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Words Create Worlds ® 

April 2015

Company of Experts Consulting Services

I cannot stop thinking about Nepal! Days after the massive earthquake hit, help is beginning to arrive in Nepal. Many of the victims are in hard to reach, rural mountain areas. In addition to their remoteness, many do not have access to the heavy equipment needed to move the mountains of brick or mud from their homes or streets. As a result, they are still sleeping outside, have scarce food and water supply, and no electricity.

With the steady stream of news coverage following the earthquake, we are learning how hard it is to live apart from our friends - not being able to connect with the people you worry about who are directly impacted by this natural disaster.

Ezelle Theunissen and I have been working with a large team in Asia for nearly a year as part of our work with the Center for Appreciative Inquiry. This team is made up of smaller teams from several Asian countries, including Nepal.  Just one month ago Ezelle and I were in Nepal meeting with this team - reacquainting with familiar faces, as well as making new friends.

Each day Ezelle and I wait anxiously for news that someone we know is safe. We have become fixated with WhatsApp, a text messaging app, which has allowed our friends to update their status. Today's text messages consist of: "my village is destroyed," "In Bhaktapur area for food distribution," and "children and the infirmed having to be outside and in the rain without drinking water and sanitation". Yet, we hear again and again that the people's love and emotional support has been enormous. This story is not about us, rather how we might help, when we feel so helpless.

With most of the World still in an economic funk, it may be hard for to financially donate; yet, there are other ways to help Nepal earthquake victims.

" When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better." - Pauline R. Kezer

Kathy Becker,
Company of Experts/Center for Appreciative Inquiry 
Welcome to the Ai Community

Company of Experts is pleased to introduce its newest Certified Appreciative Inquiry Facilitators and/or Coaches to its growing AI family. 

The individual(s) listed below participated in our 4-day Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) and/or our 5 day Appreciative Inquiry Coaching Training (AICT) 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.


  • Patti Silbert, "Building a Community of Practice with a Multi-Disciplinary Team of Health Science Students"
  • Carol Vicker, "I Am My Unique Self"
  • Clay Deighton, "AI in Conflict Management: Turning Conflicting Priorities into Collaborative Effort"
New practicums are frequently posted to o ur blog, so check back often to see what new stories have been posted. Click here for more practicums.  
My Adventures with Appreciative Inquiry (in Las Vegas)
I first heard about Appreciative Inquiry years ago, on a Google rabbit trail. You know what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the rabbit trail that sometimes leads us to discover information about botched celebrity plastic surgeries, or some random tidbit of 'knowledge' about the lifecycle of a weevil or bed bug.

Well, the Google rabbit trail I wandered down all those years ago was a gooder. It didn't lead me to a bunch of useless, negligibly interesting information that tends to clog up my already trivia-filled brain. It led me to learn about a concept that has had huge positive, life-changing, paradigm-shifting implications in my life. It led me to taking a recent trip to Las Vegas, more on that in a bit.

First off, I think that some people might find the term "Appreciative Inquiry" a bit dry and technical. If that's where your brain went, I assure you, it's not a dry or technical concept.

I like to equate the word "appreciate" to value, prize or revere. Those words feel rich to me. "Inquiry" is about discovering, envisioning and dreaming with innovation about what can be-right now.

The truth is the western culture focuses so much on deficits. What's wrong? How can we fix this problem? What's stopping this from being the best it can be? Why aren't I/you living to my/your full potential?

I could go on and on here, but I'm sure you've heard similar queries. Basically I'm saying that the whole idea of problem-solving is flawed. This mindset, or paradigm, is based on seeing the glass half empty. The truth is that when we approach things from a problem-solving paradigm, we keep ourselves tied to the problem.

Freedom is big for me. There is no freedom when we are tied to a problem. 
Read Full Article>> 
Why You Should Question Success Just as Much as Failure
We seem to only question failure when we should really study our successes. What worked well? How can we replicate it?


Success and failure are very different concepts, but they've got something in common: Both are often missed opportunities.


No one likes to fail. Organizations tend to treat falling sales or slow product launches as catastrophes. "We might like the rhetoric of trial and error, but the culture is more often than not trial and terror," says John Danner, a management consultant and professor, and coauthor of the new book The Other "F" Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work. Blame gets batted about and people distance themselves from the debacle. A better choice? Try to be rational about failure and "reflect on what it's telling you about what you don't know," Danner says. After all, "failure is a strategic resource. It's a resource you already paid for, a resource you're creating all the time." Read Full Article>> 

Language as Action: Managing Progress and Accountability

In a previous post I wrote about the concept of Destiny in Appreciative Coaching. For many, the 'radical' approach outlined in that article made sense and breathed new life into their coaching practice; however, many people are curious - how do we evaluate or monitor our client's progress as they live out their Destiny? The International Coaching Federation (ICF) requires its members to adhere to eleven core competencies. The purpose of these competencies is to help coaches support and maximize their client's personal and professional potential. One core competency involves managing a client's process and accountability. This article intends to suggest some methods to: measure, track and evaluate the progress of one's coaching, assess progress and accountability, and reinventing what these terms can mean for us as appreciative coaches.


Progress and Movement

There is a paradigm of progress that says that to progress we must close the gap between where we are and where we want to be. We start here and move to there. In this paradigm milestones, markers, progress indicators all make sense and are very helpful in making good progress. Let's call this the traditional paradigm of progress.


There's another paradigm that says that progress is really only seen in hindsight. We look over our shoulder and say, "yes I progressed", but we cannot actually 'progress' in the present moment. In the present all we can do is live and act according to a set of beliefs and assumptions about what is possible for us right now. There is, of course, progress in this paradigm (as well as hard work), but the notion of struggle to 'close the gap' is absent. We are relieved of the struggle to succeed, and instead act in accordance with the future that calls us. The future we are 'living into' lives as something possible in the present. It is held in our images of the future. Read Full Article>> 

Lean Manufacturing, Kaizen, and Appreciative Inquiry
The topic of Lean Manufacturing, Kaizen and AI has been a side conversation between a colleague and a potential client who is very much into Lean and referred me to which I found very helpful. I looked at the Principles of Lean and determined that the Principles as stated on that site are all about value and that is already a good fit with Appreciative Inquiry (AI), which is about valuing. I really enjoyed reading them.

What I've done below is to share what came up for me as I read the Principles.


Firstly, just want to state that I see AI like this: It is a framework, not a method. While the actual experience of it is excellent just for the experience (people fee energized, valued, positive and open to possibilities after an AI interview), AI is an approach that delivers an outcome of some sort. AI is the means/ approach / philosophy to some desired end or state of being. In the case of Lean, it would be to deliver the outcomes of Lean and facilitate a shift in the culture to live that way. If the outcomes were around Innovation, outcomes would be around Innovation, etc. For this reason I become a little defensive when people see AI as limited to HR type outcomes. Some people say, "Oh, AI that's an HR thing!!" AI is so much more. Read Full Article>> 

Why Is The Visual Image So Important in Appreciative Inquiry

Although I have been practicing AI for a number of years, and have seen a lot of amazing things, I am continuously in awe in the possibilities and opportunities that are generated from an Inquiry. My favorite part of the inquiry would have to be the dream phase, as I am sure many of you would agree. I love the creativity that emerges when you give adults permission to play and by curious.


I came across a quote recently that reaffirms why the visual image is so important in the Appreciative Inquiry process that I would like to share with you...


In an interview, Warren Bennis, an author, professor, and leadership guru stated:

"The next question people often ask is: How can I imagine exceeding my benchmarks when I have no idea of how I will actually do it? Remember that when you say you have "no idea", you mean you have no conscious idea. However, [studies] revealed that imagery can help in several ways: In addition to helping to focus your attention by stimulating attentional networks in the brain, imagery can actually help your brain to map your path to your goal outside of conscious awareness. Imagining activates brain regions that can unconsciously map your path to success. Not knowing "how" doesn't actually matter, since the brain will figure this out once you let it know where you want to go."  

  Read Full Article>>
Appreciative Inquiry: A Powerful Strategic Planning Tool
Strategic planning helps the organization get from where it is to where it wants to be. Certainly it should reflect mission, vision, and core values. In fact, it should more than reflect these three elements; it should reinforce and be thoroughly integrated with them. The plan that is developed should be one that can be implemented. It must have methods for on-going evaluation and measurement. The planning process itself must be concise and outcome oriented with decision-making as the primary objective. The outcomes should strengthen the strategic position of the organization.

Absent a sharp focus on implementation and outcomes, a "strategy-to-performance gap" will emerge. This gap is evident when organizations fail to track performance relative to strategic goals over the long haul, or when they fail to build in methods for monitoring progress towards those projected goals. The gap may be glaring to line staff, but many managers, even the most experienced, can fail to detect performance and productivity blocks. These bottlenecks diminish the potential outcomes for the entire organization.

A poorly designed strategic plan is often the root of this gap. However, plan design is not the only issue that impacts overall outcomes of strategic planning. Often, the methodology itself is an impediment. Traditional models may explore strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. That does little to inspire excellence in the future. Other accepted models may be rooted in the problems of the day and anticipating ways to avoid them in the future. A distinctly different model will yield distinctly different results. This article proposes such a model. Read Full Article>>
Appreciative Inquiry as a Practice For CoCreating Society 3.0

Around the world, appreciative inquiry has become well known as the strength based change method that enables people in organizations to co-create and co-own magnificent qualitative and quantitative improvements. It takes in-depth artistic and artful skills and attitude of the process designers and facilitators to lead 'the whole system in the room' through discovering powerful experiences, dreaming of desirable futures, designing magnetic action plans and realizing sustainable results. It's a magic approach, described in various thoroughly written text books, guides and practical examples.


Appreciative inquiry addresses a human art, involving conversational craftsmanship. It takes specific, carefully chosen words, questions, gestures and of course deep listening to help conversations being generative, appreciative and empowering. The good news is that the instrument called language is in reach of everybody on our planet. Imagine everyone would encounter his or her fellow citizen 'the AI way'... together building the sharing Society 3.0. Read Full Article>> 

Everyone Around You Has a Story the World Needs to Hear
Dave Isay opened the first StoryCorps booth in New York's Grand Central Terminal in 2003 with the intention of creating a quiet place where a person could honor someone who mattered to them by listening to their story. Since then, StoryCorps has evolved into the single largest collection of human voices ever recorded. His TED Prize wish: to grow this digital archive of the collective wisdom of humanity. Hear his vision to take StoryCorps global - and how you can be a part of it by interviewing someone with the StoryCorps app. Read Full Article>> 
Appreciative Inquiry Coaching Training (AICT)
Infuse Appreciative Inquiry into your coaching/consulting practice to strengthen the positive core of both you and your clients.
Appreciative Inquiry Coaching Training ICF CCE
Discover how to use your existing coaching skills within the energizing and affirming framework of Appreciative Inquiry to deepen and enhance both your personal sense of yourself as well as your skills as a coach/consultant.  
The " Appreciative Inquiry Coaching Training (AICT) " is an intensive 5 day course and will comprise of  a full Appreciative Inquiry into our collective experience of Appreciative Inquiry and Coaching. Together we will explore and experience each of the 5 D's as it relates to one-on-one relationships (between you and your client). The practicum, which participants will submit for certification, will embody "Destiny" as you apply the lessons taught during this course into your coaching work. Learn More>>
Introductory AI Workshop: Creating What Will Be
This two-day introduction Appreciative Inquiry (AI) workshops: "Creating What Will Be" 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. Learn More>>
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 for more information.
In This Newsletter
Welcome to the Ai Community...
My Adventures with Appreciative Inquiry (in Las Vegas)
Why You Should Question Success Just as Much as Failaure
Language as Action: Managing Progress and Accountability
Lean Manufacturing, Kaizen, and Appreciative Inquiry
Why Is The Visual Image so Important in Appreciative Inquiry?
Appreciative Inquiry: A Powerful Strategic Planning Tool
Appreciative Inquiry as a Practice for CoCreating Society 3.0
Everyone Around You Has a Story the World Needs to Hear
Appreciative Inquiry Coaching Training (AICT)
Introductory AI Workshop: Creating What Will Be
Hosting Opportunities
Free Downloads
Upcoming Events
Videos Worth Watching
LinkedIn Conversations
Webinar Recordings Available
Visit Our Websites
Free Downloads:
Exceeding Expectations: Appreciative Inquiry Stories in Education
By: Various Authors

Leadership Excellence (March 2012) - Highligh
ting 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:
Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry: Creating What Will Be
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada 
Dates: May 21-22, 2015    
View Event Page>> 
Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry: Creating What Will Be
Where: Atmore, Alabama 
Dates: June 8-9, 2015    
View Event Page>>  

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) 
Where: Haverhill, Massachusetts  
Dates: June 22-25, 2015    
2015 World Appreciative Inquiry Conference (WAIC) 
Where: Johannesburg, So. Africa 
Dates: July 6-10, 2015    

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) 
Where: Gulf Shores, Alabama  
Dates: August 3-6, 2015    
View Event Page>> 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) 
Where: Cape Town, South Africa  
Dates: August 24-27, 2015    
View Company of Experts' Entire Event Calendar
here >>
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 Videos Worth Watching

Playful Inquiry   

Description: Robin Stratton- Berkessel shares how a simple, intentionally appreciative inquiry can result in a playful state that fosters creativity, openness and togetherness. 


Be an Opportunity Maker 
We all want to use our talents to create something meaningful with our lives. But how to get started? Kare Anderson shares how she opened up her world by helping other people use their own talents and passions.


Appreciative Inquiry in the Working Place 

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


Description: In this fast-moving & entertaining talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity
LinkedIn Conversations:
Best Book on SOAR?
I'd like a book on SOAR. What are other books apart from the "Thin Book on SOAR"?

As AI practitioners we spend a lot of time helping others discover their positive core (i.e. their strengths, best practices, positive attitudes, knowledge, skills, capabilities, etc.), but we don't always get the opportunity to discover our discuss our own. I'm curious to know how you discovered your own positive core and what you'd say is one of your greatest strengths.

How Do You Deal with Resistance?
Have any of you gone into an organization who resisted using AI? If so, how did you overcome the resistance? Also, I am curious how you were able to get your foot in the door to discuss the benefits of using AI.


We invite you to join our LinkedIn Group called "Center for Appreciative Inquiry". It is an open group that allows participants to ask questions and share stories in regards to AI. All are welcome!

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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.   

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