Ask Carefully. You May Find Yourself There.

We grow in the direction of the questions we ask. Our line of inquiry reinforces our interests, fuels our curiosity, and amplifies our identity and understanding in that direction. In a world today that is increasingly volatile, ambiguous and complex, the ideas and opinions that vie for our attention have compounded vastly beyond our abilities to digest intellectually, and thus the inquisitive choices we make become increasingly important in directing the shape of our ideas, our identities and our collaborative communities.

We need to follow the positive idea threads that matter to us, in context of our work, our play, and our lives. Appreciative Inquiry is the notion that we appreciate – add value to – the ideas and beliefs that we inquire of, and importantly that our questions are indeed creations. That is, each question we pose begets change, and what we anticipate in the world and in each interaction tomorrow, reflects our behavior and disposition today. Appreciative Inquiry respects Remedial and Diagnostic forms of organizational development, yet also presents a future path of positive change focusing on inspired innovation as opposed to focusing solely on correcting what isn’t working.

Diagnostic exercises such as “autopsies without blame” are surely useful at isolating and excising those practices and processes that failed, but arguably only add to the ever-increasing list of things we should not do. And remediating efforts, like finding the weakest link, can certainly work toward elevating those skills and behaviors that fall below the curve. But in this rapidly evolving economic landscape where next iterations, and emergent inspired-innovation represents real differentiating value, I believe that a more forward, positive and appreciative approach is needed. Basically I believe the world is moving too fast to spend most of our time fixing the old, we need to be creating the new.

We are seeing these developments in the emergence of positive institutions such as IDEO, the award-winning design firm. As IDEO engages their clients in their highly co-creative, rapid-prototyping process of design, they are simultaneously instructing and creating these capacities in the customers they work with. So even beyond the personal level of creating and affecting change by the questions we ask, we see whole organizations positively affect whole organizations simply by manner and behavior of interaction.

And so, craft your questions carefully, for they affect everyone they touch.