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Always Appreciating What's Good...

July 2014

Company of Experts Consulting Services


Is there anything better for a retired Community College President than to be asked to spend an hour chatting with graduate students? Jim Pulliam had just that opportunity this week AND I was lucky enough to sit in. He spoke to eleven college employees in an online graduate leadership program. The class is on consensus building and the topic for the week was to learn how Appreciative Inquiry is being used in colleges and universities. 


The faculty member delivering the class had completed the Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training� years ago and had found AI beneficial in his college leadership position and he wanted to share with the students. He asked the first question: How many of you knew of Appreciative Inquiry before this week's reading assignment? NO ONE had! We did not expect that answer. Perhaps, we should rethink our hesitancy to share AI thinking because we believe people may not be ready. Looking at this with an appreciative lens, let's begin to focus on where are our opportunities to share, engage, and invite others to learn about AI. In our trainings, people will often share that they are worried about introducing Appreciative Inquiry to their boss, team or colleagues. Challenging our traditional problem-solving, SWOT loving paradigms is scary! Do we need to be afraid? Are we, as facilitators, ready for that transformation? Knowledge and information are powerful keys to success.


During our conversation with the graduate students, we noticed the questions around AI began to change. The students' questions were practical, more along of the lines of how and where Appreciative Inquiry is used. No one questioned the concepts, theory or practice of Appreciative Inquiry. Research continues to show that strength-based approaches (e.g. Appreciative Inquiry, Mindfulness, Positive Self-Talk) not only improves one's health, wellbeing, and happiness but can positively impact the level of engagement and productivity within an organization.


Question: What suggestions do you have for introducing AI to an organization? How do you describe what "AI" is?



Kathy Becker,  

President of Company of Experts, Inc. 

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.

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. 
The Future is About People

When we close our eyes and imagine the world 20 years from now, it is likely that we picture scenes from a science fiction film, filled with omnipotent technology that takes center stage. Perhaps we all become cyborgs, or maybe we will communicate with our minds? Whatever our mental images of the future may be, we often envision a world dominated by technology. While there is no denying that technology will become further integrated into our lives and enable our every move, a scenario about the future that suggests the human element is secondary is neither useful nor plausible. We are in the midst of a complex, rapidly changing and uncertain landscape where we must consider how society, the economy, and the environment will collide in unexpected ways to shape the future. Understanding that the future cannot be predicted, futurists use futures in the plural sense to reflect the possibility for multiple alternatives to unfold. Scenarios of the future may be transformative, dystopic, or simply an extrapolation of what we see around us today. More likely, the future will be a combination of all three. Regardless of the world that emerges, we will need to consider every impact, not just those implications brought about by technology.


We must remember that the future is not only a time, but it is a place. In fact, these places of the future will be inhabited by people with innate characteristics that mirror who they were yesterday, who they are today, and who they will be tomorrow. Our focus should be on how the emerging shifts in the world will alter the way people think, behave, communicate, work, consume, live, and perceive reality. How will these interwoven changes affect the human experience? What are the potential disruptions, or better yet, transformational opportunities, that these shifts will provide us? A focus on people needs to drive our futures thinking. Read Full Article>> 

5 Common Questions Leaders Should Never Ask

Have you asked any of these questions? How can we, as leaders, reframe our questions to produce better results?     


Questioning is undoubtedly a valuable leadership tool. Asking the right questions can help business leaders to anticipate changes, seize opportunities, and move their organizations in new directions.


But how you question is critical. Questions can be great for engaging and motivating people , but they can just as easily be used to confront or blame, and can shift the mood from positive to negative. "We live in the world our questions create," says David Cooperrider, a professor at Case Western Reserve University and a pioneer of "Appreciative Inquiry," which holds that questions focusing on strengths and using positive language are far more useful to organizations than questions with a negative focus.


So what are some specific questions to avoid? Based on conversations with Cooperrider and several other leadership experts for my recent book, here are five examples of very common questions leaders may ask that can have the unintended effect of leading people in the wrong direction. With simple tweaks, the same questions can be used to engage people, rather than discourage them. Read Full Article>>  

Why Workplace Leadership is About to Get Its First Makeover in Over a Century

Business is changing, but the way we lead is not. Leadership is about to get it's first major makeover, here's why...


"The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones." - John Maynard Keynes


Our common and traditional approach to leadership hasn't significantly evolved since the dawn of the industrial age. When it comes to managing people in a work environment, we've always treated workers like any other input: squeeze as much as much out of them as possible and pay them as little as possible.


This idea was introduced nearly a century ago when the expansion of the U.S. economy largely was based on industrial machinery. Workers were required to perform relatively unchallenging tasks and were easily replaceable. Companies motivated workers primarily with money, paying by the piece to reward those who produced the most widgets.


But as we fast forward to today's business world shaped by rapidly evolving technology and the far greater importance of institutional knowledge, creative thinking and sophisticated collaboration, the value of each employee has grown exponentially more important. Organizations are focusing on innovation and unique differentiation -- and almost exclusively are looking at people, not machines, to provide it. Read Full Article>> 

Why the Capacity for Boredom is a Good Thing
"Boredom ... protects the individual, makes tolerable for him the impossible experience of waiting for something without knowing what it could be."

When was the last time you were bored - truly bored - and didn't instantly spring to fill your psychic emptiness by checking Facebook or Twitter or Instagram? The last time you stood in line at the store or the boarding gate or the theater and didn't reach for your smartphone seeking deliverance from the dreary prospect of forced idleness? A century and a half ago, Kierkegaard argued that this impulse to escape the present by keeping ourselves busy is our greatest source of unhappiness. A century later, Susan Sontag wrote in her diary about the creative purpose of boredom. And yet ours is a culture that equates boredom with the opposite of creativity and goes to great lengths to offer us escape routes. Read Full Article>>
Appreciative Inquiry Commons - Design Jam
Interested in co-designing the next generation Appreciative Inquiry Commons Website? If so, please participate in Appreciative Inquiry Commons - Design Jam. Over the next three weeks (from Jul. 18 - Aug.9), you will collaborate alongside hundreds of other AI practitioners, managers, change agents, authors, students, and thought leaders, to engage in an Appreciative Inquiry process to co-design the Next Generation Appreciative Inquiry Commons.

In partnership with IdeaScale, a collective-design online platform, participants will post ideas and inspirations, vote on, comment on, and refine each other's ideas, and help Discover, Dream, and Design the next generation AI Commons!

The AI Commons is looking to collect ideas and examples to spark thinking about the functionality, look and feel, content development, symbolism, interaction possibilities, and impact potentials of the next generation AI Commons. You must register to join in the discussion. Registration is free. To register, click here.  
Leadership Lessons From the Geniuses of Jazz

In Appreciative Inquiry, we always tell people to say "yes to the mess", here's why...  


Frank J. Barrett, a professor of management and global public policy at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., is also a jazz pianist who has led his own trios and quartets and traveled with the Tommy Dorsey orchestra. In his new book, Yes to the Mess:  Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz (Harvard Business Review Press, $27), Barrett riffs on the themes that improvisational jazz and enlightened corporate management have in common. The book is breezy and fun, and offers vivid real-life stories from Barrett's musical career and observations about some jazz greats, all juxtaposed with anecdotes from the business world.

Here are the lessons he imparts... Read Full Article>> 

Need a Mood Boost? Try This Simple Exercise

When my son was hospitalized a couple months ago for a respiratory problem, he was seen by many nurses and doctors. As my wife and I witnessed the medical personnel parade in and out of the room, the typical comments and advice was passed along.


But then, after a couple days, a trio of doctors came in and one of them did something different: With her Irish dialect she offered some observations of my son over the days. Amidst a handful of statements she made describing him, I caught the words: "vibrant," "hard-working," and "inquisitive." Her exact words. My mind immediately went to the thought that she seemed to be spotting his character strengths. I was hearing particular character traits like "zest," "perseverance," and "curiosity". Read Full Article>>  

Leadership and the Battle of Perceptions

Leadership happens through relationships; End the battle of misperceptions through dialogue, not monologue


Are you a leader engaged in a battle of perceptions? Some leaders treat their employees like the most unwelcome houseguest around.  Instead of making employees feel like an important part of the team, no matter how long they stay, they are forever a visitor who could be asked to leave at any time.  Yes, we all understand at-will employment, however, it's tremendously difficult as an employee when you're constantly worried about getting the boot.


In cultures where great work is overshadowed by assumptions about the complexity and time required, even stellar results can have less-than-welcoming receptions from leadership.  The gap between front-line challenges and the perspective of senior leadership widens when connection, support and engagement is replaced with pesudo-stabs at motivation, limited contact, and a lack of true understanding of the work effort.  Talk about a battle of perceptions, just like with our homeowners and houseguests, leaders begin to ask themselves questions and make up the answers.  Why did it take so long?  Why did they do it that way?  Were they lucky or do they really know what they're doing?  Why can Joe do more in half the time?  At the same time, employees are looking back at you wondering why you're not happy and more supportive. Read Full Article>>  

Change Management Requires Leadership Clarity and Alignment
Change Management Requires Leadership Clarity & Alignment (I like the identifying opportunity graphic).


Change management is in full-force across all industries, yet many leaders are unprepared to act upon and operationalize the requirements for change to avoid business disruption. For many organizations, preparedness begins at the top and this means that leadership - across all levels - must have absolute clarity in purpose and focus; there also must be alignment in strategic philosophy and resolution goals.


Unfortunately, many organizations are slow to change as the internal politics makes it difficult to reach consensus across all levels of leadership - even when the necessity for change is urgent. This is why many companies unknowingly lose momentum as they fail to change fast enough - allowing the marketplace and competitors to pass them by.  The result: valuable time is misspent, resources applied and money invested without the required outcomes to stay competitive, keep clients satisfied and employees engaged. Read Full Article>> 

Join our Growing Expert on Call Community - Free for 90 Days
Are you a consultant, coach, trainer or facilitator called to create a thriving more sustainable world? Join the growing Expert on Call community and be a part of a global network of change agents forming a generative community focused on this shared mission.

We are happy to announce the release of our Expert on Call Directory. Our directory is a global network of people with outstanding expertise in Coaching, Consulting, Facilitating, Keynoting, and Training. This network serves the needs of the community colleges, schools and universities, businesses and corporations, governmental agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

Each Expert on Call has an editable profile page that includes your photo and professional biography that highlights your specialties, articles, videos and testimonials. As an Expert on Call, your profile will be added to our Directory - making you and your company searchable by our worldwide audience.

Experts on Call also enjoy several other benefits, such as: free event postings, being a featured Expert in our "Ask the Expert" or "#AskEoC" programs, publish your articles, add your products to our store and more. To see a full list of benefits, please click here
Celebrating 25 Years With Huge Savings on our Appreciative Inquiry Trainings
Since 1989, Company of Experts has developed an excellent word-of-mouth reputation by helping hundreds of organizations and groups, and thousands of individuals, heighten their energy, sharpen their vision, and inspire their action for change.


To celebrate 25 years, we are offering an additional $250.00 savings on all 2014 Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Trainings (AIFT) being hosted in Las Vegas! Register early and combine your $250.00 savings on top of our Early Bird Registration Discount. Please enter promo code: THEBIG25 upon checkout to receive our 25 year celebratory discount. Discount cannot be combines with group rates or other offers. 

Free Payment Plan Program

Payment Plan Program is now available for ALL of our workshops!


Company of Experts, Inc. is pleased to offer a Payment Plan Program as a manageable alternative to paying your workshop registration in a lump-sum payment. Our Payment Plan Program allows you to pay your workshop registration over a number of weeks/months, interest free.


Enrollment in our free Payment Plan Program will reserve your seat(s) in the training of your choice. Your reserved seat(s) permit you to receive all the benefits of registered participants, such as access to any pre-workshop readings, materials and activities.  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 Issue
Welcome to the AI Community!
The Future is About People
5 Common Questions Leaders Should Never Ask
Why Workplace Leadership is About to Get Its First Makeover in Over a Century
Why the Capacity for Boredom is a Good Thing
Appreciative Inquiry Commons - Design Jam
Leadership Lessons From the Geniuses of Jazz
Need a Mood Boost? Try This Simple Exerise
Leadership and the Battle of Perceptions
Change Management Requires Leadership Clarity and Alignment
Join our EOC Community - Free for 90 Days
Celebrating 25 Years with Huge Savings on AI Trainings
New Payment Plan Program
Hosting Opportunities
Free Downloads
Upcoming Events
Online Videos Worth Watching
LinkedIn Conversations
Webinar Recordings Available
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:
Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry: Creating What Will Be
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada  
Dates: August 18-19, 2014 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) 
Where: Cape Town, South Africa 
Dates: August 25-28, 2014   
View Event Page >>  
Class full - registration closed

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) 
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada  
Dates: September 16-19, 2014  
Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) 
Where: Chicago, Illinois   
Dates: October 24-26, 2014 
Appreciative Inquiry Coaching Training (AICT) 
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada  
Dates: November 3-7, 2014   

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) 
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada  
Dates: November 12-15, 2014  
View Company of Experts' Entire Event Calendar
here >>
Recent Tweets

Words Create Worlds � is out! Stories via   

: What are the ways you've used stories at work? What was the outcome(s)?


Advanced Level Course Now Available! CCEU   


The power of truly seeing someone --


What makes questions so powerful?  

Videos Worth Watching

Playful Inquiry - Try This Anywhere  

Description: Robyn Stratton-Berkessel demonstrates how a simple, positive question can change your world.


Every Child a Talker - Appreciative Inquiry at Work  

Description: Robbie Macpherson shares a story about infusing AI into his work. 


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.  


Every Kid Needs a Champion 

Description: A call to educators to believe in their students' potential. 


Description: In this fast-moving & entertaining talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity
LinkedIn Conversations:
Is "Why" an Appreciative Question?
A few days ago I posted an HBR article titled, "Become a Company That Questions Everything". The article talks about how companies should encourage curiosity in the workforce by inviting employees and other stakeholders to ask questions. The article itself has a large graphic of the word "why". As I shared the article, one person asked me if "why" is an appreciative question. I believe it can be, depending on the context in which it is used. What do you think?

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 "Discovering Appreciative Inquiry". It is an open group that allows participants to ask questions and share stories in regards to AI. All are welcome!

Webinar Recordings Available 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.   

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