Appreciative Inquiry: THE Question

Open book with question markAs 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?

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