From Steel Mills to Dinner Tables: The Power of Storytelling with Dr. Ronald Fry

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Dr. Ronald Fry, PhD, is one of the co-creators of the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) theory and method. In this episode, he chats with host Dr. Lindsey Godwin about his perspective on impactful storytelling and the true power of the Appreciative Inquiry approach.

“We know scientifically that when people connect to shared strengths, they immediately see new possibilities”

— Dr. Ron Fry

Ron highlights real life examples that illustrate the power of storytelling in breaking down barriers and helping us solve complex problems. From drastically improving safety for hundreds of employees in a steel mill to having more open conversations with family at the dinner table, it’s easy to see the inspirational impact storytelling can play in both our professional and personal lives. We’re certain Ron’s insights will encourage you to think deeply about the questions you ask, how every question is really an intervention, and what it takes to ask meaningful and impactful questions.

Dr. Ronald Fry is an author and professor of Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. As the co-creator of Appreciative Inquiry, Ron works with groups, organizations and institutions around the world to increase their cooperative capacity to engage the whole system in strategic thinking, planning and change.

Episode Highlights:

  • Ron’s definition of Appreciative Inquiry.
  • The scientific research and data behind the impacts of Appreciative Inquiry and storytelling.
  • Why storytelling is a crucial part of Appreciative Inquiry.
  • How storytelling is used to create meaningful and measurable change in organizations.
  • The greatest lesson Ron has learned about leading change with Appreciative Inquiry.
  • The transformational impact that Appreciative Inquiry has had on Ron’s personal life.
  • Advice for using Appreciative Inquiry in your organization or personal life: Try to be it before you do it. Watch your thoughts, language, and tendencies. It’s a constant practice because we’re human!

Resources Mentioned


  • “Strangers could interview each other, find commonalities in their different stories, and you can see the bond or you could experience the connective energy of that. It relates to inquiry. You’re listening to someone’s story, they’re listening to your story, and then together, you’re inquiring… Are their commonalities in our different experiences? And lo and behold, there always are.”
  • “The power of stories to connect people – no matter how familiar or different or strangers they are to each other – I just see that over and over. Start with stories, never start with what we call a list question (what do you think about…).”
  • “Before you can authentically help others or urge others to look for the best and then work from there, I think you have to see it in yourself.”
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