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March 2015

Company of Experts Consulting Services

Recently, early one morning, I stopped by a retail store to pick up several items. As I was checking-out, the young man behind the counter asked with a smile, "what is the best thing that has happened to you today?" Frankly, I was taken aback by his question. As an Ai Practitioner, I am often the one asking others affirmative questions, such as the one he asked me, but at that moment, my mind was consumed with daily work responsibilities - emails to send, papers to review, calls to make, etc. His question was a pleasant disruption.


After a moment of reflection I offered a response that fostered a conversation. In turn, I invited him to share his best experience for the day. Thomas, the young cashier's name, shared that he awoke each morning to write on a white board the "best of the best" which he would seek out each day and reflect upon each evening. Leaving the retail center I realized I had found my "best of the best" that day - as I had the privilege of meeting Thomas.


So, what is the best thing that has happened to you today?

Jim Pulliam,
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.

  • Amy Gallie, "Identifying Students' Strengths to Help Them Achieve Success"
  • Nicole Herbstein, "Ultimate Teamwork: Teaming, Connecting and Communicating in the Office"
  • Corrie Melanson, "Living Our Values"
  • Wael Khoury, "Empowering Employees to Build Connection with Customers"
  • Douglas M. Littles, "Happiness in the Workplace Creates Teamwork"
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. 
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>> 

Shifting From Linear to Holistic Design
Organizational cultures vary, just as human personalities vary. Many are embracing methods and tools that bring all voices to the table. Participatory, inclusive decision-making practices and use of collaborative tools and technologies, along with social media platforms to level the playing field are becoming more common, facilitating our capacity to be more experimental, productive, playful, and engaged.

Impetus for Change
Still, in most organizations, the starting point for change is to focus on what is broken and then call for change or a training program only when leaders or managers perceive employees are not performing. "It's a training problem," they complain. How many of us have been brought in to fix many "training problems" after a major change implementation failed to include informing (let alone including) the employees of new strategies, organizational restructure, new technologies, systems, processes, policies, or procedures. The expectation is that employees will slot into whatever the new design is and keep the organization running smoothly without support or strategies for transitioning to the new. Read Full Article>>
Positive Teams Are More Productive
How might you make your team experience a more positive one?

All managers would like their teams to be more productive. Yet most companies are using the same old methods: strategic plans, goal-setting, streamlining operations, reducing inefficiency. Others are offering employee perks, such as on-site food, daycare, or gyms. Others are offering bigger bonuses or flexible schedules.

Kim Cameron and his colleagues at the University of Michigan, however, have discovered a way to improve performance that has nothing to do with dishing out benefits or deploying new processes. In a research article published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science Cameron and his coauthors found that a workplace characterized by positive and virtuous practices excels in a number of domains.

Positive and virtuous practices include:
  • Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.
  • Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling.
  • Avoiding blame and forgive mistakes.
  • Inspiring one another at work.
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work.
  • Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust & integrity.
Cameron and his colleagues explain that there are three reasons these practices benefit the company . Read Full Article>> 
A Blueprint For Change: Appreciative Inquiry
How do we free the energy within organizations to find what works in order to enable positive change?

Imagine that you receive a call today telling you that you will be moving from your current home in the next 30 days. Furthermore, the caller offers "sketchy" details as to the nature of the new house that you will be occupying and no clear idea of what assistance you will be receiving in the move. You are told that additional information may come at "some future time," on a "need to know basis." What are your reactions? Perhaps you think, "Fantastic, an adventure." Or, you might think, "Hey, wait a minute move?...Nobody else has said anything about moving. I think that I'll just wait and see if this is really serious." Or your reaction might be, "I love my home. I don't want to move. Everything is fine the way it is. Why would I want to pull up roots and relocate? I'm not moving!"

The metaphor of moving is one that we believe captures the emotional intensity and uncertainty that many of us experience when faced with organizational change.

Now, imagine another scenario. You are approached with an invitation to consider the possibilities of moving to another location and occupying a house that you will have a part in designing and building. The invitation carries with it a promise that the things you cherish most about your current home will be considered in building the new home. Furthermore, you are asked to consider what you would like to see in a "dream" house, and those ideas will be included for consideration in the new home. Finally, because you have been involved in the specifications and the architecture of the new house, you have faith that it is built on solid ground and will weather internal and external environmental challenges. Now, what are your reactions?

All of us have a dream house within a place that we can envision as the perfect setting for our perfect life. We believe this is also true for organizations that people have a dream organization a place where they and others can do their best work. This article is about freeing the energy that already exists in people and organizations towards reaching that dream. Read Full Article>> 
Switch: Don't Solve Problems - Copy Success
That's the first step to fixing everything from addiction to corporate malaise to malnutrition. A problem may look hopelessly complex. But there's a game plan that can yield movement on even the toughest issues. And it starts with locating a bright spot - a ray of hope.

When Jerry Sternin arrived in Vietnam, the welcome was rather chilly. The government had invited his employer, Save the Children, the international organization that helps kids in need, to open an office in the country in 1990 to fight malnutrition. But the foreign minister let Sternin know that not everyone in the government appreciated his presence. The minister told him, "You have six months to make a difference."

Sternin had traveled to the country with his wife and 10-year-old son. None of them spoke the language. "We were like orphans at the airport when we arrived in Vietnam," he said. "We had no idea what we were going to do." Sternin had minimal staff and meager resources.

The conventional wisdom was that malnutrition was the result of an intertwined set of problems: Sanitation was poor. Poverty was nearly universal. Clean water was not readily available. The rural people tended to be ignorant about nutrition. Read Full Article>> 
The Stories We Lead By: 4 Steps to Conscious Authorship
The Scene. It was a case of art imitating life. Literally. After a Friday morning full of client appointments, I drove to the airport and boarded a flight to Orlando. I had booked myself into a "creative expression" workshop on a whim several days ago and was now headed to a weekend full of painting.

Which is all very well and good - who wouldn't savor two days in Orlando when leaving behind 5 degrees-below-zero weather at home? Just one problem. I don't paint. At all.

Haven't picked up a paintbrush since junior high art class. I still have vivid memories of my art teacher, Mrs. Potter, becoming impatient with my repeated trips to her desk to ask for help correcting problems in my paintings. I fled to the comfortable refuge of core academic classes in high school and never looked back. Until now.
My intention in signing up for the workshop wasn't to become a better painter, however. I was hoping to encounter my creative self in a different form...and maybe to check in with my deeper sense of some significant shifts that had been going on in my life.

What I didn't expect was new material for an article on leadership.  Read Full Article>>
Vision and Execution Are Not Sequential
Appreciative Inquiry is not a linear process. Have your tried spinning the circles?

One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is moving from vision to execution as though it's a linear process. The widely held assumption is they are two ends of a spectrum: Vision is about planning. Execution is about action.

The truth is: Vision requires action to be clarified and refined, and execution requires reflection to be effective.

Most leadership experts subscribe to some variation of these five steps.
Linear The model is logical. But in reality, most of us don't live our lives that way, and most leaders are not rigorous about it, because life doesn't wait while you are planning. No wonder so many leaders have little patience with the first steps.

When you think of these steps as circular, it gives a better sense of their ongoing repeating nature. A reality check will verify that all of these steps are important. Anyone who has worked with a leader who acts randomly ("ready-fire-aim") knows what a mess they leave behind. And leaders who avoid taking action can be just as frustrating.

But this approach is still sequential and doesn't match up with the reality of our messy lives and organizations. It's simply not accurate to represent a dynamic, interrelated process as a series of sequential steps. Read Full Article>>
Appreciative Inquiry and the Power of Questions

Questions are essential within the perspective of Appreciative Inquiry. The questions we ask ourselves - as a person or a system - determine the direction towards which we develop ourselves. What sort of questions can then help to facilitate a movement towards the desired direction?


The Craftsmanship of Designing Questions 

The other day I heard an anecdote about David Coopperrider, one of the main thinkers on Appreciative Inquiry, who spent three months on thinking up a question to open up a conversation between religious leaders from all over the world. The question he ended up giving them was: 'Can you tell me something about the moment you knew you wanted to live your life in service of religion?'. In an Appreciative Inquiry process it is typically not the facilitator - in this case Cooperrider - who asks this question to the group. Rather people are invited to talk about this question in pairs or small groups. The craftsmanship of the Appreciative Inquiry practitioner is exactly that of thinking of and crafting exactly that question that will hopefully create some sort of shift - and to let the people that are actually touched by the topic or change enter into a conversation about it. 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 Issue
Welcome to the Ai Community...
Language as Action: Managing Progress and Accountability
Shifting From Linear to Hoistic Design
Positive Teams Are More Productive
A Blueprint For Change: Appreciative Inquiry
Swithc: Don't Solve Problems - Copy Success
The Stories We Lead By: 4 Steps to Conscious Authorship
Vision and Execution Are Not Sequential
Appreciative Inquiry and the Power of Questions
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:
Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) 
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada  
Dates: April 13-16, 2015   
View Event Page >> 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) 
Where: Johannesburg, So. Africa 
Dates: May 11-14, 2015    
View Event Page>>  

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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Reach for the stars & be the leader you've always wanted to by trying this appreciative exercise...  

 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!

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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