Monday, November 16, 2015

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

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