“How can we design the social architecture of our organizations and communities so that our most cherished values are embedded in the underlying design (i.e., the relationships, practices, programs, processes, products, services, policies, communications and technology)?” – Diana Whitney, Creating Dynamic Destinies, Appreciative Inquiry Conference in Vancouver February 15-16, 2007.
This is the invitation of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) – the study of what gives life to human systems when they are at their best, and a process for translating ‘our best’ into the design of positive futures. The foundations of AI are:
- Wholeness – giving all stakeholders whose future is affected an equal voice.
- Story – engaging people in a narrative-rich exchange of personal experience to foster learning and deepen respect across boundaries of differences.
- Relationships – providing opportunities for people to make meaning together – and from a positive core, to discover how to co-create a desired future.
I feel privileged to have shared two intense days of learning and connection through a conference design that modelled how a social architecture can inevitably lead us to ‘live our most cherished values’ – intimate conversation even in large groups, supportive community, goal-setting grounded in our deepest values, and committed action based on voluntary, self-authored effort.