Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Appreciative Inquiry

Beware the "Listening Process," as proposed in a resolution to the West Virginia Diocesan Convention (resolution 2)

“A facilitated listening process using tools such as Appreciative Inquiry would afford us, as a diocese, an opportunity to listen to one another in a meaningful way, learn from one another and hold one another in respect and with love as brothers and sisters in Christ even as we explore our differing beliefs which we hold across a continuum concerning..."
(you know what)

And what is Appreciative Inquiry? Here is a description from AI commons,

“Appreciative Inquiry is about the coevolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them. In its broadest focus, it involves systematic discovery of what gives ‘life’ to a living system when it is most alive, most effective, and most constructively capable in economic, ecological, and human terms. AI involves, in a central way, the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential. It centrally involves the mobilization of inquiry through the crafting of the “unconditional positive question” often-involving hundreds or sometimes thousands of people. In AI the arduous task of intervention gives way to the speed of imagination and innovation; instead of negation, criticism, and spiraling diagnosis, there is discovery, dream, and design. AI seeks, fundamentally, to build a constructive union between a whole people and the massive entirety of what people talk about as past and present capacities: achievements, assets, unexplored potentials, innovations, strengths, elevated thoughts, opportunities, benchmarks, high point moments, lived values, traditions, strategic competencies, stories, expressions of wisdom, insights into the deeper corporate spirit or soul-- and visions of valued and possible futures. Taking all of these together as a gestalt, AI deliberately, in everything it does, seeks to work from accounts of this “positive change core”—and it assumes that every living system has many untapped and rich and inspiring accounts of the positive. Link the energy of this core directly to any change agenda and changes never thought possible are suddenly and democratically mobilized.”

A.I. = Absent Intelligence

Linking A.I. to a change agenda might give you exactly the change you hope for.

If you have an agenda, you are not really listening.

And I always thought inquiring minds would appreciate the opportunity for a little "negation, criticism, and spiraling diagnosis."


  1. It seems that with AI, the concepts of self-knowledge and self criticism go out the window.


  2. Careful---there is no room for criticism of any sort, whether self- or otherwise. It is all part of the "new thing" being promoted by 815. Don't criticize, just send us your money.

  3. Anonymous2:57 AM

    Came over from AnglicanCurmudgeon...

    The critical : ) dynamic issue with A.I. is the problem of how to deal realistically with the "weak link" that all congregations have, all individuals have (whatever it might be). Obviously, you don't find your greatest positive without taking into consideration those traits that are "negative" (let's say "the least positive." But as Natural Church Development studies have shown, when it comes to the matter of organic health, and often the consequence of lack of growth in a congregation, it is the least positive attribute, the weak link that needs attending. NCD uses the illustration of an oak barrel with all its planks held together by metal bands..... and in the illustration a few of the planks are actually longer than the others, and there are those planks that are shorter and in the illustration, much shorter(like 1/2 the height of the barrel). The illustration is made complete by realizing that liquid in the barrel (let's hope it is not vintage wine) is pouring out over the top of the shortest of the planks. Thus, the level of liquid in the barrel is only as high as the shortest plank, which, converting back to parish dynamic, is equal to "the weak link" (such as dynamic worship, effective evangelism, etc.). Further, as an organic illustration, there is the biotic principle that working on ANY part of the barrel - but especially the weak link - brings further strength to even the strong attributes already.
    My understanding is that in the long run, A.I. tends to not allow focus on the things that disturb us and fail us. The bible talks about how a bitter root produces bitter fruit.

  4. Thanks, R. Sherman, Cato, and Rob+.

    There are so many ways to go with any discussion of A.I. that my head starts swimming. If I eliminate the negatives and focus on positive questions about A.I., I wind up with the answer the A.I. team wants. That answer is a warm and fuzzy feeling about something I will never understand in depth.

    Chewing on a bitter root is distasteful, but some of our best medicines come from bitter roots.

  5. Appreciative Inquiry = Democratic Centralism = Stalinism