Appreciative Inquiry: THE Question

As an appreciative inquiry practitioner, it’s so easy to get caught up in the ‘busy-ness’ of work and forget to ask myself the most important question of the day.

And what’s that?

It’s “What appreciative question can I ask today?”

Without asking myself this, I often feel like an Appreciative Inquiry technician. That is, a technician who uses AI as a ‘tool’ rather than one who lives the principles of AI.

The other day, Sue and I were at a business meeting and we were describing Appreciative Inquiry to a business associate. We were looking at the possibilty of working together on an overseas project with him and how AI could benefit a large company with which he was associated.

I could see him nod his head but not really ‘get AI’. The topic turned to sport, coaching in particular, as we both shared the same background – he coaches a young football team and I’m an ex basketball coach.

So then I asked him an appreciative question: ’As a coach, can you tell me about a time when you faced the most difficult challenge and you were successful?’

All of a sudden, his face lit up and he told me the story of an 8-year old football player who he helped overcome the fear of playing a contact sport.

He was re-living that experience of success – seeing it and feeling it – and this made it easier for him to understand what it meant to ask appreciative questions in a workplace environment.

And in that moment I felt like I was living the spirit of Appreciative Inquiry.

It felt great, and it has encouraged me ask THE question on a daily basis.

What appreciative question can I ask today?

For other posts on Appreciative Inquiry please go to our blog on BJ Seminars International

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Comment by chris on June 8, 2012 at 4:33am

Thanks Michael and Jan.

Michael: Im glad you have discovered AI and hopefully it may be helpful for you.

Jan: re 'walk the talk' - agree. As a facilitator and trainer I need to 'walk the talk' otherwise the experience for me and a group can become hollow.

Comment by Michael Mc Garrell on June 7, 2012 at 7:24pm

Thank you for sharing Chris. Food for thought, I have never heard of AI before, I would have done it before without knowing what I was doing, however now   I can consciously do it knowing what I am doing. I can also ask myself "what appreciative question can I ask today?" :) I like when we can use different approaches in stimulating positive vibes  in those around us. Sometimes we fail to realise that what we say and can really affect for good or bad someone's day. I find that AI is one way of positively affecting those around us and I will make it practice to do it as often as I can. Thanks again for sharing. I have learned. CHeers

Comment by Jan Somers on June 7, 2012 at 1:37pm

I appreciate that you share this case Chris. It brings up the "walk your talk" theme that is brought up during leadership development training. Making people connect with an appreciative emotion can trigger them to adhere a more appreciative and strengthbased approach when relating to others. And since Peter Drucker once said in a conversation with David Coopperrider: "Leadership is about aligning the strengths and talents within the organisation so that the weaknesses of the organisation become irrelevant. "

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on June 1, 2012 at 4:42pm

Thanks for sharing Chris. I found this very useful.


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