This weekend I spent working on my presentation for the North Carolina Library Association’s biannual conference (to be delivered in two weeks–YIKES!!), and writing a paper for my MLIS program’s Management class. I was thinking about the concept of participatory culture, and that led me down a research rabbit hole, through the tech world, youth development world, theological world, and management world. I landed thinking about a term I’d heard in a leadership class with Maureen Sullivan at DC Public Library–appreciative inquiry. I couldn’t quite remember what it was, but I remembered that Maureen spoke of it so affectionately and carefully, I knew it was important.
Lo and behold, appreciative inquiry is the LIGHT! Case Western Reserve University has a whole institute devoted to it, and developed a website dedicated to it–The Appreciative Inquiry Commons. Reading through the material, I feel so uplifted! Language about systemic change and transformation that is truly transformative! Language that doesn’t shy away from the true spiritual impact of the work. Check this out (a definition contributed by a member of the AI Commons):
“[Appreciative Inquiry] deliberately seeks to discover people’s exceptionality – their unique gifts, strengths, and qualities. It actively searches and recognizes people for their specialties – their essential contributions and achievements. And it is based on principles of equality of voice – everyone is asked to speak about their vision of the true, the good, and the possible. Appreciative Inquiry builds momentum and success because it believes in people. It really is an invitation to a positive revolution. Its goal is to discover in all human beings the exceptional and the essential. Its goal is to create organizations that are in full voice!”
Cooperrider, D.L. et. al. (Eds) , Lessons from the Field: Applying Appreciative Inquiry, Thin Book Publishing, 2001, page 12.