Appreciations in Critique

I’ve been reading Scott Belsky’s book Making Ideas Happen, a great book for all of us creative types (yeah, I’m talking about you).  One of the concepts the book discusses is the idea of using Appreciations.  Having learned the process in a story telling seminar, Belsky has become quite the proponent of using appreciations at the beginning of any review or critique process.

The idea is that your creative team starts off by sharing what they appreciate about whatever it is that they are reviewing.  Rather than poking and prodding the creative work, the discussion is focused on the strengths of the work being offered for review.  As the group shares what they most appreciate about the work, the focus of the creator(s)’s efforts is placed on strengthening the best parts of the work, typically minimizing the weaker parts of the project.  Scott shares a quote from Jay O’Callahan that has really gotten me thinking about the way we go about critiquing our work:

It is strange that, in our culture, we are trained to look for weaknesses.  When I work with people, they are often surprised when I point out the wonderful crucial details- the parts that are alive.  If our eyes are always looking for weakness, we begin to lose the intuition to notice the beauty.

The process reminds me of a blog post of Bob Logan’s sharing his seminary preaching experiences.  He found that when he worked with a coach who affirmed his strengths, he became more comfortable with preaching… and better at it.  I wonder, as we begin to exhale from the intensity of the Easter season, what if we were to begin our reviews of what went on yesterday morning based on appreciations, rather than focusing on what went wrong?  Perhaps, instead of pointing out awkward transitions, verbal gaffes, and off-key worship team members, we base our conversations on the perfect transitions, statements well said, and worship songs that worked well.

How do YOU review YOUR Sunday morning services?


About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through MinistryBriefing.com and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.