Recently I had the opportunity to participate in one of David Cooperrider’s famous Appreciative Inquiry summits. The premise of an AI Summit is to harness the brilliance of group intelligence and core strenghts to solve problems and create substantial and lasting change within organizations. My experience of the process itself was mind blowing and the results, completely unexpected. The formula depends on gathering 100 or so constituents together from all different backgrounds, life experiences and expertise over a period of 2 to 3 days and putting them through an intense and collaborative process that opens “the group” up to new ways of thinking. The organization that is the focus of the process walks away with a strategy and a plan for implementation and ongoing execution. There were more than a few aspects of this summit that I found particularly compelling. Below I’ve summarized a few of my own take-aways that we can apply right away to reach breakthrough solutions:
1. Ask questions and listen to answers: Often we are so eager to talk about ourselves that we forget to ask questions of others and let others talk. Appreciative Inquiry at its core involves the practice of asking questions that strengthen the group’s ability to apprehend and heighten positive potential. The best learning comes from listening. The simple act of listening can lead you to think differently.
2. Keep asking “why” about the thoughts you have, the opinions you settle on and the decisions and choices you make. Asking “why” over and over again will lead you to distinguish between making decisions based on emotion versus making decisions that are in the best interests of your business. Try not to judge yourself throughout this process.
3. Offer assistance: Helping others is the fastest way to grow because when you help someone else, they have an automatic instinct to reciprocate. Reciprocation may not happen immediately and it may not happen directly, but once you embrace the idea of servicing others, you become part of a positive energy force that will result in others’ helping you.