The Appreciative Way
Discover the essentials of the
Appreciative Way in this fast
read format book by Rob and
Practical Appreciative Inquiry based strategies to effectively resolve grief and resentment.
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What People Say
Rob Voyle has an amazing ability to frame and express Appreciative
Inquiry for all of us.
Christopher Szecsey, Senior Associate Social Impact, Inc.
Rob and Kim's Appreciative Way series is an excellent group of tools to
help you create an appreciative life. Rob and Kim combine a deep
understanding of the theory of Appreciative Inquiry with their pastoral
skills. All the guides are participant and facilitator friendly; lots of
examples and exercises. I recommend their work as a way to define a
purpose centered life, community and church.
Sue Hammond, Author Thinbook of Appreciative Inquiry
The Appreciative Way Synthesis
The Appreciative Way Synthesis
While Appreciative Inquiry, Milton Erickson, Steve Andreas, and Contemplative Spirituality are distinct, they do share some underlying commonalities that allow them to be integrated and used synergistically to create strategies for transformation and development. All four approaches are essentially positive in their view of humanity and place considerable importance on what we focus on.
A Positive View of Humanity
The Appreciative Way is essentially optimistic and has a positive view of humanity. This positive view of humanity – made and blessed in the image of God – contrasts with the “total depravity” theologies of many religions. Although Appreciative Inquiry, Erickson and Andreas would not use theological language to describe humanity, they see people as resourceful, having within themselves the potential and ability to live creative and fulfilling lives. The task of all four approaches is to call forth that inherent creativity and goodness from people.
The Importance of Focus
The second assumption of Appreciative Inquiry says, "What we focus on becomes our reality." In Buddhist thinking this understanding of focus is called "right seeing. Enlightenment is primarily about seeing things differently. The world doesn't change when a person becomes enlightened – and yet while nothing has changed, everything is different. Likewise, there are many occasions in the Bible when the reader is admonished to "behold" that is, to look or pay attention to certain things. The Ericksonian and Andreas approach provide many practical ways to reframe, or focus differently on, perceived problems.
In contrast to much of the therapeutic world which focuses attention of "coming to terms with our past" the appreciative way focuses on "coming to terms with our future." You and I will spend the rest of our lives in the future. If we are not working on co-creating our preferred future we will be the victim of someone else's future. Unfortunately, many people spend their time on trying to mend their past rather than create their future.
While future oriented the Appreciative Way is not avoidant of the past. It views the past as a wonderful treasure trove of resources that people and organizations can use to create their future. Rather than viewing past difficulties from the perspective of a victim the Appreciative Way focuses on how the person survived and how these resources could be used to help the person or organization create a thriver narrativeby creating a preferred future.
In Appreciative Inquiry the final phase of a the 5D model of development is often called the "Destiny" phase in which the organization works on manifesting their destiny or preferred future. Erickson and Andreas focus their efforts on resourcing people to achieve desired outcomes.
Contemplative spirituality teaches that the path to the future is found by living fully in this present moment. While very focused on the "now" contemplative spirituality does rely on a vision of the future such as the Kingdom of God to inform the experience of the present moment.
While focused on the future what each of these approaches doesn't do is spend time looking back and trying to fix the past.
Focus on Solutions not Causes of Problems
In their own way each of these approaches focuses attention on solutions to problems not the causes of problems. David Cooperrider the founder of Appreciative Inquiry says "we need to discover the root cause of success and not the root cause of failure."
Unfortunately in our society we often have eloquent descriptions of problems masquerading as solutions. These descriptions often help us feel better because we understand "what's wrong" but feeling better and having a solution are two very different things.
Erickson and Andreas are very focused in their work on creating life-giving outcomes often without any reference to the cause of the presenting problem. The healing stories of Jesus are also outcome focused. When asked who was to blame for a person being born blind Jesus dismissed the idea of blame and saw the blindness as an opportunity for the glory of God to be manifested in the man's healing (John 9:2-3).
The Power of Language
How we use language to create a sense of reality is a key element of each of these approaches. Appreciative Inquiry is built on a foundation of social constructionism. People create a shared understanding of reality by the stories they tell and the language they use to describe their hopes and dreams for the future.
Erickson and Andreas are masters at the subtle yet transforming power of changing aspects of language such as tense, verbs, metaphors to create reframes and ways to create more resourceful behavior and perspectives.
Read more on the Appreciative Way synthesis applied to coaching
Training in The Appreciative Way
We provide a wide range of Appreciative Inquiry, Coaching, and Leadership Training Programs that are based in the Appreciative Way
Our training programs are designed for people who want to grow in their understanding of the Appreciative Way and who want to use their spirituality in their work and daily life. They are especially designed for:
- Psychologists and Counselors
- Spiritual directors
We offer a blend of residential intensives and teleconferences to train you to appreciatively use your gifts for the benefit of others.
Appreciative Way Training
The Appreciative Way Series
The following are some of our Appreciative Way published resources that are currently available.
- Core Elements of the Appreciative Way
The foundational synthesis of the core elements of designing and creating positive change.
- Restoring Hope Appreciative Strategies to Resolve Grief and Resentment:
The appreciative way is used to rapidly and sustainably resolve, painful memories, grief, and resentment.
- Yes!3 A small group process designed to grow an appreciative culture within a congregation by having parishioners use the appreciative way to discern and live their God-given purpose.
- Assessing Skills and Discerning Calls
A complete guide for the clergy search process. It includes how to create and lead an appreciative summit to develop the search profile and how to use appreciative strategies in the interviewing and discerning process.