Words Create Worlds®
June 2016 Newsletter
Company of Experts Consulting Services
Creating Shared Meaning through Our Stories... 


On my short drive to work each morning, I enjoy listening to my local non-profit radio program on NPR (National Public Radio). What I appreciate about NPR, is that I can count on them to search for the story behind the headlines. For those that are unfamiliar, NPR shares the news of the World (even negative news) and its impact on people, on culture, on politics, etc. in a story filled with metaphors - often including the voices of those who are impacted by or involved in the story. Through the stories shared, a connection is made and I find myself looking for, and uncovering, hope in the most unlikely stories.

Stories have a way of connecting us to one another. We all want, essentially, the same things: Love, Respect, Freedom, Peace, Acceptance, Hope, Inspiration, Health, Family, and Friendship. It is this shared humanness that connects us.

When sharing our stories, not only are we are building connections, but we are also constructing a shared reality the listener. The Constructionist Principle, derived from 'Social Constructionist' theory, states that the language we use shapes our social reality. As a result, meaning is made in our conversations, and what emerges as 'knowledge' is actually a broad social agreement created among people through communication.
So, what does this mean in practice? It means that every conversation we engage in is important and to always remain mindful of the words we use and the questions we ask. When engaging in conversations, you might ask yourself these questions:
  • How will I contribute to the discussion?
  • What questions will I ask?
  • What stories will I share?
  • What reality is being created by the stories we are sharing?
  • What meaning are we making in our conversation and what social agreements are emerging?

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.
  • Sharon McManus, "Being Our Best Together"
  • Cheryl Goodwin, "Strategic Planning: A Blueprint for Excellence"
  • Heidi Holtz, "Celebrating the Human Experience"
  • Lynora Bowen, "Time to Compose"
New practicums are frequently posted to our website, so please visit often to see what new stories have been posted.
It's All About the Question - Coaching Tips From Appreciative Inquiry
By: Merci Miglino, PCC
Coaching is a strengths-based way of bringing about change and growth. In this way, it has a strong alignment and connection to the field of Appreciative Inquiry (AI). Appreciative Inquiry encourages us to notice and specifically identify what is working and what is strong in ourselves and in our organizations. It does not deny negative data or information, but chooses to notice it and move on.

Coaches do not enter a coaching relationship with the belief that their clients are broken, but with the belief that their clients have limitless potential and can achieve great things. Coaches tend to believe that their clients know the answers they seek (even if this is at a deep and buried level of consciousness), so the AI technique of asking very powerful questions (inquiry) is at the heart of coaching.
Importance of Stories
By: Robyn Stratton-Berkessel, Positivity Strategist

Telling Stories and Constructing Narratives
We are all story tellers with our own stories to tell. We depend on a regular narrative to help us navigate through our days. We tell each other stories everyday: at home with our families, at work with our colleagues and clients, at play with our mates, and in romance with our lovers. Who you hang out with informs your narrative - your story. What TV shows you watch, what clothes you buy, the food you eat and all that you regularly do informs your world view and is your story. These are demonstrate the importance of stories.

Significantly, the stories we tell ourselves get lived out daily. They guide our beliefs and choices, thereby impacting our actions. As we become more conscious of our own stories and the stories of others, we begin to notice different perspectives and potentially reach new levels of understanding. We begin to make sense of complex issues, and together we can create new stories.

A beautiful quote of Meg Wheatley says it all: "Remember, you don't fear people whose stories you know, real listening always brings people closer together."
Language as Action: Managing Progress & Accountability
By: Luke Younge, Certified Ai Trainer & Coach, The Center for Appreciative Inquiry
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.
Is "Why" an Appreciative Question?
By: Melissa Robaina, Certified Ai Facilitator & Consultant, The Center for Appreciative Inquiry

A few days ago I shared a fascinating HBR article on LinkedIn 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 on our various social media outlets, one person asked me if "why" is an appreciative question. I stopped what I was doing just so that I could let that question sink in. I mean, I believed it could be, depending on the context in which it is used but I was curious as to what others thought.

After pondering the question for a day or so, I posted the question on various LinkedIn groups I am connected to. The question spread like wildfire. I was honored that so many people took the time to share their thoughts and experiences. The discussions that emerged were engaging and insightful.

Most of the responses I read agreed that while "why" might not be the first choice in questions we ask our clients, it could, however, be appreciative depending on the context, tone, intention, and the level of trust between the inquirer and the client. In my work with Appreciative Inquiry, I have learned that crafting questions, so that they are both appreciative and meaningful to the client, is more of an art form than methodology. Our success as practitioners lies in our ability to recognize which type of question will work best for the situation. Many of you provided great examples of appreciative "why" questions. Some examples of appreciative "why" questions included, but were not limited to... 
Being In the Question

Ever come across a question or statement that made you stop in your tracks? Today while browsing LinkedIn, Nick Wright, a Leadership & OD Coach, posed the question, "How far do you model and support 'being in the question' in your OD practice?"

In this article, one statement stuck out for me, "Posing a question is the act of projecting an inquiry outwards. By contrast, being in the question is about our own presence, attitude and stance - a spirit of humility, openness and curiosity - and a willingness to invite challenge."

What are your thoughts? How do you model 'being in the question' for others?
Ten Things Happen When Kids Engage In Design Thinking
By: John Spencer, The Creative Classroom

Creativity and innovation have become buzzwords in education (though not as quite as trendy as hipster beards or skinny jeans). It's easy to look at the maker movement and write it off as yet another trend in education. But what if it's not just a trend? What if it's an idea whose time has come?

For years, schools have been stuck in a one-size-fits-all factory model, where students passively consume content. But here's the thing: kids aren't widgets. While one-size-fits-all works great for socks, it's not ideal for minds. Kids need to dream and wonder and imagine. They need to design and build and tinker.

This is why I love design thinking. It's a flexible framework that guides students through specific phases in the creative process.

What happens when kids become design thinkers? The following are some of the benefits I have noticed when kids engage in design thinking.
Appreciative Inquiry Certification Trainings

For nearly two decades, The Center for Appreciative Inquiry (CAI) has been a leader in Appreciative Inquiry Trainings and Certification. Thousands of individuals, teams, organizations and communities have participated in one of The Center for Appreciative Inquiry's workshops, gaining Ai expertise as well as personal and professional fulfillment. With a CAI Certification, you can demonstrate not only knowledge and skill-set, but also a commitment to high professional standards and a strong code of ethics.

Individuals who have participated in Appreciative Inquiry (or strength-based) workshops/trainings from other Ai providers are eligible to receive Appreciative Inquiry certification from The Center for Appreciative Inquiry. Learn how you can earn your Appreciative Inquiry Certification and join our growing network of Ai Professionals.
Appreciative Inquiry Directory: Join Our Growing Network

The Center for Appreciative Inquiry's Directory was created to allow clients to find Certified Appreciative Inquiry professionals worldwide, provide expert support and peer collaboration for independent consultants, and build a growing network of individuals who want to increase their impact for making a positive difference in the World - inspiring success and connections of people, community and organizations.

Who is listed on the Appreciative Inquiry Directory?
  1. Individuals certified through the Center for Appreciative Inquiry (CAI) from 2005 to present are eligible to be included in the Center for Appreciative Inquiry Directory Listing for FREE for the duration for their certification.
  2. Individuals who have participated in Appreciative Inquiry workshops by other Ai providers are also eligible for certification and a directory listing - please contact us directly to learn how.
Directory profiles are easy to create and update and will make you locatable by our worldwide audience. All Directory profiles will remain visible on our website for FREE for the duration of your certification. Create your Free Ai Directory listing today! Our Directory Profile creation process is easy and takes only a few minutes. Once approved, you can begin enjoying all the benefits of your Free Appreciative Inquiry Directory Listing.
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.