Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Power of Questions

I continue to be more and more enthralled with the power of meaningful questions to elicit and enact positive change, through the dialogue and relationships they unleash. My recent study of the Appreciative Inquiry change model has only served to solidify my lifelong hunch that authentic conversations are the primary means for any sustainable transformation—whether the subject at hand is a person, a family, a community, a movement, a nation, or simply an ideology.

The AI model—more and more a key tool for those who practice in the field of organizational development—is built upon the premise of focusing upon what is working well; the confluence of talents and motivations. The questions that are posed give others permission to think and dream big, and then to execute the fertile ideas in the context of strategic partnerships.

The model was created by professors David L. Cooperrider and Diana Whitney, and has been utilized by organizations of all shapes and sizes in all industries. It dovetails very well with the emerging strengths revolution (see books such as Marcus Buckingham’s Go Put Your Strengths to Work) that is teaching people to focus on leveraging their talents rather than spinning their wheels trying to fix their weaknesses and become the proverbial “well-rounded” individual.

Like the strengths focus, positive-oriented questions also cut against the grain of society’s default instincts to major in what is wrong and celebrate failure. Opportunities for mediocrity abound in a culture of growing distractions, and the right question at the right time can cut through the clutter and lift the mind to new heights of critical thinking and excellent work.

I value a significant conversation, peppered with humor and vulnerability, over almost any other experience. To be present in the moment with another or a group of others is to risk and gain everything.

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At 1:31 PM , Blogger Rebecca said...

Fabulous post and fabulous blog. Thank you for your post over at Miscellaneous Mayhem. I'm adding you to my GoogleReader and putting you on my blogroll.

Authenticity. It is a really potent word and one of those concepts that can be used either for good or for ill.

This is my first real engagement with appreciative inquiry. I look forward to reading more!

At 10:20 PM , Anonymous Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

At 5:26 AM , Blogger John Michael De Marco said...

Thanks, Rebecca. I will add you to my links as well, and look forward to reading and posting on your site on a regular basis.

Authenticity is a dangerous concept indeed. The "Toward" that precedes it in my blog title is the key. I simply hope to say on the journey. If I ever feel I've fully arrived, I'd better be careful less I grow self-deceived...

At 5:31 AM , Blogger John Michael De Marco said...

Rodrigo, forgive me but I am having difficulty in fully translating your post into English. Would it be possible for you to re-post in English?


At 7:24 AM , Blogger Rebecca said...

Rodrigo found your site via Google and thought your post was very interesting. He would also like you to know that he makes personalized t-shirts. :-) That's a paraphrase. My Portuguese is er...non-existent, but my knowledge of Spanish, French and a bit of Italian help. :-) So does Babelfish.

I will ruminate some more on Authenticity...I like your "toward."

At 11:16 AM , Blogger John Michael De Marco said...

It's great to have secured my own online translator! Do you solve IT issues also? ;-)

At 5:31 PM , Blogger Rebecca said...

Sure, I do IT issues. I turn it off then on again. ;-)

At 3:25 AM , Anonymous Edaline said...

Keep up the good work.


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