Company of Experts, Inc.

Always Appreciating What's Good...

April 2012

Company of Experts Consulting Services


This month has flown by.  Last month we mentioned that we are going to the World AI Conference to present an important project -  a large scale inquiry (over 4000 people)  with an K-12 system in the US. We leave in two days as put this newsletter to bed!  


We are feeling the warmth of spring urging us to go outside an experience the goodness, that feeling you get when everything seems new. Change we love.  Before long it will be summer - in the desert. Change we might not love so much and some not at all.


The angst of change is all around of. More than a decade ago I recall an employee telling me, "I don't want any more change"!  I think we all feel that at times.


Jim Pulliam, who is a retired college president reflecting upon his leadership role, told me that so often the conversation centered around "things, buildings, material, resources. But, not much about what was most important - the collective WE. That is what he identified as the importance of an Inquiry - it is not necessarily about the outcomes, but about providing  VOICE".   What do you want more of?    Tell me a story?   It is about us, all of us." Our presentation focus  is Bibb County Schools and they are experiencing the positive and the negative of change.  They are getting quite a bit of press lately and we see this as a time to look at the larger picture of education in the U.S. and in the world - the urgency, the complexity and how out of balance we in our ability to collaborate and dialogue. What narrative do we want to be part of and to leave as our legacy?  We encourage you to read the short articles


"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." ~ Niccolo Machiavelli


Warmest Wishes,

~ Yours friends at the Company of Experts

Welcome to the AI Community!!

Company of Experts is pleased to introduce its newest Certified Appreciative Inquiry Facilitators (CAIF) to its growing AI family. 

The individual(s) listed below participated in our 4-day Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) program and submitted a practicum demonstrating their knowledge and application of Appreciative Inquiry. In reading their practicums, we are able to celebrate in their achievements and observe how Appreciative Inquiry has positively influenced their lives - personally and professionally.

New practicums are frequently posted to our blog, so check back often to see what new stories have been posted. Click here for more practicums.  

Words Creates Worlds
Better living through positive dialogue! Words Create Worlds

Read an issue of our "Words Create Worlds" (WCW) - a periodical compilation of success stories collected from AIFT participants from around the world. Words Create Worlds illustrates how AIFT participants have used words to help shape their world and the world of others - resulting in positive change.


If you wish to read our WCW publications, please click here.


Appreciating Mindfully
How does one stay true to the principles of AI when the "going gets tough"?


In the previous blog entry, I pondered how Appreciative Inquiry (AI), as a philosophy, transcends the duality of "positive" and "negative". On a slightly different note; however, I have been thinking how one might stay true to the principles of AI when the "going gets tough".


Say, for example, one experiences a number of challenges in one's life. For argument's sake, say a loved one dies, a relationship ends, one is in an accident, one is physically hurt, one's computer crashes days before a deadline is due, one's apartment floods, etc. Say all of these things happen pretty much at the same time (as it did for me). Can one stay honest AND inquire appreciatively into the situation? Is AI simply a nice perspective for sunshine days or is it a real life philosophy applicable in any given situation? Read Full Article>> 

Are the Words We Use Outdated?
Take a moment to reflect on the words you surround yourself with on a daily basis, has the meaning of these words changed?


Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a free webinar. While I found the webinar helpful, and the presenter engaging, there was one word that the presenter used that did not resonate well with me. This particular word still bothers me even after having a week to reflect on it.  As an employee, a graduate student in a management program, a labor union activist and later as a Human Resources Manager, I always found this word troublesome.  The word I am referring to is "subordinate". As an HR manager and union leader, I often encountered the word in contract negotiations, company handbooks, professional development articles, renowned publications, and conversations with executive leadership.


For the past several years I have had the opportunity to teach a 4-day Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training� (AIFT), offered by the Center for Appreciative Inquiry. Over the course of that time, I have learned how powerful language is. Language "can be inclusive, exclusive, demeaning, respectful, hostile, rewarding, judging, caring and oppositional.  It can incite and unite." As a result I am mindful of the words I use in my daily life - including electronically (e.g. email, text message, tweets), which can be easily overlooked. Read Full Article>> 

Empowerment through Recognition of Strengths
Great story about engaging executive management in powerful dialogue.

I was meeting with a group of 20 executives from management teams around USA. A few years ago several smaller companies we acquired by a major global organization. Almost 4 years later (now), this was the first time the leaders from the 5 smaller USA companies were finally getting together as part of the bigger company.

They asked me to facilitate a 1 1/2 day process to help them come together, find common goals for the USA group (800 employees among them) and see how mush they could advance on getting to know and trust each other. Read Full Article>>
Transforming Education - Starting the Dialogue

As we prepare for the World Appreciative Inquiry Conference (WAIC) 2012 presentation, we have received questions, what is the WAIC 2012? What is AI? What is the World Conference? Why in Belgium? What will the presentation include? Where is Bibb County? What happened at the Bibb County Schools Summit? We know many of you are interested in this conference and what to know more - this is fantastic news. This is the first conference that we are attending. We are so grateful for the opportunity to be selected as presenters! We feel so fortunate to have so many of you asked us to share what we learn. We will update this blog post with more information as we go. Our plan is to share our experiences and what we learn in Belgium. Read Full Article>>
Together We Can Raise the Bar
Let's revolutionize local and global education!

For those of you who are in education and attending the WAIC in Belgium, I encourage you to attend the session on the 4500 person summit that Bibb County Schools (Macon, GA) hosted to develop a strategic plan to design a new education system that works: The Macon Miracle.


This effort is highly controversial in the city where it is happening. It is charged to begin with because the new superintendent, Dr. Romain Dallemand, is creating transformative change-people resist radical change (that's natural). It is further charged by politics and race-in case any of you have seen or read the news coming from Macon, GA, USA.


The superintendent and his team are truly working for a miracle in systems change. They are leading at the systems level and Appreciative Inquiry and self-efficacy and positivity are at the heart of implementing evidence-based educational strategies, engaging the whole, and empowering students, teachers, parents, and administrators. But when people don't understand the concepts that are behind the changes, fear drives their actions. This is threatening a lot of folks, scaring a lot of folks, and totally confusing many. Read Full Article>>

Our Websites got Facelifts!
Check out the look and feel of our new websites

Company of Experts is pleased to announce the release of its new websites. Our websites have been redesigned with a fresh new look and have been updated with information about our latest products and services.

By updating our websites we are able to:
  • Improve navigation within and amongst each website to allow users to quickly find the content they are looking for;
  • Enhance support and provide information to answer your most common questions;
  • Update our website with relevant articles, resources, and events on a consistent basis.  
  • Provide a greater emphasis on the range of products and services we offer.
  • Expand ways in which we communicate with the World by embracing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Skype and other social media outlets.  

Our websites have the same url address. If you have our websites bookmarked, you may need to delete them and then re-bookmark our site. We invite you to browse our websites. While they are still in the process of having information added to them, we welcome feedback on how we can improve our websites to better serve you.


*NEW* Company of Experts, Inc. -- View New Website>> 

*NEW* Center for Appreciative Inquiry -- View New Website>> 

*NEW* Department Chair Institute (DCI) -- View New Website>> 

*NEW* Leadership Development Institute (LDI) -- View New Website>> 

New Workshops To Be Scheduled
Dates of new workshops to be announced soon...

Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry: Creating What Will Be
This two-day introduction Appreciative Inquiry (AI) workshop focuses on gaining an appreciation of Appreciative Inquiry and its applications.  The objective of this course is to strengthen the capacity of your use in participatory approaches at work or at home through the use of appreciative and assets-based approaches that encourage greater self-reliance, identification of local assets, and promotion of improved decision-making within groups, teams, and organizations as a whole. By combining theory and practice, this experiential workshop provides participants with the skills to change their personal and professional relationships.

Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner Training (AIPT)
In this highly experiential workshop, participants will become immersed in the practice of facilitating clients in identifying what gives life to their human systems in ways that build agile, adaptive and innovative organizations. Together, participants will experience an advanced community of practice where they can identify their personal strengths as AI facilitators, enhance their contracting skills, and expand their capacity to design and lead AI initiatives that result in accelerated, sustainable change with measurable outcomes. Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences and participate in dialogues drawn from their actual experiences while in the field.
Appreciative Inquiry Resources
Curiosity leads to growth, inspiration, and innovation
  • Positive Renewal: Can You Even Keep Going? (Case Western) Leadership is hard, but can be very rewarding. Fortunately, the human body and mind have a built mechanism for renewal in the experiences of hope, mindfulness, compassion and playfulness. 
  • Building Critical Thinking Skills to Enhance Employee Comprehension and Decision Making (Majorium) Through inquiry, employees can use questions to help foster a deeper understanding of material, information, key concepts or issues.    
  • Embracing What's Wrong to Get to What's Right (HBR Blog) When you acknowledge that status quo or the old way is no longer working, it makes room for innovation; creativity; and opportunity. Appreciative inquiry (focusing on what's right) helps you move from old methods of thinking to create inspiring, collaborative processes that empower others.
  • Active and Passive Learning in Organizations (The Performance Improvement Blog) Engaging your staff through action learning techniques, such as appreciative inquiry, is a great way to help them understand their roles and how they support the organization's goals.
  • Helping, Fixing, or Serving? (Daily Good) Did you know there's a difference between helping, fixing, and serving? Service is not an experience of strength or expertise; service is an experience of mystery, surrender and awe. Appreciative Inquiry has been used successfully to help organizations, leaders, and staff serve others.
  • Train Your Brain to Focus (HBR Blog) Tame your focus, apply the brakes, and shift your mindset---the 3 steps to gaining better clarity. Appreciative inquiry is another tool that can help you and the organization you work for gain clarity and focus. 
Save the Dates...
October 17-19, 2012 ~ NCSPOD 2012 Annual Conference

Think it's too early to consider next year's North American Council for Staff, Program, and Organizational Development (NCSPOD) annual conference? Think again! NCSPOD will be in Rockville, MD, at the Rockville Hilton Hotel, which is a mere 8 miles from the White House. NCSPOD conferences are family-friendly, offering meal tickets for guests so that they can share meals and special events and excursions with you during the conference. While you are in programs and meetings, guests can enjoy the sights and attractions of Washington and, with some advance planning, so can you. Use this opportunity to extend your stay and see DC.

The November Blast! included a top-ten list of things to do in DC. Transportation to and from DC sights will be easy to arrange. The Twinbrook Metro Station is located adjacent to the hotel and is readily accessible to the museums, monuments, and other places of interest in Washington, DC.
Market Research Opportunity
Department of Veteran Affairs is seeking vendors.

Department of Veterans Affairs, Employee Education System (EES) is conducting "Market Research" ONLY for the Educational services of a vendor who facilitation methodology is relevant and has immediate and direct real-life applications that have specifically tailored to the unique culture within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). The purpose of the Joint VA/DOD Airborne Hazards Symposium is to disseminate lessons learned to health care teams (and other stakeholders) and bring key subject matter and policy experts together to guide a joint response on post-deployment health related issues that is being developed jointly by the two Departments.


The contractor shall provide all labor, supervision and other resources required to Facilitate VA and DOD staff involved in treatments regarding Airborne Hazards in Formulating communications to inform current practices and improve future efforts In environmental exposure assessment, clinical surveillance, medical testing, and Research, ultimately improving the health of our deployed forces. Three (3) Facilitators are needed for this event. This event, The Joint VA/DOD Airborne Hazards Symposium, is tentatively scheduled for August 7, 8, and 9, 2012 in the Washington DC or Baltimore, MD area.


If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, please contact Brenda Bowder at no later than Tuesday, May 1, 2012.

Become a Host for our Trainings
We offer incentives to hosting organizations for their hospitality

Company of Experts is seeking host organizations throughout the world to host any of our trainings (Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT), Department Chair Institute (DCI), and Leadership Development Institute(LDI)). To show our gratitude, host organizations receive two complimentary registrations for a training held on their site when minimum enrollment is met.
Host organizations may limit the training to people at their organization or it can be open to others. If the training is open, Company of Experts partner with the host organization to help promote the training.  
Please contact Kathy or Heather for more information.

Webinar Recordings On-Demand
Providing professional development tidbits on-the-go!

Company of Experts' webinar recordings provide you with the opportunity to learn at a time and place that is most convenient. Gather a group in a conference room or listen at your desktop when it works with your schedule. Company of Experts' webinar recordings are available for download which can be replayed as often as you wish and can be shared with with your colleagues and friends.


To view a list of our webinar recordings, please click here

In This Issue
Welcome to the AI Community
Words Create Worlds©
Appreciating Mindfully
Are the Words We Use Outdated?
Empowerment through Recognition of Strengths
Transforming Education - Starting the Dialogue
Together We Can Raise the Bar
Our Websites got Facelifts!
New Appreciative Workshops Developed!
Appreciative Inquiry Resources
Save the Dates - NCSPOD 2012 Conference
Market Research Opportunity
Become a Host for our Trainings
Free Downloads
Recent Tweets
Online Videos Worth Watching
Visit Our Websites
Free Downloads:
Leadership Excellence (March 2012) - Highlighting Appreciative Inquiry
By: Various Authors 

The Neuroscience of Leadership
By: David Rock & Jeffrey Schwartz

Aligning Strengths Through Appreciative Inquiry
By: Nancy Stetson

Managing with the Brain in Mind
By: David Rock
Upcoming Events:
Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Corning, New York 
Dates: June 5 - 8, 2012
Early Bird Discount Ends May 5, 2012 - space still available! 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada 
Dates: July 17 - 20, 2012 

Smart Grant Writing
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Dates: July 25 - 27, 2012 

Department Chair Institute (DCI)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Dates: July 30 - August 1, 2012  

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Reno, Nevada 
Dates: August 14 - 17, 2012 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Cape Town, South Africa 
Dates: August 27 - 30, 2012 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada 
Dates: September 24 - 27, 2012 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Rockville, Maryland 
Dates: October 15 - 17, 2012 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Kingwood, Texas  
Dates: Oct. 29 - Nov. 1, 2012 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada 
Dates: November 5 - 8, 2012 

View Company of Experts' Entire Event Calendar here >>
Recent Tweets

@ExpertCompany: Create a culture and community where time is not wasted, opinions are shared freely and honestly, individuals are...  


@ExpertCompany: You flex your management muscle all the time; now it's time to learn how to flex your leadership muscles.  


@Center_For_AI: All communication problems r because we don't listen to understand. We listen only to reply. Act of the day: authentically listen to others


@Center_for_AI: How do great leaders weather a perfect storm? They change the way the look at the weather...  


@Center_for_AI: "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is, INFINITE." --William Blake TY @youCANchoose_ for the gr8 quote


@ExpertCompany: Bypass the Business Buzzwords. There's much more power and clarity in simple communication.  
Videos Worth Watching

Whole Systems Healing - Interview with Diana Whitney  

Description: An interview with Diana Whitney about Whole Systems Healing and Appreciative Inquiry.


Appreciative Inquiry in the Working Place 

Description: Prof. John Hayes discusses Appreciative Inquiry and its use in the workplace.  


Appreciative Inquiry in Churches 

Description: a temporary pastor talks about using Ai as a way to transition from old 'traditional' ways to developing a new culture and selecting a new minister

Expert on Call Spotlight
Kathy Becker, Company of Experts President

Kathy Becker, is the president of the Company of Experts, Inc. With over thirty years of professional experience in K-12 and higher education, she has served as a Human Resources Officer, Staff Development Coordinator and Equal Employment Opportunity Officer. She has had direct responsibility for labor contract negotiations, sexual harassment training, discrimination investigation, mediation and conflict resolution, discipline and grievance, professional training and leadership development.  


Kathy is a trained Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator/Trainer and incorporates AI into her consulting and training. With her background in the public and private sectors as well as a strong commitment to customer service and developing learning organizations, Kathy brings real-world experience to her consulting, trainings, and workshops.   


In 2011, Kathy won the Helen Burnstad International Leadership Award at the 2011 NCSPOD Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Helen Burnstad Award recognizes Kathy's  significant contributions in writing, research, leadership, and advocacy that promotes the goals of staff, program, and/or organizational development at the national or international level in higher education. Learn More>   


Interested in becoming an Expert on Call? Learn more here. 

Inspirational Quotes

"Your life is the sum result of all the choices you make, both consciously and unconsciously. If you can control the process of choosing, you can take control of all aspects of your life. You can find the freedom that comes from being in charge of yourself." 

~ Robert Foster Bennett 


"Life experiences set our beliefs. Our beliefs cause us to attribute value; what we value motivates ourselves. And when leaders understand what motivates, unexpected and exceptional results follow."    

~ Author Unknown 


"Redefine your self-concept by challenging everything that you've held to be true about yourself up until now. Be open to examining everything you've previously thought limited you in any way. Affirm: I place no limits and no restrictions on all that I intend to accomplish and become from here on in." 

~ Dr Wayne W. Dyer 

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