People who are new to Appreciative Inquiry are extremely inquisitive – about problems, about conflict. How do we “handle” them with Appreciative Inquiry? How do we “manage” the interruptions? How do we find the “solutions”?
These questions resembled my own curiosity at the start of my Ai journey. As Director of Human Resources, much of my time was spend solving problems and resolving conflict. According to the Poetic Principle in Appreciative Inquiry, what we choose to concentrate on makes a difference. What aspects of a situation do we focus on?
Society, collectively, is taught to focus on the problem and only the problem. To forge ahead, we repeatedly make decisions to “do this or that” (referred to as either/or mentality). By viewing and operating in the world through an ‘either/or’ lens, we are limiting our view of reality to just two ways of seeing it; however, by adopting the Appreciative ‘both/and’ mentality – constantly asking ourselves and others ‘what might be…” – we open our world to endless possibilities and opportunities.
With the barrage of negative media that surrounds us, it is easy to lose sight of the good that transpires around us on a daily basis. Making the paradigm shift from either/or to both/and is no easy feat and requires mindful, daily practice and intention.
We each have our own journey to walk. As change agents, our purpose is not to ‘fix’ problems; rather our work is to guide others to celebrate what’s good, seek out opportunities, and dream of the possibilities.
Several years ago I saved a quote that, in this moment, reflects my thoughts and demonstrates the importance of remaining open, inquisitive and curious. “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” ~ Thomas Alva Edison
Have you made the shift? If so, how do you continue to practice a both/and mentality?
Kathy Becker, President
Company of Experts/Center for Appreciative Inquiry