This post is about inquiry intelligence – our capacity to release potential – one of 12 evolutionary intelligences identified by Marilyn Hamilton in her Integral City work (click here for her web site, here for her book). Her work is based on the premise that cities are intelligent human systems. I share that belief and her quest to unlock the potential of cities.
The essence of inquiry intelligence lays in appreciative inquiry, a practice of exploring that integrates many perspectives. It is a practice that looks for surprise. In cities it is a practice that notices what works in our cities, the things of which we would like more. Our potential lies in what is working and the new paths that will emerge.
We get more of what we put our attention to, so stopping to notice what we appreciate in our cities is a good practice. It serves two purposes – we recognize what works and we recognize what we want more of.
Inquiry intelligence takes this wisdom and looks at it with curiosity. When I began the Nest City posts I explored the nature of work, and how we regularly look for new ways of thinking, making and doing new things. This is inquiry intelligence at work.
Marilyn Hamilton flags how questions play a key role in unlocking the potential of cities. Particularly questions that are appreciative in nature. Asking a question such as, ‘What are the strengths of your city?’ will reveal what Hamilton calls the ‘cadence’ of the city, when we are able to see the variety of values evident in how we see and experience the city.
To see our potential, let alone achieve it, we need to create the conditions that allow us to see what works and what we want more of, and to inquire about what our cities naturally need next.
The power of inquiry is simply in asking and exploring questions, endlessly. It is a key intelligence that brought our cities to where they are today because it is a learning intelligence. It allows us to know and understand things differently. Inquiry nourishes our selves and our cities.
Tomorrow’s post will explore meshing intelligence, our capacity to hold both order and creativity simultaneously.