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.