Understanding the Prelude Suite. Part II: Appreciative Inquiry

I’m going to continue our Prelude series of articles. Today we will talk about a great combination of the Prelude Suite and Appreciative Inquiry.

Prelude Suite™ is a trust accelerator

Adding Prelude Suite™ to the beginning of a project adds a few hours to your timelines, but will act as a catalyst towards developing trust. This ultimately leads towards significant increases in team performance.

There are 3 modules available within the Prelude Suite™ (Module 1: Tune-Up; Module 2: Practice; Module 3: Perform). Collectively, these modules move your team from a “Me” to “We” mindset.

Part of Understanding the Prelude Suite series:

  • Part I: DISC 
  • Part II: Appreciative Inquiry (you are reading it now)
  • Part III: MBTI

Follow it to stay up to date!


Appreciative Inquiry [AI] is the theory and practice of organizational transformation developed by Dr.David Cooperrider and Dr. Suresh Srivastva in 1992 at Case Western University. AI focuses on what works well for people as opposed to what doesn’t.

During the process, members of a team or organization co-create a picture of the positive future organization they imagine. The use images, stories, theater, etc to express what that that may look like. Research shows that this helps people to actualize what they envision. The AI founders called this the “Heliotropic Effect”. The concept, borrowed from botany, refers to the tendency of certain plants to continually turn towards sunlight. “Like a plant that grows in the direction of the light source, individuals and groups strive to grow towards the positive image they hold” (D. Cooperrider, 1990: appreciativeinquiry.org). As Dr. Kim Cameron notes “all living systems are inclined toward that which gives life” (Making the Impossible Possible: Leading Extraordinary Performance: The Rocky Flats Story, 2006).

The heliotropic effect operates on an individual and social level. Our own positive images and related expectations help generate it. It is also generated when others have positive expectations of us. It occurs even when individuals are exposed only temporarily to life affirming, positive behaviors. As Dr. Cooperrider observes: “The artful creation of positive imagery on a collective basis may well be the most prolific activity that individuals and organizations can engage in if their aim is to help bring to fruition a positive and humanly significant future.”

There are four broad principles of Appreciative Inquiry:

  1. Words create worlds
  2. Positive images lead to positive action
  3. Quality relationships
  4. Previously hidden possibilities emerge

As well, Appreciative Inquiry generally involves four stages called the 4D Cycle of Inquiry as illustrated in the following diagram and which involve: Discovery, Dream, Design and Destiny.

The Prelude Suite & Appreciative Inquiry. COMPLEMEMTARITY

The Prelude Suite process embodies key Appreciative Inquiry principles and practices. This unique experiential learning process is essentially a heliotropic effect accelerator. As one youth employment skills coach noted: “The Prelude Suite is unique and serves a great purpose in the educational and employment field. The “I, We, and All” transition was spectacular!” Human systems are largely heliotropic in character, meaning that they exhibit an observable and largely automatic tendency to evolve in the direction of positive anticipatory images of the future” (D. Cooperrider, PhD). Accordingly,

“the heliotropic effect not only produces elevated performance, but also it provides amplifying benefits—escalating, self-reinforcing performance—and buffering benefits— the development of resiliency and the ability to absorb negative influences”

(Dr. K.Cameron, The Heliotropic Effect of Abundance, 2009).

A an early prototype of the Prelude Suite was introduced at the 2009 World AI Conference. It was very well received by practitioners. Indeed, one generous individual made an invaluable recommendation that greatly enhanced the learning design.

If you want to know more about the great combination of the Prelude Suite and Appreciative Inquiry join us for the next meet-up: “Prelude Suite & Appreciative Inquiry”.

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