AI facilitator, practitioner, coach, or consultant involves more in-depth knowledge of applying AI in practice, and foundational knowledge from an introductory course is typically a prerequisite.
Different institutions offer their own certifications, so there is no one ‘correct’ way to get certified. Some of these are outlined slightly further on in our section on Appreciative Inquiry Training Options, where we’ve tried to include a wide variety of pathways.
Appreciative Inquiry Coaching and Consulting
What is the difference between AI facilitation, coaching, and consulting? If you’re unsure of what your calling might be, or what the next step is in your professional development, here’s an overview.
Appreciative Inquiry Facilitation
AI facilitators help groups by focusing on the Appreciative Inquiry process—the summit or workshop participants drive the content (Ludema & Mohr, 2003; Whitney & Cooperrider, 2011). Summits tend to be on a much larger scale than smaller workshops, although both may form part of an AI intervention.
Succinctly though, organizational change in a multinational might require holding large-scale Appreciative Inquiry Summits at key points throughout an intervention, between which workshops with smaller groups of stakeholders take place.
While participants bring ideas and even ask questions about the inquiry topic, facilitators help them manage what they bring to the table. They introduce methodologies such as the SOAR framework or techniques like unconditional positive questions so that participants draw on their own internal knowledge. And of course, collaborate.
AI Coaching and Consulting
Depending on the practitioner’s skills and the relevant context, Appreciative Coaching can be one-on-one or take place at a broader level—for teams or entire companies. In all cases, however, the goal is to “generate positive changes in performance, professional development, and organizational leadership” (CAI, 2019).
Appreciative Coaching builds on and leverages a client’s strengths through collaborative design of strategies and supportive resources. Between coaches and individual clients, we see AI applied at an interpersonal level; self-awareness, rather than collective awareness, is a key focus for sustainable positive change in these contexts.
Consultants, on the other hand, may not be involved in such close shared experiences—as experts in AI, they can be called in to provide advice on a range of situations where Appreciative Inquiry provides value. While the nature of their role in a human system may be less strictly delineated, they need to possess strong knowledge of AI’s key principles (see these appreciative inquiry books) and application to give professional advice (Drew & Wallis, 2014).
In a nutshell, all AI practitioners build on the existing strengths of a human system. Facilitators, coaches, and consultants all use the Appreciative Inquiry Model to build appreciative, strengths-based attitudes to encourage positive change or growth.
Appreciative Inquiry Training Options
The best-known training options lead to certification as an AI practitioner. In this article, you’ll find quite a few opportunities, but here’s an overview of what you can expect if you’re just starting your search.
The Champlain College David L Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry
Champlain College offers:
- Graduate Certificates (online);
- A Practitioner Certification Program;
- An AI Badge Program – this is for undergraduates at the College;
- Online AI Courses – such as 4-week introductory programs and 12-week training;
- Introductory Workshops to Appreciative Inquiry; and
- A Facilitating Appreciative Inquiry Training course, which is a collaborative training offered with independent trainers.
The Center for Appreciative Inquiry (CAI)
The CAI has a plethora of training programs at various levels, and with different specializations.
- Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) – we’ve covered this in depth below;
- Appreciative Inquiry Coaching Training (AICT) – this builds on the AIFT to focus more on coaching and consultation practice at a deeper level;
- Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner Training (AIPT) – this is professional development for experienced AI facilitators with an AICT or equivalent. Essentially, building on and further enhancing the design, leadership, and measurement skills that are required of AI interventions;
- Appreciative Inquiry Train-the-Trainer Program – successful completion of this enables the participant to deliver the AIFT, AICT, and AIPT courses just described above; and
- Chief Lead Appreciative Inquiry Trainer – for those who want to work further with the CAI.
The Center for Positive Change
The Center for Positive Change (CPC) operates internationally. If you want to get accredited, their Certification in Appreciative Inquiry Practice & Consulting includes CPC registration.
The following sections will look closer at where, how, and when you can enroll in these training options, as well as what certifications you’ll get on their successful completion.
What is Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training? (AIFT)
The Center for Appreciative Inquiry provides four-day training courses for anybody who would like to facilitate AI sessions in their work context. As noted, Appreciative Inquiry interventions are co-facilitated by several leaders, which means that organizations are encouraged to send more than one participant. However, AIFT is valuable for everybody wanting to understand the discipline’s theory and principles.
The AIFT involves workshops with a definitive ‘application’ focus. Accordingly, learners can expect to acquire collective thinking, interview, and practical skills for facilitating an AI summit.
The AIFT Course
Institution: The Center for Appreciative Inquiry
Dates: Various dates, check the calendar out here
Duration: 4 days
There are plenty of opportunities for networking throughout the AIFT course, which combines experiential learning, lectures, and multimedia content.
- On the first day, participants take part in a day-long Appreciative Inquiry;
- Workshop two on the second day unpacks the history, principles, and theory of the approach before participants can design their own inquiry;
- The aim of the third workshop is to plan how these AI learnings can be applied in your own work or community context; and
- On the last day, participants practice and reinforce their learning.
As mentioned earlier, there are further opportunities for getting certified through Supervised Experience with the Center.
Find out more about the Center’s AIFT here.
6 AI Workshops
Workshops involve short, intensive learning experiences, making them ideal if you’re after immersive content and a chance to network in person. That said, the majority of these workshops are held on-site, so might require advance planning if you want to attend.
1. Foundations of Appreciative Inquiry – Executive Education Workshops
Institution: Center for Values-Driven Leadership (CVDL), Benedictine University, Illinois
Dates: Varied, check this CVDL site for details on workshops
Duration: 3 days
As executive workshops, these are targeted at leaders and are highly action-oriented. They give an introduction and overview of AI for those who want to learn about theory, case studies, and potential applications for AI. Like all good courses on the same, they consider Appreciative Inquiry at various levels—one-on-one, at the team level, and on larger scales.
2. Appreciative Leadership for Peak Performance – Executive Education Workshops
Institution: Center for Values-Driven Leadership (CVDL), Benedictine University, Illinois
Dates: As above, they are varied.
Duration: These are supposedly flexible—but again, you will need to contact the CVDL for information.
Unlike the introductory course above, these are about taking an appreciative approach to your personal development as a leader. Using AI techniques and approaches, executives can examine their own strengths and learn to use appreciative coaching with co-workers.
3. Applications of Appreciative Inquiry – CPC Workshop
Institution: Center for Positive Change (CPC), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Duration: 2 days
For those who’ve already done a foundation program, the Applications workshop offers more in the way of skills and knowledge. Developed by Tenny Poole, Ralph Weickel, and Diana Whitney, it’s structured as a ‘working clinic’, using case studies and practical tools to enrich your knowledge of AI.
The workshop aims to help participants:
- Identify strategic inquiry topics;
- Create positive questions for impactful dialogue and sustainable results;
- Develop provocative propositions;
- Build engaged innovation teams in an organization; and
- Design an implementable plan for AI interventions and initiatives.
Among other tools, the Project Planning Template and Applications Matrix are introduced. This site will give you more information.
4. Build High Performance with Appreciative Leadership
Institution: Center for Positive Change, Seal Beach, California
Duration: 3 days
This is very much aimed at leaders and executives and focuses on internal, individual strengths. AI principles and theory are applied to help leaders develop their unique strengths, create their own positive approaches, and engage others. For OD and HR practitioners, it’s a nice blend of personal leadership (values, behaviors, impact) and positive psychology to boost organizational performance.
Find more details here.
5. Advanced Workshop in Appreciative Inquiry
Institution: Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
Duration: 3 days
This is the capstone project for the CWRU’s AI certificate, as a standalone workshop. The certificate as a whole—including this module—is covered below in ‘Ai Courses’.
6. One-day intensive AI workshop
Institution: Appreciating People, UK
Duration: One day
UK-based organizations can arrange bespoke AI introductory courses through Appreciating People, which has worked with the NHS and numerous non-profit UK organizations. Customized Appreciative Inquiry training programs are also ordered if employees are interested in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) certification.
Find out more here.
7 AI Courses
In this section, we share a wide range of broader and focused courses that range between Positive Organizational Development on the one end and Appreciative Education on the other. All of these emphasize the Appreciative Inquiry strengths-based approach. If you’re hoping to learn more about the theory behind AI and get a good sense of what it is, these may help.
If you’re looking for online Appreciative Inquiry courses, skip ahead to the next section where we’ve covered some less intensive, online-only options.
1. Positive Organization Development Online Graduate Certificate
Institution: Champlain College
Dates: Three yearly intakes during Spring, Summer, and Fall. Find out more here.
Duration: 5 modules if you are not undertaking an MBA with the College, 4 if you are
This is a graduate certificate that covers foundational AI theory, positive psychology knowledge, and inquiry-based leadership.
- How to apply strength-based organizational change approaches and theory to improve and add value to human systems, such as those approaches above;
- How to design and use appreciative questions at different levels within the organization to encourage positive change. These include individual-, groups-, and systems-levels;
- How to create and apply AI interventions;
- How to select relevant strength-based measurement tools; and
- How to utilize them for implementing and sustaining positive change in the organization.
Find out more at the Champlain website.
2. Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner Certification Program
Institution: Champlain College
Dates: Visit the website to find out more
Duration: Varied, see below
This course is made up of three main parts, with a choice of online or in-person attendance.
- Part 1 is a ‘Foundations’ course that covers the background of Appreciative Inquiry—its premises, how it works, and its potential applications. Doing this in person in Tampa, Florida takes 3 days, or you can opt for the online 12-week course.
- Part 2 is Fieldwork and participants create their own portfolio of AI applications. In their own relevant system or organization, they create a personalized Appreciative Inquiry workshop design and demonstrate the use of assessments and data in the workshop. They also develop a bespoke ‘AI application project’ that’s relevant to their intended intervention and document the learning through a reflective journal.
- Part 3 is a Capstone Project that takes place in-house.
The links above will take you to the AI practitioner certificate program page.
3. CPC Certification in Appreciative Inquiry Practice & Consulting (CPC CAIPC)
Institution: Corporation for Positive Change (Asia and International)
Dates: Check the contact information here
The Corporation for Positive Change (CPC) CAIPC has a coursework element and a practicum element. The first comprises two core modules: The Power of Appreciative Inquiry and Appreciative Inquiry Summit or Applications of Appreciative Inquiry. Learners also choose two of 5+ electives to earn the Certificate in the Study of Appreciative Inquiry, such as:
- Appreciative Leadership Development Program;
- Appreciative Coaching –the Art of Transformation; and/or
- Appreciative Team Building
The second part involves a practicum, personal mentoring, and an application to the Certification Advisory Board. On successfully completing the CPC CAIPC, practitioners will be registered with the CPC for three years.
Find more information at this link.
4. Appreciative Inquiry Certificate in Positive Business and Society Change
Institution: Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University
Dates: Check this link
Duration: 3-6 days, depending on the pathway you choose
This executive education course has three parts, but you can attend only part of the program. AI is seen as a context-embedded, whole-systems approach, and the course was developed by David Cooperrider and Donald Fry.
- Part One is Appreciative Inquiry: Leveraging Strengths for Transformative, Lasting Change and this may be studied by itself without the following two parts. Participants look at the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of AI, its applications, and learn how to use Appreciative Inquiry Interview Questions. During the 3-day course, you will also learn how to design and create an AI project.
- Participants carry out fieldwork in Part Two. Interviewing real people with AI, attending positive psychology conferences and coaching, and creating an AI portfolio are all part of this applied learning process.
- The last stage, Part Three, is a capstone session where learners get interactive feedback on AI projects in a 3-day program.
Visit the official Weatherhead School of Management website at the link above.
5. Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner Certificate Program
Institution: Sequoia Group, Singapore, in partnership with Champlain College and the David Cooperrider CAI
Duration: 3-6 days, depending on the pathway you choose
This in-depth practical course involves both field- and coursework. Attendance at and successful completion of the full 6-day program is required for the AI Practitioner’s Certificate and the training outcomes for practicing AI independently.
The Group also provides Educators’ Certification Foundations Programs for positive educators.
This official site provides more detailed information on the AI Practitioner Certificate Program.
6. Appreciative Inquiry Coaching Training (AICT) and AI Practitioner Training (AIPT)
Institution: Center for Appreciative Inquiry
Price & Dates: Contact the CAI
Duration: 5 days for the AICT (32 training hours), 3 days for the AIPT (21 training hours).
If you have completed the AIFT and are registered as a coach with the International Coaching Federation (ICF), advanced level training is available for practitioners to become accredited Appreciative Coaches (AICP). This is a prerequisite for further training at the more advanced AIPT level.
Find out more about the AICT, AIPT, and the Center’s other courses here.
7. Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner Training
Institution: Institut Francais D’Appreciative Inquiry, Paris
Dates: Various dates, as per the IFAI site
Duration: 4 days
French language-speaking professionals interested in AI can attend several different kinds of training at the IFAI, such as Advanced AI training with Weatherhead co-creator Ron Fry. However, this AI Practitioner Training course is the standard program for aspiring consultants, coaches, and facilitators to get an overview of the approach.
It includes opportunities for online and one-on-one supervision, resources, and teaches methodologies for implementing AI interventions.
More details at this link (French).
Other Online Options
We’ve included less intensive University-run programs and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) in this category. Champlain College runs two online courses on AI, and there are some MOOCs in Appreciate Inquiry on platforms like Coursera and Udemy, to name a couple.
If you’re looking for all the flexibility of an online, (usually) self-paced program, it’s possible to get certificates of achievement or completion without leaving the house.
A note on paying for courses: for the more ‘casual’ platforms, you don’t always have to pay upfront, especially if you just want to get a sense of what you’ll be learning. Lots of platforms will provide some kind of ‘test’ experience that you can look through; all courses worth their salt will also provide the syllabus outline before you dive in.
Some, like Coursera, will also allow you to simply ‘audit’ the learning material, too. This is one good option if you’re interested in a free overview but don’t want to do tests or earn a certificate.
1. Developing an Appreciative Mindset
University: Champlain College
Duration: 4 weeks
This course is ‘preliminary exposure’ into the thinking behind AI. The goals are to give learners some grasp of AI’s broader uses and equip learners with the ability to apply Appreciative Inquiry principles in daily life. It comprises online discussions, readings, and looks at AI in both personal and social contexts.
Download this document for more information.
2. Appreciative Inquiry Foundations Program
University: Champlain College
Duration: 12 weeks
This online course goes further into the key methods, models, and processes so learners can use Appreciative Inquiry for company change. Throughout the program—which includes some coaching and webinars—participants will learn about:
- The 5D Appreciative Inquiry Model – Define, Discover, Dream, Design, and Deliver (or Destiny);
- AI’s fundamental theories and its guiding principles;
- How to construct Appreciative Inquiry interview questions, and how positive questions can be used;
- AI’s more general applications.
Find out more at this official website (same as for the above course).
3. Leading Positive Change through Appreciative Inquiry
From: Case Western Reserve University
Price: Coursera has a monthly subscription fee, not including a certificate for the course
Recommended Hours: 18
This course blends change management with AI; it’s part of a larger series on ‘Inspired Leadership’ by Case Western Reserve. While you’re free to study at your own pace, the syllabus is structured as 6 different weeks:
- First, you’ll get an introduction to Appreciative Inquiry as a strengths-based discipline;
- In Week 2, there is a more specific focus on positive questions and how you can conduct an Appreciative Inquiry interview;
- During the third week, the 4D framework is covered;
- After this, it considers positive vs negative or deficit-focused imagery in the positive organization;
- Week 5 looks at Topic Choice, which some models call ‘Defining’ the intervention focus; and
- The last week summarizes and concludes, with a case study.
You’ll find the course here.
4. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in Practice
From: Illumeo Learning & Udemy’s Carrie Foster
Recommended Hours: Approximately 1 hour of lectures plus assessments
Designed for practicing or aspiring managers, HR professionals, and leaders, this program covers the fundamental theory of AI and its principles. It looks at empirical evidence on positive ‘best past’ questions and their potential impacts of AI inquiry in organizations, by covering how positive futures are related to our actions.
There are several key aspects of the content:
- Introductions to both the strengths-based approach and Appreciative Inquiry;
- Positive questions (AI interview theory) and the role of storytelling narratives; and
- The AI (4D) change method.
Visit this link to learn more about the program.
The World Appreciative Inquiry Conference
The 2019 World Appreciative Inquiry Conference (WAIC) was organized by the David L Cooperrider Center for AI at Champlain College, together with Case Western University and the Institut Francais D’Appreciative Inquiry. The WAIC aims to highlight Appreciative Inquiry theory and practice, bringing together practitioners and researchers in the field.
As well as being a networking event for facilitators, coaches, and consultants, WAIC programs showcase positive psychology, organizational development, and neuroscience developments in the field. Through interactive workshops and presentations, cases and experiences are shared with the goal of bringing AI into ‘mainstream’ business.
For the latest information about conferences, take a look at our dedicated article detailing a range of upcoming positive psychology events.
A Take-Home Message
Appreciative Inquiry invites us to recognize and develop the best in ourselves and our organizations. As we build on our shared strengths and visions for the future, it helps us stimulate engagement, creativity, and commitment for better performance. And with so many potential applications, we’re seeing more and more learning opportunities for accreditation—general and specialized.
Hopefully, you’ve found something convenient for your professional development above.
If you’ve found something that appeals to you and you have any questions, let us know in the comments. We’ll update this website when we hear about new Appreciative Inquiry training opportunities.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Strengths Exercises for free.
- CAI. (2019). Appreciative Coaching. Retrieved from https://www.centerforappreciativeinquiry.net/offering/appreciative-coaching/
- Drew, S. A., & Wallis, J. L. (2014). The use of Appreciative Inquiry in the Practices of Large-Scale Organisational Change a Review and Critique: A review and critique. Journal of General Management, 39(4), 3-26.
- Ludema, J., & Mohr, B. (2003). The appreciative inquiry summit: A practitioner’s guide for leading large-group change. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
- Whitney, D., & Cooperrider, D. (2011). Appreciative inquiry: A positive revolution in change. ReadHowYouWant.com.