Appreciative Inquiry and The Resistance


We can invite people to join in God’s mission, but there will always be … resistance. Appreciative inquiry is a method used in all kinds of organizations around systems change — whether it’s working at the personal/individual level or at the broad/corporate level. What is working? And how can we do more of that to be more successful and/or happier? Whenever we ask ourselves these questions, there’s always resistance.

Resistance is something marketing guru Seth Godin speaks about quite often (see video below), but Rev. Dr. Rob Voyle gave me some interesting new insights into resistance. Voyle says that resistance, in his definition, is “a lack of imagination, the inability to imagine possibilities.”

Voyle says we are resistant (to change, new ideas, etc.) when:

  • we can’t see the value of the outcome
  • we don’t think the outcome is worth our effort
  • we have no input to the design of something

Voyle suggests one way we can transform resistance is to “become curious.” Ask questions, good questions. And ask questions about the future, not the past. (And I would add, ask the missional question: What is God’s preferable future?) The past is a closed system, but the future is an open system ripe with possibilities, if we can open ourselves and train ourselves to imagine them.




Tags: , , ,

Posted on 05-26-2011


  1. Dave Cooper says:

    May 26th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Agree with the need to develop open space and to inquire appreciatively with the expectant hope for prophetic imagination to emerge from collective cognition and emotion. Like a spiritual journey, it requires being fully present, sensing the emerging Power and collaboratively participating in shalom-making through the journey. See also Otto Scharmer’s Theory U and Adrian Pyle’s adaptation thereof.

  2. Steve K. says:

    May 26th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks, Dave! I’m familiar with Scharmer, but I’ll have to look into Adrian Pyle’s work further.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment via Facebook