Archive for 2012

Words Create Worlds ® – December 2012 Newsletter

As we reflect on all that has happened over this past year, we are so appreciative of the opportunity to work with each of you. The challenges have ignited in us the fuel to inquire, reflect and focus on outcomes drawing upon our strengths. In this New Year, we will continue to work with organizations and individuals to “change the way we think about change” and to “facilitate a sustainable future regardless of the challenges”. We won’t ignore the challenges or deny the problems; however, by initially adapting to change we create dreams of opportunity.

This year we had the pleasure of meeting many new and memorable individuals. Our experience with each of you made this year one to remember. We were also blessed with the opportunity to meet people and to participate in many fun and fulfilling projects around the World. We have been honored by the hospitality and warmth of people from Belgium, Qatar, Spain, France, Haiti, Jamaica, Netherlands, Australia, Columbia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, South Korea, Uganda and in the U.S.(Alabama, California, Nevada, Oregon, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Texas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Montana, Arizona, Florida, Virginia, Washington State, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania) and all Canadian provinces.

Begin the New Year by asking yourself a question that will focus on the best of what you want in the future. Start by reflecting on this past year. Share a story about a time that you felt most thankful…one that felt most warm and meaningful. Who was there? What made it so wonderful? What made it so special?

We thank you for sharing your stories with us – we laugh, we learn, and are amazed at the engagement and excitement that we hear from you. The stories you share bring such light into our office and to our work. This coming year, we see the door of opportunity opening for so many of you – and we look forward to walking the journey with you.


Words Create Worlds ® – November 2012 Newsletter

November is the month of Thanksgiving! For our friends that reside outside of the U.S., Thanksgiving is a National holiday in the U.S. and is a time for family, friends, thankfulness, and reflection. A day set aside to be thankful and, more importantly, to let others know that you are thankful.  In this time of economic and environmental uncertainty, it may be a challenge for some to be grateful. Yet, just like Fall in the air, we are getting a slight whisper of change.

We invite each of you to join in the high energy and well-being that gratitude brings to each of us. Thankful for love, family, friends, health, happiness, children, food, flowers – the list is as bountiful as your imagination and heart can dream. Each of us can begin by asking ourselves and our friends a question that will focus on the best of what we want in the future, “Think back over this past year and share a story about a time that you felt most thankful…one that felt most warm and meaningful. Who was there? What made it so wonderful? What made it so special?”

Have a wonderful and bountiful week. We thank each of you for sharing your stories of success – seeking the high points to learn, adapt and thrive. Your stories bring such light into our office and to our work.


Words Create Worlds ® – October 2012 Newsletter

As I turned the calendar to ‘October’ my mind wondered if somehow this was a trick. Where has the year gone? We have so much to be grateful for. In addition to our family and friends, we have the wonderful ability to work with outstanding people and their organizations. We just concluded a training here in Las Vegas that has left a warm imprint on our hearts (as most of them do). What creates an environment where the learning is so deep, the possibilities so grand with a passionate design for the future? Some may say it is the trainers/facilitators, others will say it is the training materials, and others believe it is the participants. We like to believe that it is what the collective group brings to the circle that makes the environment conducive for rich interaction and learning. An open mind and heart, a genuine interest in learning (not just knowing), trust and an intention of being the best, not just in the world but for the world. Most of our trainings have these elements.

This year, we have had so many high energy, high value moments – leading us to believe that we are beginning to emerge from the darkness of the recession. Just like all of life, we have training failures. In the moment, it can quite devastating. We know what is possible and we want it all of the time. What makes those times different? We speculate and seek counsel from others. In the end, what seemed so abysmal is our opportunity to learn and learning is what gives us passion. The more we can be honest with ourselves, acknowledge our own imperfections, the more we can accept those imperfections of others. That is when we begin to understand empathy, sympathy, and compassion. We begin to understand that humility does not mean thinking less of oneself, but rather to understand our limitations, appreciate our strengths, and acknowledge the value that each of us brings to the World.

Staying open to see the possibilities is important to our happiness, health and general wellbeing. What helps me is to spend time reflecting on what gave me joy during the day, and equally fulfilling is giving others joy. Be open to the moments when someone helps you – like the cashier at the grocery store, the receptionist at the Department of Motor Vehicles or the secretary at your child’s school – and show them your appreciation. Ask them, “What was the best thing that happened today?” or “What excites you most about your job?” You may hear something like “no one has ever asked me that question before”. Be genuine in your interest, listen with your heart and you may discover that this exercise is the most joyful moment of your day.

We invite each of you to join in the high energy and well-being that gratitude, compassion, and generosity brings to each of us. As always, we thank each of you for sharing your stories of success – seeking the high points to learn, adapt, and thrive – your stories always bring such light into our office and to our work. Please keep sending us your personal stories of success via email, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.


National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign, each October to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?”  We are proud to support this campaign. Learn more at www.dol.gov/odep/

Company of Experts had the distinct honor of working with Disability Rights Nebraska for the past few years.  Working with DRN has been a personal highlight for us. An outstanding organization who have a deep love and commitment to creating a just and equal community. We have so much to celebrate as our communities have changed for the good over the years in structure, processes and culture through awareness.  This is from the DRN Website:

Our vision for the future is clear: All people with mental or physical disabilities are valued in their community, have control over their own lives, and have the necessary resources to live a life of quality.

That vision is captured in three words: dignity, equality and empowerment.

We start the first year of our new Five Year Strategic Plan this coming year. Our strategic plan was developed using a process called Appreciative Inquiry.

Appreciative Inquiry grounded by: 1) What you see, you find more of – the more positive and inspiring the strategy development, the more innovative ideas will be created and possibilities that can be explored, and 2) People commit to what they help create – the more participative the plan development, the more committed people will be to the success of the plan.

The process was focused on what our organization would look like if it were designed to maximize and preserve the themes lifted from those we interviewed – our internal partners and external allies.

Six priority areas emerged that captured the possibility of hope that was discovered from the interviews. These priority areas will be the framework for our efforts during the next five years:

  • Protecting and Advocating for Human and Legal Rights

Seeking justice for people with disabilities; ensuring safety, personal integrity, self-determination

  • Leading Change within the Community

Working with people with disabilities to create meaningful, authentic inclusion in communities of choice

  • Empowering Others to Achieve Full Participation

Always mindful of the motto: “Nothing about us without us”; really listening to others, acting with compassion, and building trusting relationships; supporting people’s hopes, dreams and things not yet imagine

  • Building Relationships in the Community

Maintaining our integrity through respectful, honest communication and teamwork; valuing connections with community partners

  • Valuing and Appreciating Diversity

Respecting the strength of difference and diversity Valuing the energy, creativity and enthusiasm others bring to achieving our shared vision

  • Cultivating Opportunities

Engaging in potent, relevant, effective, and expansive advocacy

 From the DRN website: http://www.disabilityrightsnebraska.org/about_us/strategicplan.html

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Last October I shared in our newsletter that “This will be the first time I will say “yes” on any a family medical history when asked about Breast Cancer. My sister was diagnosed with Breast cancer this year”. Update: Still cancer free, my sister is thriving. Our family is appreciative for the early detection and treatment that contributes to her continued health.  We cannot be more grateful to those who have contributed in the past and encourage you to visit the Breast Cancer Awareness site and see how you might join in any way possible to raise awareness. Most importantly outreach about the importance of early detection to those in your life. To learn more:  http://www.nbcam.org/

Let’s Generate Positive Dialogue for 2012 Election

Words Create Worlds® (WCW)
A series of short conversations leading up to the U.S. election in 2012 meant to enliven generative dialogue with a positive intent.

This past week, during a training, a request was made of us – please send a message out to encourage people to write to the White House, to politicians, as well as to others who are interested in constructive, positive dialogue about the future of the U.S!

These four days were devoted to our internationally recognized Four Day Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training©, an introduction to the Power of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and specifically to the Power of the Principles of AI — learning about the benefits of Positive focus and Positive language.

These are not trainings focused on politics; rather trainings for leaders and others who are seeking methods and models for organizational change and positive dialogue. Change that engages, seeks out the best in people and organizations, is collaborative in nature and focuses on the good in all of us. The people who attend this training want to feel good about their work; to work in organizations that they share values with; and to be in an organization that strives to do good for the world community.

This request for us to become leaders in the national dialogue is not new to this training. We are a small group of committed people seeking change and if we look to the words of Margaret Mead, we know that this is where change begins.  We are reaching out to our community now as we see the political rhetoric reach new levels of negativity.  Please write to the White House, President Obama, Governor Romney and any and all of your legislative leaders – in Washington D.C. or at the State Level. Encourage them to change the tone.

Encourage our leaders to adopt a tone of hope, possibility, and encouragement. Encourage them to share with us their vision for our country, for our future. We need no less from our current and our future leaders. For wisdom, insight and guidance, search out the words of past leaders who have inspired our nation in times of challenge and opportunity.

There is sufficient data and research supporting the benefits of positive conversation. As people we thrive when our positive to negative words are at a 3:1 ratio (Positivity Ratio). We each want to thrive and we want our country to thrive. We need leaders who can lift the conversation, take decisive action toward a future that we can visualize and live into.

We recommend a book for each of us:  We Can All Do Better, by Bill Bradley.  It is well written, honest and understandable. Bradley sets the stage that “We The People” must engage in dialogue that is for the best for the Country. To set the tone.  “People see Washington irrevocably divided into two warring camps that care more about political advantage than about the Country” (Bradley 18).

The need for positive dialogue has reached a crucial level; we cannot make the substantive changes necessary unless we do. Join us for more positive dialogue by sending a letter or email to President Obama and Governor Romney. Don’t stop there. Send a letter or email to each of your representatives at the Local, State and Federal level. We each, no matter our political affiliation, have visions and dreams for the future. What do we really want? Like athletes at the Olympics last month, each of us can look at the greater good, focus on what we want more of. What would that look like if it were happening all of the time, right here, right now?

Email is a good way to start; writing a letter is an excellent way to really get their attention! Here is some contact information for:

Our intention is to spark positive dialogue. To be part of the dialogue about Appreciative Inquiry, join us on our LinkedIn group – Discovering Appreciative Inquiry. We also invite you to visit our website at https://www.centerforappreciativeinquiry.net or join us on YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter #WCW2012.

Words Create Worlds ® – August 2012 Newsletter

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.


Words Create Worlds ® – May 2012 Newsletter

The fifth World Appreciative Inquiry Conference (WAIC), held in Ghent Belgium, is over, but what a magical and wonderful experience us. The theme of this conference emphasized Appreciative Inquiry (AI) as a theory and practice of connecting people and generating new possibilities. Unlike any other process, AI helps us to understand, to build, and to enhance interconnectedness.

With over 600 people from over 45 countries in attendance, the possibility for opportunities was great – almost overwhelming one’s senses. From this conference, we learned it is important for us (collectively) to bring experiences of positivity, encouragement, and hope into mainstream business, transcending and transforming old structures into coherent, resilient networks of professionals that bring out and connect the best of their capacities. This newsletter contains several appreciative resources that can be used to help spark innovation and jump-start this positive movement.

“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” ~ Niccolo Machiavelli


A Learner’s View on Global Appreciative Inquiry Gathering

Are you looking for an approach to change that moves beyond incremental steps of change? Do you recall bringing opposites together in a fruitful conversation?

Crafting questions, active listening, looking for “lived” experiences that help to explore the future. These are just some of the learning dimensions that emerged for me from the World Appreciative Inquiry Conference held April 25-28 in Ghent, Belgium.

For several days, practitioners and learners of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) rubbed shoulders with founding elders of this positive approach to change.

My highlights: AI is firmly grounded in how we construct our daily life and reality. Enactment of key concepts, such as dialogue; generative design and connections and the AI summit were woven into the conference program. There was a rallying call for working towards the beckoning horizon of what is possible and not to get bogged down by reverting to past history of mistakes, failures, and pessimism. Read Full Article>>

Written by Russell Kerkhoven (writer for Axiom News) on May 24, 2012

Storytelling Scales Up Change in Business

Since 2003, Brazil has had a yearly conference where business people gather and share stories about how they succeed in creating benefits for society and their business. Ilma Barros, the energizer behind this effort, says the initiative has inspired other organisations to increase their societal awareness. The organisers have also discovered that the companies telling the stories scale up their societal efforts after presenting at the conference.

A year after one conference, Ilma inquired into the effects the gathering had on the presenting companies. “The companies told us that after the conference, they generated new and interesting partnerships, and even a whole new way of building these partnerships,” she says.

“They also reported an impact on the growth of their business. And it was definitely clear that presenting at the conference propelled more positive exchange and dissemination of their good practices.”

These conferences have also had a remarkable effect on the image of the organisations, leading to more opportunities for projects.  “With the help of the media, they shifted their way of reporting on this issues,” says Ilma.

It is clear that storytelling can scale up change in business and society. Through stories, we can connect business interests to societal issues.  There are lots of opportunities out there. It is like Peter Drucker said: “Every single social and global issue we face is a business opportunity in disguise”.

Business has the opportunity to be a new creative force on the planet that could contribute to the wellbeing of people and planet. Through the sharing of stories of creative initiatives that are already taken, we can scale up this generative power.

Written by: Griet Bouwen. Article was originally published on the 2012WAIC website on April 27, 2012.