Saturday, May 24, 2008

Appreciative Inquiry at Lambeth?

So, is this a move away from the Delphi Method that ECUSA is so well known for? Appreciative Inquiry sounds so much more civilized and sophisticated.

From The Lead at the Episcopal Cafe [boldface mine]:

Andrew Gerns, a member of the news-team here at the Lead, is thinking that he sees evidence that there's a plan unfolding for this summer's Lambeth conference. But he's thinking it's not going to be business as usual, since doing things the "normal" way is what has gotten us to the loggerheads we're at today.
"Since 2003, the Anglican Communion, and all the Instruments of Unity together and separately have shown us that we cannot legislate our way out of this, and that diplomatic solutions are at best provisional. The Windsor Report is a disaster precisely because it attempts to solve a problem structurally that is at heart a theological problem. But it did not spring out of nowhere.

Progressives have tended to go about solving problems by way of organizing and creating legislative and judicial solutions to theological and moral problems. And, in my view, the reasserters have gone wrong because they have attempted to impose a competing, conciliar (structural and political) solution to solve what they fundamentally see as a theological problem. . .

Andrew suggests that by way of response, the design team has decided to intentionally incoporate the principles of Appreciative Inquiry into the proceedings of the conference. . .

Read it all.
But "What is 'Appreciative Inquiry'?" you ask. Well, according to its write-up in Wikipedia:
Appreciative Inquiry is a particular way of asking questions and envisioning the future that fosters positive relationships and builds on the basic goodness in a person, a situation, or an organization. In so doing, it enhances a system's capacity for collaboration and change. Appreciative Inquiry utilizes a 4-stage process focusing on:
  • DISCOVER: The identification of organizational processes that work well.

  • DREAM: The envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.

  • DESIGN: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well.

  • DESTINY (or DELIVER): The implementation (execution) of the proposed design.
The basic idea is to build organizations around what works, rather than trying to fix what doesn't. It is the opposite of problem solving. Instead of focusing your energy on fixing the 0.0001% that's wrong, AI focuses on how to create more of what's already working. The approach acknowledges the contribution of individuals, in order to increase trust and organizational alignment. The method aims to create meaning by drawing from stories of concrete successes and lends itself to cross-industrial social activities. It can be enjoyable and natural to many managers, who are often sociable people.

There are a variety of approaches to implementing Appreciative Inquiry, including mass-mobilized interviews and a large, diverse gathering called an Appreciative Inquiry Summit (Ludema, Whitney, Mohr and Griffin, 2003). Both approaches involve bringing very large, diverse groups of people together to study and build upon the best in an organization or community.

AI has been used extensively to foster change in businesses (a variety of sectors), health care systems, social profit organizations, educational institutions, communities, local governments, and religious institutions.

I have a very bad feeling about this!

1 comment:

Matthew said...

It's a process that is designed to stifle dissent. It's also designed to forestall any resolution or decision at all. Explicitly so.

For those who like meetings, such as, for example, the majority of Episcopal bishops (who are former middle management). Lambeth will be quite jolly. For those bishops who are used to actually deciding things, or for those for whom meetings are not an end in themselves, Lambeth will be quite wretched.