“Human systems grow in the direction of what they persistently ask questions about.” - David Cooperrider
I have been thinking a lot recently about the power of questions in creating meaningful change in organizations. I posted earlier about taking a 6 week online class about Appreciative Inquiry. One of the principles of AI states that questions and change are not separate things. They happen simultaneously. One of the most important things that we can do in bringing about change is to develop and ask good questions.
So, if human systems grow in the direction of their persistent questions, what sorts of questions should we be asking?
- Our budget has been cut again. How can we do more with less?
- How can we show that we still have value?
- How can libraries avoid obsolescence?
If these are the types of questions that we regularly ask at our institutions and our professional organizations and conferences then we are in trouble. If these are the questions that focus us, then we will constantly be thinking about proving our worth, avoiding budget cuts, and our eventual demise. We’ll be focused on fear as opposed to actually providing value and doing good. We need better questions.
- How can we create amazing experiences everyday for our users?
- How can we develop our students into expert questions-askers?
- How can we make our libraries invaluable and irreplaceable in our communities?
- How can we nurture abundant curiosity?