Ki Moments Blog

Support for life’s “key” moments.

July 31, 2018

Appreciative Inquiry and Positive Framing

Appreciative Inquiry and Positive Framing


I was interviewed last month by Tom Rosenak of Diamond Mind in Evanston, Illinois. Tom helps people engage in transformative conversations in order to strengthen relationships and drive results. You can hear or download our interview, Conflict Transformation and Aikido on the Diamond Mind site.

Tom's podcasts arrive every couple of weeks, and I highly recommend his interview with Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres on their new book, Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement.

Jackie and Cheri are internationally known for their work in Appreciative Inquiry (AI), a problem-solving tool introduced in 1987 by David Cooperrider, known for his contributions in the fields of leadership, change management, and organization development. Interestingly, AI solves problems by focusing on the question "What do you want?" and not on the problem, maximizing the power of noticing what is already working rather than on what is broken.

Positive Framing and Generative Questions

AI practitioners know that as soon as you align with the positive, you gain energy and move toward a compelling future. In aikido, for example, we use AI every time a beginner learns a new technique. Invariably, the new technique is easier to do on one side of the body than the other. Instead of trying to fix the “bad” side, the instructor tells the student to focus on the “good” side, the side that can do the technique effortlessly. Since that side knows how to do it, aikido instructors say to “let the good side teach the other side.” 

conversations-worth-havingBy focusing on what you want instead of what you don't want--in conflict, culture change, teambuilding, relationships, anything!--you begin to ask "generative questions," another AI principle. Generative questions search for what's possible, invite diverse opinions and new information, and stimulate creativity. They "generate" energy by looking at what's working and seeking more of it. As we look for a more positive future, these images influence our search.

I ordered Conversations Worth Having as soon as I finished listening to the authors' interview. Personally, I focus on problems more often than I like, and I need these reminders to imagine a future with those problems solved. I want to direct my energy toward what's possible and  help bring it about. How about you?

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