2014 Appreciate Enquiry

Social scientist Joseph Grenny (2013:23) tells a story about Cold War Soviet leaders who chose to measure productivity by weight; since they refused to measure a capitalist thing like profit. In response, nail factories stopped producing nails that were needed for construction in favour of heavy railroad spikes that weren’t needed so much. When leaders saw the results they switched to measuring productivity numerically, at which point nail factories started to produce billions of useless tacks.So what is Grenny’s – and my – point here?

“Measurement…informs and drives behaviour.”

Soul Action believes we have a responsibility to test and retune our activity, dreams, behaviour, habits, our unconscious rhythms and assumptions against what God measures:

“This is how our hearts are lifted up to the Lord and recalibrated to be aimed at the kingdom of God.” (Smith 2013:15)

Appreciative Inquiry

In January 2014 Soul Action had the opportunity to gather 50 leaders from some of the 200 organisations we’ve worked with to take a four dimensional look at ourselves as part of an Appreciate Inquiry (AI), which as Bushe (2013) explains is a:

a method for studying & changing [groups, organizations, communities] that advocates collective inquiry into the best of what is in order to imagine what could be

Developed in the 1980’s, it felt like a good fit for Soul Action, since for a long time we’ve been emphasising how when the resources (best) people have are developed, they can address their own needs. The process involved the first two of four steps:

  • DISCOVERY: identifies what works well
  • DREAMS: envisions what would work well in the future
  • DESIGNS: plans and prioritizes would will work well next
  • DEPLOYS: implements and executes the proposed design

1. DISCOVERY: what is appreciated most

ai

2. DREAMS: God’s vision for future work

a) Strengthen What’s Happening

As instruments of personal growth and organisational transformation, Soul Action’s work should continue and be strengthened.

“By experiencing the learning and participating it gets consolidated inside of you.”

“The participation allows us to discover things for ourselves which transforms my thinking.”

b) Widen Soul Action’s Influence

A number of participants in the Appreciate Inquiry had dreams about the expansion of Soul Acton – in a way that has already begun in the Midlands – but into Africa.

“Our dream is that there would be more local network groups growing across KZN, South Africa and eventually Africa.”

Another potential area of expansion for Soul Action was to have more of a voice and influence in government, for example, in education or Counter Human trafficking.

“God wants to raise up Soul Action as a strong organisation to begin to have a voice at the government level.”

c) Initiate Church Leader Networks

There was a picture of the Church being a sleeping giant, which was linked to dreams about building bridges between the church and local communities, and encouraging more partnerships between churches.

“How does Soul Action bring NPO’s together without competition –imagine doing that for churches!”

There was acknowledgement of existing collaborative initiatives, e.g. Hope Market, alongside a real desire to dream for more.

“There is a desire to see Soul Action playing a role in uniting churches, helping the Church to be relevant to society, to get on board with integral mission through a change in their perspective.”

d) Giving Back

Several participants in the review felt God speak to them about “giving back” to Soul Action: organisationally, by contributing to the running of the Network, and personally, by investing in the lives of the Soul Action team through support and encouragement. Within days of the evaluation God provided a glimpse of these words being put into practice:

“We’ve made a decision to tithe 10% of any income received from Tour Durban to Soul Action…and we challenge fellow churches and / or projects to communicate their fundraising initiatives with each other, to support one another’s activities AND to share God’s provision with Soul Action!”

e) Interaction and Impact

It was felt Soul Action has a greater role to play in pooling and sharing resources. It currently happens amongst the 40 contributors to newsletters, but imagine NPO’s coordinating how they learn from, strengthen and work with each other.

“Could NGO’s in KZN coordinate their Kingdom efforts? We’re not at the moment. What would it look like? How can we start to learn from each other? It’s not worth trying to reinvent what others are doing well. How can we coordinate so there is no overlap and so that each area of integral mission is carried out in each area of KZN? Could Soul Action coordinate outcomes like this? We could get traction for the Kingdom like we’ve never seen before!”

It has been suggested that a quick and practical start would be to host a web-based database, but we suspect God has a bigger dream for collaboration than this.