The first time I met David Cooperrider I shared how Appreciative Inquiry helped us understand why Generative Journalism was creating constructive change for our clients, and how it deepened our practice. We’ve been framing our inquires and stories with the help of AI for over 10 years. In that moment he invited me to write a chapter in an upcoming book. His readiness to expand the circle and be inclusive was inspiring.
In years since David has supported ongoing storytelling as an element of post-summit infrastructure. In Cincinnati I was stunned by his ability to allow a design team of 50 or so people to completely stall and stay in their inquiry. I thought I was watching a disaster. I asked David if a change of strategy might be in order: rather than coming up with a system-changing calling question, maybe we ought to start with enlivening the independent strengths in the room. While pensively watching the room struggle he shared with me how a community needs a point outside of its current reality to bring those strengths into motion and collaboration. We’ve been conscious of the use of ‘points outside the system’ in our inquiries ever since.
Over lunch one day, a day in which David was incredibly generous with his time, we were discussing the work of discovering strengths in people, organizations and systems as an approach to constructive journalism. He said, it’s about even more than discovering strengths these days, it’s about discovering where the energy is in a system. Another clinker. Where is the energy in the system? In this story? In our inquiries and questions?
We’re no United Nations, we are a small firm focussed on grassroots stories. David has made his mark even in the small places like this one and he’s done so directly.
When I heard that Champlain College was opening a centre for Appreciative Inquiry I couldn’t help but be appreciative.
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