Words Create Worlds®
July 2015 Newsletter
Company of Experts Consulting Services
Our journey begins with one step... 


We do not always know where our decisions will lead us or the people we will meet along the way. When I began my Appreciative Inquiry journey in 2000, I had no idea that I would be interviewed in 2015 by Robyn Stratton-Berkessel of Positivity Strategist.

Robyn and I connected via social media and had a few conversations earlier this year. We knew we wanted to work together and that we wanted to share with others how Appreciative Inquiry has changed our lives and the lives of people we connect with.  When Robyn suggested that we record a podcast where we interview each other around our experiences with Core Teams, I was unsure how this would work or even what this would be like.

An inquiry (discovery) is a powerfully instrument in human connection. As a facilitator, I recede from intruding on this profound human interaction. The idea of conducting an inquiry virtually raised questions, such as "What would the interview look like in a virtual format?" "Would we feel that connection to one another like we do when engaging in a face-to-face inquiry?" "Would we be able to allow the inquiry to flow or would we feel rushed?" "Would our stories translate to a broader audience?" or "Would we forget that we are recording because we are completely engaged?" As this was Robyn's first interview of this type for her website, she too wondered how this would play out. We knew that we MUST leap forward and embrace the opportunity.

Robyn was at her recording studio and I in my office across the country - yet distance did not impede on this remarkable experience. We reviewed the appreciative interview questions and then Robyn gently explained how the recording process works. The nervousness I felt regarding the equipment and the idea of recording for others just floated away.  The podcast experience was remarkably easy and quite enjoyable! Meeting Robyn and having this experience with her has been a gift to me. I knew these stories of Core Teams were all powerful, yet I had not spent a lot of time reflecting on their meaning to me.

Part 1 and 2 of mine and Robyn's podcast can be found below in this month's Words Create Worlds© newsletter. Please enjoy!

Kathy Becker,
President and CEO,
The Center for Appreciative Inquiry
In This Issue:
Appreciative Resources:
Welcome to the Appreciative Inquiry Community...
Company of Experts / Center for Appreciative Inquiry 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 website, so please check back often to see what new stories have been posted. Click here for more practicums.
Ai Should Stand For 'Africa Inspires' - WAIC 2015 Reflections
By Ezelle Theunissen, Coordinator of Programs - Africa, The Center for Appreciative Inquiry

 "AI should stand for 'Africa Inspires'" said Richard Mugisha, friend, colleague and Afrikologist from Uganda. It was Cape Town, 2012, and we were discussing the next WAIC that would take place in 2015 on our continent for the very first time. We were reflecting that many conferences we were attending of late in our various disciplines, seemed to sidestep respecting, acknowledging and learning from local knowledge and wisdom and seemed to perpetuate a noticeable trend in development work to adopt a kind of neo-imperialism or colonialism - a stance that says that what we - the visitors, bring to you - the locals, is superior to what you already know and do. We started talking about Appreciative Inquiry, and how so much of what we grew up with in our various African contexts (Ugandan, Tanzanian, Kenyan and South African) has appreciation and wholeness at its roots. We were rejoicing that in AI we saw so many African principles and knowledges already at work. We were excited about sharing with others - the visitors - what we already knew and practiced in Africa that could enrich AI and not just the other way around. Read Full Article>>
Importance of Core Teams in Appreciative Inquiry (Podcast, part 1)
By: Melissa Robaina, Marketing Director, The Center for Appreciative Inquiry
Core Teams, as many of us know, serve as our champions for Ai interventions - igniting and fanning the energy within a group or organization to keep the excitement alive as they move towards their shared vision of their preferred future.

Kathy Becker, the President for the Center for Appreciative Inquiry, has (and continues to do) amazing work in the field of Appreciative Inquiry. Having seen the role Core Teams play in the success of Appreciative Inquiry interventions, Kathy designs and delivers workshops to provide continuous development and learning opportunities for Core Team members. She has delivered these workshops around the World - and with great success.

In her interview with Robyn Stratton-Berkessel of Positivity Strategist, Kathy shares her learnings and insights in her work with Appreciative Inquiry and Core Teams.

" Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead. Listen to Podcast>>
The Five Appreciative Inquiry Elements
By: Fiona of Appreciating People


Over the last year we've delivered AI workshops with a huge range of clients and collaborators, from schools to churches, health and charities. From this experience, we realised that five key components were required for an Appreciative Inquiry intervention to have maximum impact. Five 'vital elements' of the appreciative process need to flourish to support the use of the key AI tools (the appreciative conversation, the 5D process and SOAR).

These 'vital elements' are: conversations, cooperation, co-creation, co-design and continuation. Without these elements, the AI process doesn't have life and vitality, and struggles to become generative. A useful way to understand these elements is to see the AI tools as a set of recipes, and the five elements as the staple ingredients - you can add other ingredients, but without these 'staples', the recipe won't work. Read Article>> 
Open Dialogue Means There Is No Single Truth and No Manual
By: Ash Holderness

Open dialogue was pioneered in Finland in the 1980s. It is a psycho-social approach that involves working with the whole family or network of a person experiencing mental health crisis, rather than just the individual themselves.

The second block of open dialogue training left me with the sense that I'm beginning to understand how empowering this approach can be. But I still feel conflicted about what this means for existing practice and how accepting psychiatric services will be here in the UK.
In our everyday work, we can find ourselves endlessly interpreting what we see in others and seeking to label it. We attempt to interpret behaviours, emotions and feelings within a medical framework, in order to offer an answer as to why a person is having difficulties.

"People are 'diagnosed' using a manual more associated with flat pack furniture than understanding the infinite complexities of human experiences." As John Shotter, professor of communication at New Hampshire University and a teacher on the course, says, 'each person is different - people talk the same talk, they do not walk the same walk'. Read Article>>
Beyond Bias
By: Heidi Grant Halvorson and David Rock

Neuroscience research shows how new organizational practices can shift ingrained thinking. Imagine that you are hiring an employee for a position in which a new perspective would be valuable. But while reviewing resumes, you find yourself drawn to a candidate who is similar in age and background to your current staff. You remind yourself that it's important to build a cohesive team, and offer her the job.

Or suppose that you're planning to vote against a significant new investment. This is the second time it's come up, and you voted no before. A colleague argues that conditions have changed, the project would now be highly profitable, and you can't afford to lose this opportunity. Upon closer examination, you see that his data is convincing, but you vote no again. Something about his new information just doesn't feel relevant.

These are examples of common, everyday biases. Biases are non-conscious drivers - cognitive quirks - that influence how people see the world. They appear to be universal in most of humanity, perhaps hardwired into the brain as part of our genetic or cultural heritage, and they exert their influence outside conscious awareness. Read Article>> 
How Appreciative Inquiry Questions Work (Podcast, part 2)
By: Robyn Stratton-Berkessel of Positivity Strategist

This episode is Part II of a two-part show.  Kathy Becker, CEO of the Center for Appreciative Inquiry interviews Robyn Stratton-Berkessel. Both are Appreciative Inquiry Practitioners and professional colleagues. In the previous episode, Part I, Robyn interviews Kathy demonstrating  the Appreciative Inquiry Discovery Interview.  In this episode the roles are reversed and Kathy interviews Robyn.  We demonstrate how Appreciative Inquiry Questions work. Appreciative Inquiry is a positive approach to change which has been used globally for almost 30 years. It seeks to inspire, mobilize, and sustain, employee engagement and collaborations.

Being interviewed is such a wonderful opportunity to actually experience the work I love - as participants in my workshops do.  Instead of interviewing or facilitating others, I am in the participant's chair.  I have the chance to talk about the work I do from a very special place.  I talk about a high point experience in my career as an Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner. You'll hear not only the unfolding story of a high point Appreciative Inquiry experience, but some of behind-the-scenes set-up as well. Listen to Podcast>> 

Why Dropping "Management" from Change Management is Good For Results

We have certainly all heard it at some point: Everybody wants change until we ask people to actually do it.

The interesting thing is this: Despite the fact that we are creatures of habit, what we deeply want is to change so we can become better versions of ourselves. Think about it for a second; haven't you made improvements in your work situation? Also, consider the large number of people who want to lose weight on January 1st?

The natural question that comes next is this: If we all really are creatures of change, why is it that we hate it when it hits us at work? Why is it that 70% of all change initiatives still fail?

The one thing we hate above all else is when change is imposed on us-the sort of change we have not chosen ourselves. It sounds pretty obvious when you pause and reflect on it. In fact, it might even almost sound too simplistic. We all dislike having things shoveled down our throats. It is this type of change we reject. It is this sort of change that makes us go through the slow and painful internalizing of so-called Change process as initially described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief. But make no mistake, 'internalizing' change does not mean 'embracing' it. Learn More>>
Don't Get Stuck In Your Story - Revise
By Louise Altman, The International Workplace

Every person grows up carrying a narrative about who they are. Most of that story is formed early in childhood with new chapters added to include adolescence and experiences as adults.

While some of those perceptions may contain truths, other peoples' stories about us are often a product of their projections. Eventually themes emerge from these stories. We patch them together, mix them with our own experiences and create the stories we tell about ourselves. There are usually two parts to our stories - the ones we tell the world and the ones we tell ourselves.  Sometimes they are in conflict.

Unless we revise our childhood stories, we can arrive in adulthood with competing, confused and inaccurate stories of who we are - and what we can be.

Unexamined stories can collide with realities we face as the "stakes" of life get higher and more complex.  College. Jobs. Long-term relationships. Financial responsibilities. Parenting. Illness. Aging. When we come up against these challenges we often find that we're already carrying narratives about who we are or who we can be in those situations. Learn More>>
We Are Looking for Appreciative Inquiry Trainers

The Center for Appreciative Inquiry is seeking experienced trainers, coaches, consultants and facilitators to become certified to teach its Appreciative Inquiry Trainings and Workshops. Trainers will be certified to deliver our various workshops (to business, community, non-profit, education, etc.) to support the growth and interest in Appreciative Inquiry focusing on dialogue, collaboration and how the human systems thrive.

We are looking for high energy people with a commitment to helping others develop and grow as internal facilitators and to be part of creating a better World Community.  If you are grounded in humans systems flourishing demonstrated by your views of social change and by participating in the AI Community, you may be a good match for this program. Learn More>>