Company of Experts, Inc.

Always Appreciating What's Good...

August 2012

Company of Experts Consulting Services


Who doesn't like watching the Olympics? For a brief moment in time we focus our attention to the strengths and athletic abilities of individuals around the world. During the Olympic Games, athletes share their trials, tribulations, sacrifices and successes that lead them to the 2012 Olympics - allowing us to celebrate in their persistence and success. To see them with such focus, passion and commitment gives the gift of hope to all mankind; hope that the impossible is possible. As Colin Powell beautifully said, "A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work."


To make the Olympic team for one's country is an amazing feat that many strive for but few accomplish. That accomplishment is something each athlete will carry with them for the rest of their lives. While country dominance made the news, the back story of so many athletes was the STORY. The games were thrilling, but the real energy was listening to where they have been and what they want to achieve. The common themes from these stories, I believe, was to be open to possibilities, be creative, dream big, collaborate, design a plan, work your plan and achieve.


We hope you enjoy this month's newsletter which is full of positive, strength-based stories and articles from around the world. Join us in celebrating what's right with the world.    




Kathy Becker, President and CEO,

Company of Experts 

Welcome to the AI Community!!

Company of Experts is pleased to introduce its newest Certified Appreciative Inquiry Facilitators (CAIF) to its growing AI family. 

The individual(s) listed below participated in our 4-day Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) 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 blog, so check back often to see what new stories have been posted. Click here for more practicums.  

Leadership in Appreciative Inquiry: Diana Whitney

'Every organisation needs a positive revolution'.  With this strong statement - a variation on the great Thomas Jefferson quote - renowned AI consultant and author Diana Whitney opens her keynote. She explains: "In an era where we need co-creativity, Appreciative Inquiry just fits very well. Leaders nowadays worry about questions like: 'How do I engage our people? And our customers?', 'How do I build bridges?' AI helps with exactly those questions."


"A quote from one of my teachers that I always remembered is: "Learn to live and work in the energetically positive. Understand and do what gives life to the people." And that to me is exactly what AI is about: we focus on those things that enhance energy, vitality, wellbeing to a system."


Leadership is very important to the AI process. To Diana, "Leadership is a story of why things happen, (or not)... It is not about a person." She has the audience reflect on leadership in AI processes and key elements that characterized it. After a few minutes of buzzing, she collect some of the words.  "Letting go of egos, trust, being AI, ..." She embraces the words that the audience comes up with: "It is important to continually enrich our vocabulary of leadership." Read Full Article>>  

5 Quick Ways You Can Bring Positive Psychology to Your Workplace
Business leaders can take seemingly small steps to improve the psyche of their employee - changing the overall working environment.


In any business setting, employees are the most important asset. The current economic situation and tightening job markets have increased stress in the workplace. While some employers are using this to their short term advantage-often by using intimidation or uncertainty to spurn productivity-the bulk of recent scholarship warns against this.


According to many reports, employees who feel satisfied, valued, and happy at work typically do far better than those who feel disgruntled or overlooked. These findings have led many corporate officers to implement "positive psychology" techniques in their workplaces. Some of these techniques require professional expertise to carry out, but the majority can be done by anyone, in any type of office setting. Read Full Article>> 

Changing Organizational Culture: Do You Do it Top-Down or Ground-Up?
What works better? Bottom-up culture change? Or Top-Down?


The importance of company culture continues to get more and more coverage in the press, in research studies, and an organizational implementation and resources.

This pleases me immensely, and yet I'm still concerned when I see articles that focus on adding an executive-level position of culture chief. Done right, this can be a powerful role to marshal resources, but it also runs the risk of communicating a top-down approach to culture.

What works better? Bottom-up culture change aligned with organization strategy and goals as discussed in the Harvard Business Review in the article "Culture Change that Sticks" by Jon R. Katzenback, Ilona Steffen, and Caroline Kronley.
Read Full Article>>
Narration is Only the First Step
"The truth will not set us free until we have the courage to use it" ~ Author Unknown.


I think that narration is one of the key principles of an effective networked workplace, or social business. Narration is making one's tacit knowledge (what one feels) more explicit (what one is doing with that knowledge). Narrating work is a powerful behavior changer, as long-term bloggers can attest. In an organization, narration can take many forms. It could be a regular blog; sharing day-to-day happenings in activity streams; taking pictures and videos; or just having regular discussions. Developing good narration skills, like adding value to information, takes time and practice. Narrating work also means taking ownership of mistakes.


Jane Bozarth discusses the nuts and bolts of narrating our work in this Learning Solutions Magazine article:

By sharing what we are doing and how we are learning, we distribute the tacit knowledge otherwise so hard to capture; invite feedback and encouragement from others; invite others to learn with us; document our work and learning for future use; and tie our learning to the efforts of others. Here's a true story about physical rehab turned learning turned hobby turned community of practice turned two successful businesses, all via informal, social means. And all within six months. Read Full Article>> 

The Key Missing Ingredient in Leadership Today
"We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give." ~ Winston Churchill


Most leadership writing today advises us on how to prosper within the system or perhaps even on flourishing despite of the system. What's missing? Real leadership is about transforming the system.   


Leadership is not merely about success. Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King were great leaders, not because they were successful within their different worlds, or even because they were successful despite the constraints of their worlds. They were great leaders because they transformed their worlds.  Read Full Article>> 

The Best Fiscal Stimulus: Trust
How the potent hormone of empathy, oxytocin, is shaking up the field of economics

The neuroeconomist Paul Zak is driving west along Interstate 10 on a gorgeous Southern California morning. As we pass emerald hillsides, glowing from recent rains, and the snow-blanketed ridges of the San Gabriel Mountains, Zak talks about how standard economics neglects the biological mechanisms of trust that underlie myriad human interactions. "Why people cooperate - why people are altruistic - is a huge question," he says. "When you think about how much of the world works on a handshake or on holding a door open for somebody in an airport, all that kind of falls through the cracks in economics."


Zak and his collaborators at Claremont Graduate University have found that oxytocin, a hormone produced in the brain that promotes human bonding, plays a powerful role in shaping how generous people are. He calls it "the moral molecule." "It's a whole different model," Zak says. "It tells us why global commerce works - because there is a motivation to reciprocate." Read Full Article>>  

How to Interweave Micro Practices in Daily Conversations

Highlight in the already enlightening dialogue between Ken Gergen and Danielle Zandee was their little play about how conversations can degenerate, and how to prevent this - or even turn them into a generative alternative. Subsequently, Danielle asked the audience to think about ways to 'interweave' or 'interlock' the micro practices into day to day conversations, and make them sustainable. Besides the fact that Ken was struggling with the challenge to keep the practices 'fresh', one could question Danielle's question, referring to the great philosopher Richard Rorty and his theory around the contingency of language.  


In fact, he suggests (!) that we are simply unable to 'interlock' practices in the conversation, because conversation itself is an in-between-emerging process, causing the language to develop, including the interpretations and meanings. You could say then that we have a solution to Ken's struggle, because conversation itself undergoes renewal. But I'm afraid this renewal does not always move into a generative direction, so to speak. I love Rorty's book title 'Take care of freedom, and truth will take care of itself'.


Imagine micro practices taking care of their generativity themselves...!

Read Full Article>>

Participants Praise Appreciative Inquiry Process
Participants of a recent Appreciative Inquiry (AI) conversation aimed at discovering best practices to employ people who have a developmental disability are praising the process.

The AI conversation took place during Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI)'s general meeting June 27, and engaged more than 50 people including people supported by BACI,  staff and families.

The process asked participants to take part in small group conversations to answer "appreciative" questions recalling and imagining inclusive employment at its best. The conversations were facilitated by a table host who recorded the key insights and learnings. Read Full Article>>
How to Develop 5 Critical Thinking Types

Great leaders think strategically... 


They can understand and appreciate the current state as well as see possibilities. When dealing with today's issues, they operate from a broad, long-term perspective rather than focusing only on short-term implications. And they can gather information and make decisions in a timely manner.


Most of all, strategic leaders know how to strike a balance between visualizing what might or could be and an effective day-to-day approach to implementation. They can look into the future to see where the company needs to go and what it will look like once they get there. And they can do this while making sure the right things get done on a daily basis.


This type of strategic leadership requires five different types of thinking. Knowing when and how much to utilize each one is the hallmark of great leaders. Read Full Article>>

How Language Shapes Your Organization
In Appreciative Inquiry, language is important for constructing question, creating realities, and shaping work environments for you and others.

Cultural permission is the tone, attitude and language that emanates from the executive suite. It is a mantra, expressed in oft-used catch phrases and philosophies that move like waves through the organization. They get adopted and interpreted as actions to be followed. They become part of everyday lexicon and cultural idioms that people hear coming from the highest levels, and form a platform for what the organization believes and expects of its people. "Get it done!" "We will not be denied." "Take no prisoners!" These are just a few of the things I heard coming up in the business world, and from my perspective, no good came from any of them.


As a former New Yorker, now a London resident, it has been nearly impossible to avoid the drama of News Corporation's phone hacking scandal, which has shuttered a more than 100-year-old newspaper and, even as of this writing, has executives and politicians alike running for cover. It is yet another in a catalog of companies caught up in the misdeeds of their people. I was struck by the steadfast claims of executives that they had no knowledge of inappropriate acts, and certainly had not condoned any inappropriate actions. Yet, the inappropriate behavior seems to have happened not just randomly, but systemically. Read Full Article>> 

Corporate Leadership and the Power of a Good Story

It has not, on the whole, been a good month for global political leadership. Commentators and NGOs were sharpening their knives even before the worlds' heads of government - or rather, their deputies' deputies - convened at Rio for an underwhelming Earth Summit. Meanwhile, the still-unresolved Euro crisis illustrates that even when the crisis at hand is more immediate, prevarication and delay can still seem more appealing than bold and potentially controversial measures to politicians faced with fearful electorates. The irony is that in shrinking from offering leadership, they start to look irrelevant to the people they represent. A dangerous development.


But if we no longer expect politicians to lead, what about business? The bad news is that GlobeScan's global polling shows that the corporate world fares little better, with many consumers, particularly in the world's industrialised economies - disinclined to trust it. And yet business is seen as having a pivotal role to play in solving the world's problems. It joins an unholy trinity of three institutions - the media, government and companies - whose potential impact in solving global problems is thought to be significant, but who lack public confidence. Read Full Article>>

New Workshops To Be Scheduled
Dates of new workshops to be announced soon...

Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry: Creating What Will Be
This two-day introduction Appreciative Inquiry (AI) workshop 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.

Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner Training (AIPT)
In this highly experiential workshop, participants will become immersed in the practice of facilitating clients in identifying what gives life to their human systems in ways that build agile, adaptive and innovative organizations. Together, participants will experience an advanced community of practice where they can identify their personal strengths as AI facilitators, enhance their contracting skills, and expand their capacity to design and lead AI initiatives that result in accelerated, sustainable change with measurable outcomes. Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences and participate in dialogues drawn from their actual experiences while in the field.
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 or Sara for more information.

In This Issue
Welcome to the AI Community
Leadership in Appreciative Inquiry: Diana Whitney
5 Quick Ways You Can Bring Positivity to Your Workplace
Changing Organizational Culture: Do You Do it Top-Down or Ground-Up?
Narration is Only the First Step
The Key Missing Ingredient in Leadership Today
The Best Fiscal Stimulus: Trust
How to Interweave Micro Practices in Daily Conversations
Participants Praise Appreciative Inquiry Process
How to Develop 5 Critical Thinking Types
How Language Shapes Your Organization
Corporate Leadership and the Power of a Good Story
Free Downloads
Upcoming Events
Recent Tweets
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)
Place: Cape Town, South Africa 
Dates: August 27 - 30, 2012
This event is full.
Another AIFT in South Africa has been scheduled for 2013. Click here for more information.

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada 
Dates: September 24 - 27, 2012 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Rockville, Maryland 
Dates: October 15 - 17, 2012 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Kingwood, Texas  
Dates: Oct. 30 - Nov. 2, 2012 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada 
Dates: November 13 - 16, 2012 

Department Chair Institute (DCI)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada 
Dates: February 13 - 15, 2013  

View Company of Experts' Entire Event Calendar here >>
Recent Tweets

Civility is an Ethical Issue. Responsible leaders know that civility is the minimum standard for how we should...   


Did you know Google is in the process of making the SEO industry obsolete, SEO will be dead in 2 years. Are you...  


Interesting and Thought-Provoking Article: How Women Lead Differently & Why It Matters  


"Each step along the path is another step closer to something that feels unbelievable at this moment."   


According to the IBM 2010 Global CEO Study, the ability to embody creative leadership is among the most important...  


"Change is never linear. It goes forward in some respects, backwards in others" ~ Noam Chomsky

Great article "Profit vs. Principle: The Neurobiology of Integrity". Enjoy!  
Videos Worth Watching

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.  


The Story of Change

Description: why citizens (not shoppers) hold the key to a better world 

LinkedIn Conversations:

Using Props

As AI consultants, we try and create the space and opportunity for participants to engage in visual creation. What types of props do you like to have available to support their creativity (outside of flip charts and markers), and what do you find is a "favorite" prop among your groups? 


For those of you who have worked with organizations, what approach do you use when wanting to introduce Appreciative Inquiry to an organization? And can you measure?

We know that the Planning or Advisory team supports the development of the appreciative inquiry initiative by linking the change agenda to the organization's culture, values, and unique needs. We also know the teams can vary in size and should be representative of external and internal stakeholders. Given their importance to the success of the change agenda, what do you like to do to help them get ready for their role on the team?

What type of Appreciative Inquiry changes do you love doing?
We know that appreciative inquiry is useful across a variety of change agendas (e.g.g changing organizational culture, enhancing engagement, using it for strategic planning, etc.). What change agendas have you found that you naturally gravitate toward?


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!

Inspirational Quotes

"It's not so much the wording in our dialogue but the silence as well. Just like beautiful music, the spacing between a conversation establishes its context & meaning. This is what set apart a great dialogue from an unproductive conversation." 

~ Author Unknown   


"Last night I saw a picture of the most beautiful future imaginable. You were in the picture"    

~ Brian Piergrossi, Author 


"What others say about you is not a reflection of you. It's a reflection of their world" 

~ Author Unknown


"The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers, but above all the world needs dreamers who do

~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

"Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well" 

~ Voltaire
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.   

Follow Company of Experts

Like us on Facebook  View our profile on LinkedIn  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTube

Follow The Center for Appreciative Inquiry

Like us on Facebook  View our profile on LinkedIn  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTube

Follow The Department Chair Institute

Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter 

Join Our Mailing List