Do we need to measure change? Perhaps we should assess our progress.

Recently I was asked for my thoughts about the difference between Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and SALT. There is a mountain of material on AI on the web and I read some of it. As I was going through it, it seemed to me that 2 words that people kept linking with AI were ‘change’ and ‘empower’.

If I were looking for a distinction for what the Constellation does, it would be easy to talk about empower, but I stayed with the idea of ‘change’. Many people claim to be able to make change happen, and proponents of AI seem enthusiastic about its ability to change things or people.

But it seems to me that the Constellation does not seek change in a conventional sense. Our starting point is that individuals and communities have lots of strengths and our challenge is to stimulate those strengths. People are not in a bad place and need help to get to a good place. They have strengths and perhaps those strengths need to be stimulated or to be awakened. So I felt quite pleased with finding this distinction to explore.

But then I started to think about the part of the Competence process called ‘Self Measurement of Change’. Why are we looking to measure change in the light of the above thinking? We have strengths. Perhaps we should be assessing our progress in developing those strengths. So first of all we do an assessment to find out where we are. We take some actions. And then we would like to assess our progress in the light of those actions. The steps follow naturally.

I confess I have never liked the phrase ‘Self Measurement of Change’. I don’t think much either of ‘measurement’ or of ‘change’. Perhaps we should use ‘Self Assessment of Progress’.

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Comment by Geoff Parcell on September 29, 2009 at 4:39pm
“Appreciative Inquiry seeks out the best of what is to help ignite the collective imagination of what might be.”
—Cooperrider & Whitney, 2000
Comment by Laurence Gilliot on September 29, 2009 at 8:26am
Thanks for sharing your interesting reflections, Phil. I like the idea of self-assessment of progress.
Indeed, we cannot change people, people change by themselves. And sometimes they don't change, they just rediscover their own strengths and start using them...

Laurence

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