Monday, November 16, 2015

Appreciative Inquiry in community settings

The following ten tips offer advice for successfully applying Appreciative Inquiry in community settings. They cannot substitute for a well-considered 4-D process. They are, however, guidelines to make certain that Appreciative Inquiry fits and is appropriately adapted to your community. In short, the tips can help bring out the best of your community members, helping them articulate a future that serves the greater good.
1)    “Communitize” your approach. Focus the AI process on what matters to the community. Choose a Change Agenda that
is broad, compelling, and consistent with your community’s overall culture and purpose. Remember that the only right way to do Appreciative Inquiry is a way that will work for your community members. Schedule meetings and projects during “down” times, or link to existing events that are meaningful to your community. Design a variety of processes that are attractive and accessible to the many people you want and need to be involved.
2)    Prepare committed champions. “You need both the key and the gas to make a car run,” said Marietta, citizen leader of Focus on Longmont. Take time up front to build commitment and congruence among your formal leadership (those with authority and resources, or the “key”) and the day-to-day project coordinators (those who will bring the process to life, or the “gas”). Cultivate multiple champions from around the organization, so that you’ll always have that base of support from both formal and informal leadership. Train them, so they understand both what they’re doing and why, so they’re comfortable discussing the process with others and getting them engaged.
3)  Be purposefully and radically inclusive. From the very beginning, invite generational, socioeconomic, and cultural diversity into everything, from project leadership to advisors to process participants. Intentionally bring subcommunities and subcultures together in the process. And be sure to offer a wide range of ways for people to participate to accommodate different work schedules, lifestyles, interests, languages, and needs. 

4)  Fan the affirmative flame. Never underestimate the power
of the positive. It engages people’s hearts and sustains their energy. Share the positive stories you collect over and over and over. Keep bringing people back to community strengths and successes. Appreciate and recognize people’s efforts as well as results, especially the efforts of the regulars and those who keep the momentum for change alive. 

5)  Keep reaching out with information and opportunities. With communities of hundreds or even thousands of people, never stop reaching out. Communicate everything. Keep experimenting with different ways of imparting information, always focusing on “what it means” and “what’s in it for everyone.” Create many, many, many different ways and forums for people to participate. Follow up with people who participate, and keep them informed. Engage the local media and create video, still, and written records of key events. Circulate them far and wide. Keep the process front-and-center for as long as possible. 

6)  Plan for continuity and transitions. Before you start the pro- cess, ask, If we were gone tomorrow, how would this continue? Then organize your Appreciative Inquiry around the answer. From the beginning, seek out and engage the people who have responsibility for the desired outcomes. Consider in advance what systems, structures, and funding mechanisms will be 
needed for the plan to be carried out and lead to positive results. Establish checkpoints in both the planning and the implementation phases. Regularly take inventory of achievements. Celebrate and publicize them.
7)  Invest the time, enjoy the return. Without question, whole- system community planning using Appreciative Inquiry is time intensive. It takes more time than you think, yet over and over again, community members say it was worth what
it took. After three years of leadership with the aging services planning process, Michele Waite reflected, “I had no idea how time-consuming this initiative would be; but still, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.” The more people you engage, the more time it takes. But the investment of time and energy in appre- ciative interviews and in having community members share stories and make meaning of their own data yields unimagi- nable benefits. When people hear the stories from their com- munity, they learn who they are and they see what they can become—personally and as a community. 

8)  Be open to what emerges. It is impossible to predict all the twists and turns you will encounter when using Appreciative Inquiry as a large-scale community-planning process. We have had more people show up than the room could hold. We have had naysayers ask for the microphone. We have had local media show up—sometimes to support, and other times to question a process. Some of these events are challenges to overcome, but most are extraordinary expressions of com- munity support and caring activism, calling forth the need 
to adapt and innovate. So be open and responsive to the new directions and opportunities that emerge along the way—and the people who bring them. You too may be surprised and in awe of the many gifted people who will work ceaselessly and in surprising ways for a better future in their communities. 

9)  Provide ongoing education and training in AI. Thorough train- ing in Appreciative Inquiry for project leaders and champions helps them make good choices as they design and lead their planning processes. The need for education does not stop there, however. Ongoing education and training is a key success factor for AI-based community planning. The more people who learn about AI, the better the change process will go. Consider offering educational opportunities tailored to community leaders as well as to various member groups. Throughout the planning process new people will join, and they can also benefit from training. Finally, once the plan is complete, community members will need new and different tools to maintain positive forward movement.
10) Make Appreciative Inquiry a daily practice. Appreciative Inquiry–based planning begins a process of community trans- formation that will continue only as long as it is nurtured. Continue to ask yourselves, How can we apply this to the everyday life of our community? Carmen Ramirez from Longmont said it well: “When we do as much inside our departments and organizations as we’ve done outside in the broader community, we’ll finally reap the whole benefit that Appreciative Inquiry has to offer.”

Source: Diana Whitney & Amanda Trosten-Bloom, The Power of Appreciative Inquiry (pages 260-263)

Story-telling that leads to a place of possibility

“Appreciative Inquiry is intentional inquiry and directed conversation and story-telling that leads to a place of possibility. Possibility is fresh, new, and sacred. The story is the genesis of all that is human. Societies are stories, as are companies, schools, cities, families and individuals. There are bricks and mortar and flesh and bones, but all of it comes from a story. Even the flesh and bones of one person comes from a story of two people uniting to form another. I can think of a many moments where groups reached a profound spot with Ai and touched a sense of freedom. Usually one person would say something like, "From what we heard in these stories, we could_..." and there follows a collective deep breath and then silence as people consider the new "we could". Possibility sits in the room as a space of silence and then thought fills the space. Where does the thought that enters at that time, which has a feeling of vitality and newness, come from? It does not come from the person who spoke because that person would not have developed that thought without the conversations that led to synapses firing in a certain way. The thought is not merely a product of the collective because an individual must form the thought. The thought comes out of relationship, conversation, and newly created images. This "thing called Ai" is one of the finest ways to experience the power of language and to hone our skills with words, ideas, and stories. There are times when the possibility is so stunning the group has to sit in silence if just for a couple ticks before saying, "well, yes, maybe, why not, let's do it." There must be a gap that arises in the field of the known to entertain the unbridled possibility of novelty. There is a break in the routine story and supporting conversations so something new can creep in. This is the opening where novelty can arise. With no gap, we only have the billiard ball predictability of continuity. The openness to new ideas is not coerced. People don't have to force each other to listen to other's ideas and possibilities: minds are opened because the nature of the stories are so compelling and energetic.” 

Steinbach, John. Contribution to the AI Listserve, July 2005

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Participants of the Pre-Capitular Assembly

Participants of the Pre-Capitular Assembly:

Manuel GORDEJUELA (Provincial  Treasurer)
John ASERBIRE (Assistant Provincial)
Deusdedit MJANKWI
Hilaire GUINKO
Bernard CHOWA
Joel OUEDRAOGO (Delegate Sup. Sudan)
Baptiste MAPUNDA
Fidelis DAMANA
Innocent MAGANYA
Vincent TRAN
Otto Katto
Antonio KOFFI
Bartholomew MROSSO (Delegate Sup. Tanzania)
Gerald CHARBANON (Delegate Sup. Uganda)
Charles OBANYA  (Provincial)
Felix J. PHIRI (Delegate Sup. Kenya)
Emmanuel BARONGO (Secretary)
Yago ABELEDO (Moderator)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Identity and Dream Identity

In any analysis and planning session for an organization, revisiting the organization’s identity (corporate identity) is an important starting point.  The basic question to bring out organizations identity tends to be:  WHO ARE WE? After a day’s introduction to the Appreciative Discernment, we looked at our identity as a Society.

Importance of Identity: Identity is important not only at organizational level but also at individual level as well.  Our Lord gives us a good example of individual identity. At the beginning of His public life the Holy Spirit confirmed his identity “you are my beloved son, with you I am well pleased” Mk 1:11. With this identity he faced the temptations in the desert. At his appearance at Nazareth, still in the power of the Spirit, He declared “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me” Lk 4:18.  With the awareness of his identity he gave himself fully to his ministry knowing what he was going to live for and what to die for. Both at personal and organization level, our identities are important as they frame our way of being in the world – establishing what we live for and what we die for.

Identity - Two Perceptions:  We can look at our Society as an Organization whose identity is fixed and complete, or as an organization with an identity that is incomplete and open to change transformation.

Dream Identity:  The later view of Society leads us into acknowledging that although some elements of our identity as a Society are constant, we are co-creators of the present and future identity of our Society. It leads us into awareness that we do not have only one future Identity ahead of us, but many future identities, and our role is to choose the one we want. In appreciative Discernment language; we looked at ourselves as active agents in the social construction of our identity.  In line with Appreciative Discernment Methodology we emphasized the importance of positive DREAM IDENTITY of our Society as an important building block in the construction of a good present and future identity.

Collage showing different images presented by the participants. Designed by Fr. Antonio Koffi

Images from the Natural World of Animals and Plants:  In our sharing and discussion on DREAM IDENTITY we were each asked by the facilitator to come up with images or emblems. We came up with a variety of images. Most of them were drawn form the natural world of animals and plants. We had a brief discussion on what each of the images that we chose could mean to our relationship among us as confreres, to our financial and material life, to our work and to our governance and leadership. For example; what could the life of Bees mean in the various dimensions of our life and work?

In our search for who we want to be and what we want to do, perhaps the natural world of animals and plants have floods of lessons for us, if only we paid more attention in considering our Society as a living Organism – if we looked at it from a bio centric perspective.

N.B. This is an echo of the session on our identity as a Society (our corporate Identity). It is not part of the official report of the session.

Fr. Charles Obanya


“The Appreciative Discernment Theory (ADT) sounds wonderful but where is the  of  the Cross?”

“The Church today is a church driven towards success, but success in the church means  embracing the Cross, that is  my option.”

“Life is a vicious cycle, we live at different moments that of failure and that of success this is all found in this theory of ADT (Appreciative Discernment Theory).

“ Be careful, ADT is not aiming solely at success or perfection as such, Missionaries of Africa is a human Institution therefore there is always an imperfection somewhere.”

“ ADT is a powerful theory but it must be well understood in order to bring good results, but should we know the weaknesses of the old theory?”

“There is fear in us of being good, we enjoyed to be in a messy situation, it is like  “if you wash a pig it goes back to its muddy place.”

“ If I change will I be of any success,  I am afraid to risk, so I am comfortable.”

“The reality of the dwelling place of God, the reality is the CROSS iin  our life individually or communally.”

“The paschal mystery in the ADT is found in the doing and sustaining our life, change is a cross.”

“ Instead of starting with a critical eye that ignores what works, we start from what goes well (which is positive)." (Superior General, Rome)

“What do you fear?”

“ I managed to conquer my fears, and I went into the mission.”

“ Being a missionary of Africa entails a risk.”

They told me you cannot manage because you have no money, no car, you don’t have a Ph.D, but I believed in myselfI made it.”

“The question you  need to ask yourself is “What can I do for my society and not what can the society do for me.”

“Let us give space to each other old and new.”

“I heard a lot of negativity about Poland, about Katakwi  but I overcame and went forward.”

“Mission is believing in God and in myself as well.”

“I got support from confreres or community and the people I served.”

“I took the drink as part of my integration into a cultural setting.”

“I go into  the mission with God, and prayer is the engine of my mission.”

“I believe in my giftedness”

“We want to discern a dream or vision for the future that stretches us beyond the good that is already present.”

“As missionaries of Africa we accept the responsibility  to be co-creators of our communities.” ( Pre-Capitular Doc from General Council  Rome).

“What are we doing?”

“We need to explore the world behind the image.”

“You cant  ask your grandmother to run the marathon.”

“As missionaries of Africa we are trained to discern,  to work, to pray and to live together like a family.”

“Animals have no images but they organize themselves and work well.”

“In order to relate well with one another in a healthy and mature way we need self-awareness.”

“Without the sense of universality the church will be no longer a church.”

“Without a cross the church become  a supermarket.” 
“In life you must be able to embrace your madness.”
“I have a dream.”

“Lack of proper and genuine consultation breeds  resentment and anger  whatnot.”

“If you cannot take risk just be prepared to fail.”

“Let us trust ourselves as regards to income  generating projects.”

“We  are  not serious and let us remove defense mechanisms.”

“I feel attacked for expressing the truth.”

“Enough is enough, we have spoken a lot on income generating projects now is time to act.”

“If you only accept what you like and reject what you don’t like then it is not gospel” (St. Augustino of Hippo).
“Mission is about love of Jesus of Nazareth and not about money”

“To aim building a good church  without forming good families is like aiming to build a beautiful house but on sand foundation.”

“We are like a neglecting father  who  distributes food  to  neighbor’s family but neglecting his own”

“We need to establish a “karibu community” as care for the needy brothers  especially those wounded  with addictions.”

“Proper care of needy brothers must begin in our own communities first.”

“You need to hit the rock bottom to realize that you are sick and you need help.”

“Let us listen to the hidden voice.”

“Today we have enough money, tomorrow we don’t have, how come?”

“We have no fund to support our apostolate, but we continue fishing money out what a contradiction.”

“We need to open doors to our Christians,friend and family members who want to support us now.”

     “Mission is all about passion for Jesus Christ and his people.”

“Political election is not enmity but only a process to get good leaders.”

“In mission we construct and reconstruct.”

“Positive focus leads to positive action.”

“During this 28th General Chapter, we ask for the openness of mind and heart filled with love, wisdom and courage.”

“How do we become apostolic community?”

“Lord grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot  change, Courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference” (AA).

“Love of Christ compels us and make us  his disciples.”

“The love of Christ enables us to consecrate our lives for proclaiming Him and his gospel.”

“Sit down and count your blessings instead of complaining all the time.”

“To have good and healthy community we need good community animators.”

“To love Jesus simply means detaching from ourselves completely and our material things.”

“Mega Provinces give provision for wider movements of confreres within the Province.”

“Great things still happens.”

 “The great miracle happening everyday is that aim alive.”

“Differences are accepted and integrated.”

“Our communities should be places of compassion and healing.”

“Using the ADT will help to understand individual projects positively  instead of fighting them.”

“Our Pastoral centers should produce prophetic voices.”

“Formation doesn’t end with ordination, but it begins with the first appointment.”

“Specialized studies today are not a favor but a need for every confrere.”

“For the care of  confreres let us create places of relaxation in each sector.”

“When we get wounded  in our mission then home is the best healer.”

“Sending a confrere home is not chasing him away, but a way of helping him.”

“The earth is, but the frozen echo of the silent voice of God.”

“In life  always learn how to land gently, slowly, but surely.”

“Meeting another person is stepping on holy ground.”

Quote/Joke from our evening outing recreation: Real meaning of Obama “Original Black African Managing America.”

“Let us take care of our language and vocabularies.”

"God  made man, and man made money, but money made man mad.”

“Darkness cannot drive darkness away, only light.”

“In living community life we need to acknowledge and value our differences.”

“What can we do about family apostolate and youth?”

“We didn’t receive the spirit of timidity, but of  being sons and daughters f of our loving Father.”

“The Power of the spirit makes us men of hope.”

“Let us put love above the law in our apostolic attitude and life.”

“How has God blessed you by being a member of Pre-Capitular?”

“Your are a blessing.”


Compiled by Quote’s Secretary Baptiste Regina Mapunda