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Always Appreciating What's Good...

October 2014

Company of Experts Consulting Services


People who are new to Appreciative Inquiry often ask, "Appreciative Inquiry focuses on the positive, so do you negate the negative? What do you do about _____?" You can fill in the blank with so many topics: dysfunctional teams, conflict management, lack of trust, poor leadership, etc. Looking back over my journey as a trainer, facilitator, coach and consultant, I remember spending so much time prepping for all of the possible issues that could arise. As time passed, I noticed amazing things happened when I opened myself up to possibilities - by learning to trust myself, the people, but more importantly, the process.


When I do encounter an unpleasant situation, e.g. teams that are meshed in long-term conflict, management names specific people that I should 'watch out for,' etc. - it can be easy for all involved, including myself, to return to deficit mindset. Each time we are faced with a new problem, it just seems as though we might get stuck here - so how do we become unstuck? How do we, as change agents, deal with problems in an appreciative way?


While the majority of my work with clients involve preparation (workshops, coaching, and training) - I believe equally as important as preparation is getting in touch with our beliefs, feelings, and way of thinking. Inquiries are not always formal, rather some of the most powerful interventions we have are those we have with ourselves. Take a moment to ask yourself, When are you most alive? What are your strengths? What inspires you about Appreciative Inquiry? What is the best part about the work your do?


The book, Appreciative Leadership, by Diana Whitney, Amanda Bloom and Kae Rader, contains several exercises and tips for handling what seems like messiness. One exercise in the book that I have found quite useful, called "Practicing the Flip," helps individuals move from habitual problems to promising affirmative topics by becoming more aware of the words they use and its impact in constructing questions that spark positive change.


How do you practice the flip?



Kathy Becker,  

President of Company of Experts, Inc. 

Free Ebook - Exceeding Expectations

The Taos Institute just published a free ebook titled Exceeding Expectations: An Anthology of Appreciative Inquiry Stories in Education from Around the World.


"This book is a collection of deep and rich stories about adults, children and communities working together to shape the future of schools and education. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is the framework explored throughout this book and is a powerful vehicle for multiple generations to consciously collaborate and grow flourishing schools. The stories in this book share a vast array of examples where AI has been utilized to bring about positive change in educational settings around the globe" (The Taos Institute website, 2014).


My colleagues and I co-authored the article titled, "Creating a Legacy to Live Into: The Macon Miracle". This article is a colorful, heartfelt piece that shares how Bibb County School District (BCSD) engaged the whole education system, along with community leaders in a generative process to accelerate whole system positive change. Ultimately, BCSD's desired outcome was to generate a new educational system that would ensure that all children receive a high-quality education that will prepare them to be competitive and successful in a global economy. Read Full Article>> 

You Need a Community, Not a Network

The internet is great for spreading information and rallying crowds, but you can't mobilize people to collaborate and create something of lasting value simply by connecting them via the web. To get serious results from a network, you need commitment and a continuity of relationships among the participants.


To borrow language from the philosopher Avishai Margalit, the web is a "thin we" type of network. Participants tend to belong for individualistic reasons. They have little in common with other members, and they're reluctant to do much for the network. A big goal requires a "thick we" network - a community of people who feel responsible for collaborating toward a shared purpose that they see as superseding their individual needs. Members of a community - as opposed to a simple network - expect relationships within the group to continue, and they even hold one another accountable for effort and performance.

When networks develop into communities, the results can be powerful. Read Full Article>>
Podcast: Appreciative Inquiry Across Contexts, Cultures and Generations
In this episode, we talk about the impact of Appreciative Inquiry in a Government Contract Defense organization with many ex-military employees, many of whom were skeptical and concerned about breaking the mold.  You can read a summary of the highlights of this summit, Freedom to step out of our comfort zones,  which shone the light on the root causes of success where D&I was already working so well, and had gone unnoticed.

Appreciative Inquiry Across Cultures
There's another beautiful story of the transformational results Linda witnessed when applying Appreciative Inquiry in a school in northern China that shifted the dynamic from reluctant to joyful participation, and on the last day singing and dancing.  The teachers  came up with a plan for moving the school forward that no-one outside that context could possibly have done.  Linda stresses the value of the one-on-one "Discovery" interview, framed in an appreciative way. Read Full Article & Listen to Podcast>> 
Destiny in Appreciative Coaching: Appreciative Process as Action Planning

Destiny can be the hardest phase in Appreciative Inquiry to understand, but why? AI Coach & Trainer Luke Younge shares his thoughts


I'd like to write a little about Destiny/Delivery - the last phase in the 5 D model of Appreciative Inquiry - because it's the phase that's taken me longest to understand. And it appears I'm not alone.


What makes this phase different to the others in the process? Up till this point we have been moving through a familiar pathway - we have defined a topic to inquire into, we have conducted a discovery into best experiences and we have created a dream, which has now been refined into a provocative proposition or possibility statement. All through this we have carefully put aside our knee jerk problem-solving habits and learnt to trust that locating sources of energy and life will be more than enough to deal with the problem we may have.


The pinnacle we have reached in this high-energy process is the possibility statement - we have finally captured in words a future that both inspires us and is rooted in the best experiences of the past. We are connected to our positive core and, driven by that energy, we can imagine a future that inspires us and calls us to action. Read Full Article>>  

5 Things You Need to Know to Put Your Strengths to Work

Why it takes more than a survey to discover your strengths


Do you have a chance to do what you do best each day at work?  You know to use your strengths - those things you're good at and actually enjoy doing.  


When I was first asked this question several years ago I was sure it was some kind of trick.  Surely the most important part of my job was to fix my weaknesses, not to build on my strengths.  And when I looked back over the performance reviews written by my bosses, it was clear that this is where they wanted me to focus.


Yet despite 61% of us believing we grow most in our areas of weaknesses, brain studies reveal we grow the most new synapses in those areas where we have the most pre-existing synapses.  This is why building on our strengths has been found to help us be more engaged, more energized and more productive at work. Read Full Article>> 

Why Change is Hard - Where Action Meets Intention

You've heard all the clich�s about good intentions, right? Well, many of them are true. Everyone experiences a gap between intentions and actions - from the smallest resolution, "I'm going to drink less coffee today," to the bigger goals like - getting a new job. Why is it so easy to act against our own wishes, especially in the area of making personal changes?


What can we do to eliminate the gap between intention and action? Understanding what stops us from aligning our beliefs and motivations to produce the changes we want is an important first step.


Resistance to change is powerful. In one study of heart patients who were told they would likely die without making lifestyle changes, only one in seven followed the medical recommendations. I'm sure that the six who didn't change truly want to live.

Change is a decision-making process involving different regions of the brain that become integrated, resulting in behavior and actions. However, too often it's just a decision to change, not the actual behavioral change we want. Read Full Article>>  

What Makes a Workplace Human?

A Human Workplace is a workplace where the energy is fast-moving and positive. That's because the topic of energy in the organization is itself a vital business concern. It isn't left to chance, or worse, ignored completely.


A Human Workplace has very few yardsticks imposed from on high. The people in a Human Workplace don't measure everything in sight just because they can. They know how much they sell and what it costs to make the stuff they sell. They measure profit and loss and return on investment and other things that matter.


They don't measure every internal process, and they don't create contracts within the organization specifying how one department must serve another. Service Level Agreements for internal relationships are about as anti-Human Workplace a process as one could imagine. When we share the same goals and trust is strong, we don't have to spend time proving to our own colleagues that we've done our jobs. Read Full Article>>

Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions
The broaden-and build-theory could be defined as a model for explaining the mechanisms behind positive emotions in our minds and bodies, what their effects are, what the evolutionary reason is behind them and why studying them is so important for our well-being.


Studying emotions has always been a challenge. There are different points of view as to what is considered an emotion. General consensus now points to them being "multicomponent response tendencies that unfold over relatively short time spans" (Fredrickson, 2001).


Models based on this perspective have usually studied emotions like fear, anger, disgust (i.e. negative emotions), leaving the whole array of positive emotions unattended. Read Full Article>> 

Why You Should Play on Your Strengths - Not Focus on Your Weaknesses

Most of us can name all the things we don't like about ourselves. And we've probably also gotten feedback on "areas for improvement" (which usually feels a lot like outright criticism). The result?


We work on overcoming our weaknesses instead of playing to our strengths. What would happen if we reversed that pattern? And acknowledged our strength by asking ourselves the following:


What are you a natural at? What comes easily to you that others struggle with? Find and leverage that ability.

What does reflection tell you? Spend time in reflection, then make a list of the five things you consistently get great feedback on.

What makes you feel good? Unlike working on what we need to improve, which drains our energy, working from strength makes us happy. Think about the things you do that make you happy. Read Full Article>>   

The Role of Workplace Optimism in Building Trust

Without trust extraordinary results aren't possible. Without trust and extraordinary results workplace optimism is absent. Without workplace optimism talented people stay away from or leave companies. What's left? Mediocre results, missed goals and unhappy people.


Workplace optimism is not a viewpoint or belief system. It's a cultural vibe that influences a positive work experience. The outcomes of workplace optimism deepen and expand trust. Let's look at the relationship.


Workplace Optimism and Trust Building
According to Interaction Associates' survey results, 80% of employees believed they couldn't do their jobs effectively if trust in their leadership was absent. Bottom line, business results would be negatively impacted. The statistic isn't alarming. The lack of inaction by management to rectify their behaviors and shift the culture is alarming, however. This is where workplace optimism comes in to play. 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
Time is Running Out - Save Big on our 2014 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 combined 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!
Be a Positive Deviant: SOAR, Don't SWOT
Root Cause Analysis of Success
Destiny in Appreciative Coaching: Appreciative Process as Action Planning
The Future of Work is Social - Relationships are the Core
7 Assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry
New Thought Leadership on Building Enterprises for Meaningful Contribution
Maybe the Question is the Answer?
Why You Should Play on Your Strengths - Not Focus on Your Weaknesses
Change Management Requires Leadership Clarity and Alignment
Join our EOC Community - Free for 90 Days
Time is Running Out - Save Big on our 2014 Appreciative Inquiry 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:
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 Event Page >> 

Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry: Creating What Will Be
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada  
Dates: December 4-5, 2014 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) 
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada  
Dates: February 10-13, 2015   

Appreciative Inquiry Coaching Training (AICT) 
Where: Cape Town, South Africa   
Dates: March 16-20, 2015    
View Company of Experts' Entire Event Calendar
here >>
Recent Tweets

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." - Robert Louis Stevenson     


5 Alternate Questions You Should Be Asking; What are other examples of questions we can ask? --

What are the values that effect & sustain & ?  
We've added new books to our library. What books have you found helpful that we should add?


When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps. --Confucius  

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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