Like many of you in the AI field, I have practiced Appreciative Inquiry for a number of years. During this time I have taught Appreciative Inquiry, consulted using Appreciative Inquiry, and have developed Appreciative Inquiry workshops on behalf of the Center for Appreciative Inquiry. At the end of 2013, I had the opportunity to participate in the Appreciative Inquiry Coaching Training (AICT). I did not have any experience coaching, but being a life-long learner, was excited about participating in this highly-experiential workshop.
I learned so much in this training, not just about AI, but about myself. It strengthened the skill sets and strengths I already possess, and has made me a better person, consultant and coach as a result of it. I highly recommend this training for individuals seeking to improve their conversations with themselves and with others. It helped me to see, appreciate, and celebrate the good in others which has directly impacted my relationships with myself, family, friends, colleagues and the World for the better.
I invite you all to explore the Center for Appreciative Inquiry’s website to learn more about this amazing workshop (click here). If you have questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I would be happy to share my experience.
Appreciative inquiry (AI) consulting is the practice of amplifying and proliferating what people at your company already do well rather than attempting to fix what’s broken. It’s been billed as the opposite of problem solving, and from a business owner’s perspective that’s got to sound weird at best, and destructive at worst. Ironically there are plenty of good reasons to give it a shot. Let’s take a look at what makes appreciative inquiry an effective method, and why you might want to look into it.
Creating A Positive Attitude
First and most obvious, drawing focus on the positive aspects of a workforce’s performance will help to improve morale, promote pride in their work, and motivate them to work harder. Taking away the threat of being caught as part of the ever present and ambiguous “problem” can greatly reduce stress on the average worker and actually reduce a large number of attitude related problems without ever actually addressing them. But that’s not the point of AI; the goal is to take the focus off of the problem and instead think about improvement and innovation.
The first step in improving your organization through AI is to use it to encourage open communication. While most managers verbally encourage communication, they don’t actually build an environment that welcomes it because they’ll still have a “problem solving” attitude. When we’re focusing on what might be deficient in a group of workers they’re going to respond naturally, by getting defensive, shutting down, and trying to find a way to blame co-workers. Building the positive attitude mentioned above let’s team members feel like they’re not in trouble, and that improvement is a team effort rather than something that gets pushed down from the top. Ask someone what they do well (rather than finding issues to nitpick) and they’ll be happy to talk about it and think about ways to amplify those qualities.
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What are your Words of Wisdom (W.O.W.) for up-and-coming Learning and Development (L&D) Professionals?
I have 3 questions and would love to hear WOW from professionals at any stage.
- What’s one thing you wish you knew when you first started (as an L&D Professional)?
- What’s the greatest piece of practical advice you’ve been given (as an L&D Professional)?
- What’s one book/curriculum piece that made all of the difference in your ability to train and develop others?
“Appreciative Inquiry Is Not (Just) About The Positive,” written by Gervase R. Bushe, Ph.D., is a popular article circulated amongst AI enthusiasts. Many readers find the article useful in providing additional insight about the generative nature of Appreciative Inquiry; however, the title – at face value – can baffle newcomers. What do you mean AI is not about the positive? Their confusion is understandable. One of the five original principles of Appreciative Inquiry, for example, is named the Positive Principle. Confusion can also stem from the words of Dr. David Cooperrider, the founder of Appreciative Inquiry. In one of his many writings regarding Innovation-inspired Positive Organisational Development (IPOD), Cooperrider reinforces the connection between Appreciative Inquiry and other Positive Organisational Systems thinking.
So, is AI positive or is it not?
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