This is the second post in a four part blog series, "Peacebuilding and Spirituality in El Salvador: Exploring Appreciative Inquiry methodology".

Chencho has adapted Appreciative Inquiry (AI) methodology as a framework for training in the Peace Movement.

AI for organizations

AI is a change management tool designed to help corporations build internal capacity and increase profits. It uses a strength-based approach that recognizes the power of employees to transform an organization by first identifying and then building on its strengths.[1] AI methodology engages stakeholders at all levels of the organization and guides them through a “4-D Cycle” of Discovery, Dream, Design and Destiny.[2] The process begins with interviews of all employees and partners identify positive attributes of the organization and ends with a plan for the future that builds on these strengths.

AI for the Peace Movement

Chencho has adapted AI for the peace movement, as a tool to develop and grow peace in individuals and communities. He builds on the strengths-based approach to focus on the positive within each individual and structures the workshops on the 4-D Cycle. Participants begin by exploring their own values and principles and end with a vision and plan for the future, that has come from their own place of positive feelings.

Chencho with his Peace Manual


Chencho has adapted the first step of Discovery to bring people into awareness of their own positive values and principles. In AI, this step consists of interviews with employees to identify the organization’s strengths and successes. These positive experiences are then used to inform the rest of the AI process.[3]

In the peace movement, this step is an opportunity for individuals to identify affirmative themes using personal stories and legends.[4] To begin, participants recall a vivencia, related to the workshop theme. Chencho describes a vivencia as a “deep and vital experience in your heart; a movement of change that gives you the guiding way of how you are to behave”.⁠[5]

Participants work with partners to identify the values and principles that are present in the experience. Next the group reads a cultural story or myth and identifies values and principles present in the story. These values and principles are then used to guide the next steps.

Vision, Design, Destiny

The steps of Dream (which Chencho has renamed Vision), thinking of what can be, Design, creating a strategic plan for the future and Destiny, thinking of how to get to the visioned future, follow the AI methodology closely. Participants work through these steps in their small groups to create a vision for the future, a strategic plan and a concrete path to achieve their vision.

By using this positive approach, participants create a vision and plan that is deeply connected to who they are. This creates excitement and an emotional commitment to achieving these future plans. For this commitment to be present, Chencho also stresses the importance that all group members participate equally in the process. He also encourages participants to allow themselves the time and space to be creative throughout the process.

In my next post I will describe my experiences of AI methodology during the course with Chencho.


[1] David L. Cooperrider and Diana Whitney, Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2005), vii, 1.

[2] Ibid., 15.

[3] Ibid., 25.

[4] Jose “Chencho” Alas, Peacebuilding and Spirituality in El Salvador, University of Toronto, La Libertad, El Salvador, 16 May, 2013.

[5] Jose “Chencho” Alas, Peacebuilding and Spirituality in El Salvador, University of Toronto, La Libertad, El Salvador, 17 May, 2013.