Words Create Worlds?
May 2015 Newsletter
Company of Experts Consulting Services
Just in Awe... 
I know all of you teachers, trainers, facilitators and AI Practitioners have experienced one of those high energy moments, and just felt "How lucky I am to be here at this time, with these great people and doing this amazing work". Can you recall a time where you were just awed by the experience? If I am honest, I feel that way always when I am using AI these days - have the times changed or have I?

Recently I was co-training with Jim Pulliam and Melissa Robaina - and everyone was feeling it. You could feel it and hear it in the stories they were sharing, in the trust, the depth, the focus on each other. On day four of our Ai Facilitator Training, I was asked if it would be okay to share a poem at the start of the day. Don't you just love it when people want to make the training their own? I had no idea what we were in for.

It was more like a one-man show as he slowly stood, looked around the room, and with the grace and command of Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain he filled the room with his presence and began the most beautiful rendition of " Song Before Breakfast" by Ogden Nash from memory - no notes!

In our silence, we all connected deeper as we were pulled into our own complex emotions through his tender words, the inflection in his voice and the intensity of his eyes. When he was finished we sat silent and reflected. He told us the story and importance of this poem to him.  As a youngster his father would wake him just after daylight each morning and recite the poem with passion and bravado as he had just now. He pulled open the blinds and begin "Hopeful each morning I arise" through to the closing "If I should fail you, do not sorrow; I'll be a better man tomorrow". His gift to his son, and all these years later a gift to friends who just yesterday were strangers.

Kathy Becker,
President and CEO,
Center for Appreciative Inquiry
In This Issue:
Appreciative Resources:
Sales & Promotions:
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.
  • Meredith Bishop and Vicki Hayden, "Appreciative Inquiry: Creating Work Cultures of Safety and Trust"
  • Jeannette Peralta, "Working Together to Understand the Information Needed for Improved Payroll Processing"
  • Joleyne Mayers-Jaekel, "Creating a High-Functioning Team to Enhance Workplace Excellence in the School of Health Science"
  • Scott Geddis, "Developing an Enduring Organizational Culture Build on Trust, Communication, Transparency, and Collaboration in Supporting/Delivering Membership Needs"
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.
How To Play To Your Strengths
Most feedback accentuates the negative. During formal employee evaluations, discussions invariably focus on "opportunities for improvement," even if the overall evaluation is laudatory. Informally, the sting of criticism lasts longer than the balm of praise. Multiple studies have shown that people pay keen attention to negative information. For example, when asked to recall important emotional events, people remember four negative memories for every positive one. No wonder most executives give and receive performance reviews with all the enthusiasm of a child on the way to the dentist.

Traditional, corrective feedback has its place, of course; every organization must filter out failing employees and ensure that everyone performs at an expected level of competence. Unfortunately, feedback that ferrets out flaws can lead otherwise talented managers to over-invest in shoring up or papering over their perceived weaknesses, or forcing themselves onto an ill-fitting template. Ironically, such a focus on problem areas prevents companies from reaping the best performance from its people. After all, it's a rare baseball player who is equally good at every position. Why should a natural third baseman labor to develop his skills as a right fielder? Read Full Article>>
Podcast: Appreciative Investing
with Ed Jacobson and Robyn Stratton-Berkessel

In this episode, my special guest is Ed Jacobson, PdD, MBA.  What's special about Ed is his one of a kind Appreciative Financial Planning program.  He has carved a niche among Financial Advisory Companies to train and coach them to connect more deeply with their customers and strengthen sustainable relationships and partnerships.

Ed poetically describes his first encounter with Appreciative inquiry as as his creation myth. His greatest insight came from Cooperrider saying: "organizations move in the direction of the first question asked."  That was the shift Ed had been waiting for.  It was a true transformation point for Ed that was a deep truth, and it collided with all that he had been trained in as a psychologist and and MBA.  It was clear to Ed, this perspective applied equally to individuals as it did to organizations. Listen to Podcast>>
What It Means to 'Advocate'
By Sharon Ohmberger, Guest Author for The Center for Appreciative Inquiry


I started work at Disability Rights Nebraska in February of 1998, coming from a very homogenous "all-white, all 30's" workplace into one of a variety of ages, races, attitudes and abilities. That was just the start of the whole mental expansion process. Like many people without a visible physical disability or a diagnosis of some sort, I didn't think I'd had any experience with disability. I forgot about my aunt, my cousins, the girl I rode the bus with growing up, the guy in my class that seemed to struggle more than everyone else. Sometimes I wish I could go back to not recognizing things as "disability". But recognizing that was part of the process of becoming conscious of the fact that not everyone has a support system or a community. Not everyone has a voice, by default or by oppression, or sometimes because they've made that choice because it seems safer to them to remain quiet.

But here's the thing: the people I work with are Advocates. Part of the root of "advocate" is "vocare", meaning "to call". They call people out. They encourage people who contact the office for assistance to speak on their own behalf. They also call out the obvious bullies and abusers, yes, but most often, they call out The Unconscious, people who just don't know any better or make the effort to see any more clearly. And that is what we learn to do here: to be conscious. Of personal dignity, of ability, of individual rights. Read Article>>
Better is Based In Who We've Been
Something wonderful happens when we talk about what's working well in our organizations. We find we have the resources to be even better.

I'm always delighted to hear the stories people tell about peak moments in their organizations. I've heard a lot of stories along these lines since 2003 when I started using the organizational development process called Appreciative Inquiry. The storytelling is powerful, but what really excites me is the awareness of capacity that storytelling kicks up - the aha of "Hey, we can do this!" - and the actions which result.

A community needs to improve trust among its staff. How to do that? First, we tell stories of moments when the staff trusted each other in the past, and we unpack the details: the specific activities that fostered trust, how people communicated, how they kept their promises. We may have to dig deep, but the trust is there, somewhere, in our experience. Once we locate it, we come to see we are capable of trusting each other even more. So we make commitments around practices that cultivate greater trust. And these practices leverage what has already worked for us. Read Article>>
Generativity: Appreciative Inquiry and Transformation, Part 1
Appreciative Inquiry has acquired a reputation for avoiding deficit-based, problem-solving approaches to organisational development and change management, embracing a more positive, forward-looking perspective instead. It doesn't ask what the problems are. It focuses instead on questions such as what works best? How can the best could be fortified and/or reimagined? What needs to be done to bring that about? There's an inherent ambiguity, or perhaps ambivalence, about such inquiry. What if discussing what works best evokes sadness, anger, and frustration that that era has passed, or despair that something valuable has been deeply eroded? It seems that a focus on the positive, implicitly or explicitly, simultaneously evokes a shadow narrative of negativity.

Recently, practitioner scholars in AI have been thinking a lot about this. Gervase Bushe, Professor of Leadership and Organization Development at the Beedie School of Business in Canada, has added another vibrant string to the AI bow with his concept of "generativity" - a concept he argues equips AI with transformational possibilities.What is generativity, and how does it work? Read Article>>
Emergent Principles of Appreciative Inquiry: The Enactment Principle
Traditionally, Appreciative Inquiry has had five guiding principles (the Constructionist, Poetic, Simultaneity, Anticipatory, and Positive principles as sent out by David Cooperrider in, for example, the Appreciative Inquiry Handbook). In recent years, new principles have started to emerge as Appreciative Inquiry consultants have refined their thinking in the light of practical experience. These are usually known as 'emergent principles'.

In an earlier post I described the Wholeness Principle. In this post, we consider the 'Enactment Principle'. In The Power Of Appreciative Inquiry: A Practical Guide To Positive Change by Diana Whitney and Amanda Trosten-Bloom cite Mahatma Gandhi's maxim "You must be the change that you wish to see in the world" as a well-known example of this principle. If you want your desired future to come about, start enacting it in the present.

As they point out, acting 'as if' is self-fulfilling. As you start to behave as if what you wish to see in the future is already true, you provide a living example or reference experience for the desired change - both for other people, and for yourself. People around you start to see what the desired future will look like, making it easier to believe in. By enacting your desired future, you begin to bring it into present reality. Read Article>>