Congratulations to nine newly certified AI Facilitators: Lesa Cathcart, Rutland Regional Medical Center; Sue Cooney, Ascend LLC; Larry Coleman & Judy Snyder, Community College of Baltimore County; Deborah DeGan-Dixon, State Fair Community College; Nicholas Holton, Kirtland Community College; Suzanna Stephan, ELIA Resources; Margaret Syverson, The University of Texas at Austin; and Ann Tate, San Jacinto College South.
AIFT Schedule for October 2008 through March 2009. The schedule is updated as new trainings are added. You can check our website and click on the events calendar.
For the open AIFT’s listed below – You can attend a refresher if you like for the cost of materials and food only.
Dates & Locations:
October 13 – 16, 2008 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Walnut Creek, CA
November 3 – 6, 2008 Springfield Technical Community College, Springfield, MA
March 2 – 5, 2009 Church of the Holy Cross, Hilo, HI
We are excited to announce that our next two AIFT© trainings have confirmed – Walnut Creek, CA & Springfield, MA.
We held a number of closed AIFT’s this summer – organizations that are developing new planning models – We are looking for great stories from each of these organizations.
We are planning our 2009 schedule and are looking for Hosts
Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Our successful four-day program designed to train facilitators.
Leadership Development Institute
A series of one-half day programs offered on-site to your leadership team. A two-day leadership program based on appreciative inquiry is also available.
Department Chair Institute
The DCI has outstanding content and has the same high quality as the AIFT.
If you would like to talk about a program on-site or if you would like to attend one of the trainings, email Kathy@companyofexperts.net. We are looking to add to our schedule currently under development.
New Book on Appreciative Inquiry
Nancy Stetson’s new book is out and available for purchase! Nancy has worked closely with community colleges engaging them and encouraging them to look toward the future and build on their strengths with Appreciative Inquiry.
Stories of Positive Change in the Community College: Appreciative Inquiry in Action published by the Company of Experts, Inc is now available as a soft-cover book and as a download. Nancy captures AI in action and producing outcomes using the stories of community colleges and translates this into an easy to read book that provides step by step answers to How Did They Do That! For more information or to purchase this new book, visit http://www.companyofexperts.net.
Newly Certified AI Facilitators
Lesa Cathcart attended the AIFT in Asheville, NC and set about to quickly implement her first inquiry. During a staff retreat, Lesa facilitated an Appreciative Inquiry with 21 people including: 2 community advisory board members, a psychologist who is also the director of the unit, 2 psychiatrists (one of whom is the medical director), nurses, discharge planners, social workers, a secretary, an occupational therapist, and a nurses aide.
FOR THE INQUIRY: Lesa used the paired interview format and the group produced the following Provocative Propositions: We challenge ourselves to provide an environment of complete respect for all persons on our unit- staff and patients alike; We have the courage to sustain an environment of personal growth and recovery based on a foundation of mutual respect; We embrace growth and adapt to foreseen and unforeseen change empathically and collaboratively through mutual respect, innovation, and empowering others by utilizing their strength; and We have the courage to advocate for personal growth and recovery, based on a foundation of mutual respect and compassion. They developed their strategic intentions as staff focused and patient focused.
LESA REPORTS: Since the staff retreat, there has definitely been a shift in attitude. Though I think there is still some disbelief that there will be follow through on the realization of the provocative propositions as a result of past history, I definitely see people more enthusiastic about moving forward. We have already put together a new group modality to increase programming on the unit, and I have seen staff working more collaboratively on the unit. We have instituted a teaming approach in which the psychiatrist, a nurse, and a discharge planner meet with the patient together, and that seems to be working well. I really feel that the AI process was exactly what our team needed to get motivated, and I think it was a huge success. I enjoyed watching the staff working collaboratively with one another regardless of what his/her discipline was, and it was great to see how much fun people were having. They were clearly energized and enthusiastic about creating a “preferred future” for the inpatient psychiatric unit.
LESA’S ON-GOING EFFORTS: I have made a commitment to the team to follow through on moving things forward. There was a statement made at the facilitator training that I attended about the words “thank-you” being two of the most powerful words you can use. I have thought about that a lot, and I have tried to be very mindful about putting this into practice in a way that communicates sincerity and gratitude. My “personal best” experience related to the inquiry was watching the participation among the groups in developing a shared image, and then having fun sharing it with the rest of the group. I can’t describe the excitement I felt as I stood back and watched this all take place. I really walked out of the room that day feeling like the day had been a success, and I felt proud of the work that I had been able to facilitate.
LESA attended the AIFT at Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College in North Carolina with Charles Miller and Mikki Davis (formerly Lynn) as the Trainers/Facilitators.
SUE COONEY attended the AIFT in Asheville, NC. Wow, another Asheville graduate who went into high gear to seek out her first inquiry!
SUE’S inquiry was with a manufacturing business that has undergone rapid expansion. With the rapid expansion, the organization faces the constant challenge of growing extraordinary leaders who can motivate and engage today’s workforce. This organization is highly customer focused and prides itself on innovation. Internal stakeholders are encouraged to provide suggestions for continuous improvement.
The core group consisted of 10 supervisors from across the organization and included people with significant experience as well as relatively new supervisors.
The positive topic that the core group identified was training and education which they arrived at by brainstorming, discussing, and agreeing. All participants believed training and education was a core need for creating a workplace that motivated its people. They also believed that this was one place where they could potentially affect change.
FOR THE INQUIRY: They modified the interview guide and used face to face paired interviews to inquire into exceptionally positive moments. Sue reports that in some interviews, it seemed as though people felt that the process was seeking a “right answer.” Editor’s note: Sue did an excellent job of explaining the process as outlined in her presentation. My recommendation is to include the instructions on the interview guide as well. It helps to reinforce the deep listening.
After conducting the interviews and sharing stories in small groups, what the group MOST wanted to create MORE of was:
• Commitment (on both parts – trainer and trainee)
The energy (positive core) of the group (after doing the scatter diagram) was in the areas of passion and teamwork (which is where the remainder of the discussion focused).
SUE REPORTS: The group seemed to have a great time creating their visual images and that her biggest wish for the inquiry was that people would approach the process with an open mind. I did kick the session off with discussion of the uniqueness of this approach and a request to stretch themselves beyond what might be their customary way of thinking about issues and change. I also hoped that the process would flow and that people would have best experiences to reflect on.
SUE’S ON-GOING EFFORTS: As a full time educator and facilitator, I found the facilitation part of the process to be very comfortable. My “personal best” experience related to facilitating the inquiry came in the bold idea phase. By asking questions and proposing some alternative ways of thinking, it did seem to connect with people (based on comments and nonverbals). I am excited about integrating AI into my business, there is such a huge opportunity to integrate the appreciative approach into how learning and change are introduced into organizations.
SUE attended the AIFT at Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College in North Carolina with Charles Miller and Mikki Davis (formerly Lynn) as the Trainers/Facilitators. Sue did not have permission from this organization to share their story so we have carefully left out some detail.
LARRY COLEMAN AND JUDY SNYDER attended the AIFT in Baltimore and co-facilitated their inquiry with the Community Education Department within the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), one of the many smaller areas within the Continuing Education Division. Community Education makes life long learning accessible, convenient and enjoyable. The community education program of CCBC offers more than 3000 community education courses each year, reaching over 10,000 students.
FOR THE INQUIRY: Within the past few years CCBC had been going through a re-organization process which has deeply affected the staff members within the Community Education division of Continuing Education. A significant goal identified by the division leadership was to find a way to “help staff discover a positive method for coming together under new leadership” armed with a new strategic plan.
LARRY AND JUDY used face to face interviews to inquire into exceptionally positive moments at work. They approached the pairing of participants in an interesting manner: Participants were paired based on experience by asking staff members to line up according to their years of experience related to community education. At that point, the line was split in half and each of the two halves was asked to face each other in order to create a set of matching pairs. Since the number of people was an odd number one group on the end became a triad. The pairing served to match the less experienced with the more experienced persons.
LARRY AND JUDY REPORT: According to Dean Reihl, the Community Education Division utilized the Appreciative Inquiry training to assist in the division’s strategic planning process to help align its initiatives with the overall plan of the college. The success stories within the division revolved around the fact that “division employees believed their ideas would be included in a productive process to improve the function of the division.”
Giving People Hope:
Our students come to us with a wide range of needs. CCBC gives the tools to achieve, open doors and become successful. We provide vocational, academic and learning opportunities to instill in them a sense of hope, not just for the present, but for their lifelong journey.
We change lives by providing creative and supportive learning environments that enable people of all ages and backgrounds to grow personally and professionally.
CCBC provides creative training to visualize, maximize and actualize your dreams and wishes that turn fantasies into realities. It’s not magic . . . it’s CEED!
Community Education supports and nurtures all employees by providing an environment that encourages a quality learning experience through creativity, innovation, empowerment and growth.
Communication & Collaboration:
The Community Ed department of CCBC creates the bridge to our future. Communication and collaboration form the foundation of this bridge. Where do you want to go? Let’s cross the bridge together.
The CCBC experience is an empowering experience. We use our strength to strengthen others.
Enthusiasm to Serve:
Our passion is serving our colleagues, instructors, partners and students with respect, flexibility, innovation and creativity, sharing the joy, hope and promise that come from learning.
NOTES FROM LARRY:
I learned that while I was comfortable with the idea of Ai training, it was also important for me to understand the nuances and complexities of the Appreciative Inquiry Process. I also found that I needed the support of an accomplished co-facilitator (which I had in Judy Snyder) to effectively manage the numerous elements of the Ai process with this large group which numbered about fifty people. However I did learn that with effective planning this size group could be managed.
My personal best developed from a discussion I had with one of the small groups that wanted to work on new technologies to find ways to communicate better with colleagues within the division. This group came up with several innovative ideas about enhancing communication. It was helpful for me to learn that this group generated such valuable and creative ideas because they remained focused on the goal of creating bold ideas which could really make a difference for the division.
NOTES FROM JUDY:
Each time that I have done an AI facilitation, the purpose has been different. This was no exception. The first time, the group wanted to do some program development after the ending of a 3 year grant. The second time the supervisor wanted to heal some internal wounds and bridge the gap between two factions in a larger group that needed to work together. This time the supervisor wanted to spur further creativity among one of the more creative units at the college. Therefore, I knew that we would have to be equally as creative in our facilitation as well as highly flexible. I was pleased to be able to co-facilitate with Dr. Coleman since he is a great storyteller and had knowledge of new resources which I was able to add to my repertoire. The great thing about AI is that while it has a distinct format, it can be adapted to many different purposes. I was pleased that the supervisor reported that new energy was noted in the group long after our day together.
LARRY AND JUDY attended the AIFT at Community College of Baltimore County with Nancy Stetson and Earl Bloor as the Trainers/Facilitators.
DEBORAH DEGAN-DIXON attended the AIFT Houston, TX and facilitated her inquiry with the State Fair Community College Executive Leadership Team (ELT); this team is the president’s cabinet consisting of the president, vice-presidents, deans, and directors. ELT is responsible for the development of students and the organization, oversight of college operations and fiscal plant, and administration of college processes.
In previous ELT meetings, the group decided that the outcome of a retreat meeting would be to revise the college’s strategic plan and to develop a charter for the ELT. The topic was previewed by this team; the interview guide was determined by the chair/leader of the team-the president of the college. The topic around the positive topic was “positive contributions to an organization that utilized strengths.”
FOR THE INQUIRY: The ELT is a group of 11 so the group was split into two small groups. The small groups then paired up (with one pair having 3) and conducted face-to-face interviews.
They identified their Life-Giving Forces as:
Group 1: “We are a forward thinking goal-oriented & technologically sound institution centered on teamwork and empowering others.”
Group 2: “SFCC is a transformational organization dedicated to listening, collaborating, building consensus and changing in reaction to forces in and outside our world.”
DEBORAH REPORTS: Since the initial inquiry several vice-presidents have requested that she conduct inquires regarding the topic of positive contributions of team members. One VP specifically wants to use this exercise to help restructure the team/organizational structure; the idea is to focus on the strength area for each team member.
The progress made toward the strategic intentions have included:
- Positive inquiry at the tactical planning level
- Communication plan to gain input from campus community. The plan is to develop several listening posts around campus, on-line synchronous discussion, and message board discussion around the revised strategic plan. The plan will also allow for feedback to the feedback.
- The president has offered to write about the planning process utilization of the appreciative inquiry process in her weekly president’s pen to the campus community.
- The AQIP office has offered to share the same with the chairs of the AQIP Improvement Teams.
DEBORAH’S ON-GOING EFFORTS:
- Positive interaction and turn the “reluctant” into believers. It worked.
B. Learn about myself:
- This was a pretty natural process for me to deliver and I had several say that this was one of the best presentations-professional development sessions they have every attended.
- I asked the team to do some prep about AI so we could move into the workshop immediately. After some introduction and recall of material facilitation, the group was very willing to open up and take off.
C. Personal Best:
- Laughter during the shared images of the future. And this process really engaged people that might not have otherwise participated.
- Taking a break after the workshop to see that the chair (the president) had already incorporated the provocative proposition into the team’s charter.
DEBORAH DEGAN-DIXON attended the AIFT at Houston Community College with Nancy Stetson and Lane Glenn as the Trainers/Facilitators.
NICHOLAS HOLTON attended the AIFT in Houston in February. For his inquiry he facilitated a strategic planning session with the Northern Essex Community College (NECC) Service Learning Advisory Board in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The NECC Strategic planning meeting was April 4, 2008.
FOR THE INQUIRY: Northern Essex Community College is a two-campus community college in Haverhill and Lawrence, Massachusetts. The Haverhill campus is suburban while the Lawrence campus is urban. The college has been working to institutionalize service learning for a few years. I have been providing faculty training for this initiative. When I was invited to attend an advisory board meeting, I offered to host an Appreciative Inquiry strategic planning session.
NECC is familiar with Appreciative Inquiry and they welcomed the chance to use this to plan their service learning program. One of my facilitator co-trainers in Houston was Lane Glenn who is the Vice-President of Instruction at Northern Essex. When I told Lane of my intention to do an AI session with their service learning advisory board, he encouraged me to proceed. My contact at NECC is Sue Grolnic who is the Dean of Humanities and Social Science. She is familiar with Appreciative Inquiry and was delighted to participate in this, and she gave me permission to use this for my national AI certification.
The Service Learning Advisory Board consists of faculty and community members who support the service learning program and help set the direction of the initiative. Eleven people, including me, attended the AI strategic planning session. Advisory Board members included: Hugh Kelleher (business owner), David Strand (business owner), Peter Carbone (retired government agency executive), Joan Kulash (CEO of local nonprofit), and Barbara Canyes (Executive Director, Massachusetts Campus Compact). The NECC faculty representatives were Marcy Vozzella, CJ Crivaro, and Joe Rizzo. Other participants were Sue Grolnic (Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences) and Jaime Ormont (Americorp, VISTA). Note, Massachusetts Campus Compact is the state-wide organization for post secondary service learning and civic engagement for Massachusetts. NECC is extremely lucky to have the executive director for the state organization on their advisory board.
After a phone conversation with NECC about a month before the AI meeting, Sue determined that the purpose of the inquiry was to answer the following questions:
1. What is the role of the Advisory Board in the NECC Service Learning Program?
2. What are the ways that the Advisory Board will complement the work of the Service Learning Program?
Specifically, the intent of the inquiry was to have the advisory board be a complementary not an autocratic, body. Sue and I both wanted the advisory board to be able to not only provide good advice, but also provide real assistance to the service learning initiative at NECC. Thus, we decided that the goal would be how the board could supplement, complement, and nurture the existing service learning program to be the best it could be.
NICK REPORTS: After developing the most important themes, the group spent time pulling together their provocative statement that became the shared vision for the group. While the group wanted to put the statements in future tense, Nick kept them on course to stay in present tense and together they developed a strong statement about the state of service learning at NECC right now:
The Northern Essex Community College Advisory Board is committed to empowering, sustaining, and nurturing a Service Learning environment for all members of the community. We are dedicated to promoting and enhancing the Service Learning experience at Northern Essex Community College.
At the end of the summit, Nicholas asked for feedback from the group and he told us how powerful this was and how emotional the experience had been for some of the group members.
NICK’S ON-GOING EFFORTS: Since I have an ongoing faculty training commitment to NECC, I will be able to help their advisory board implement their new strategic plan. I have already had a couple of phone conversations about the process and the next steps. I helped them to plan their first student awards ceremony celebrating their outstanding community service students, and I hope to go back there in September or October for another advisory board meeting to regenerate the appreciative spirit created at our planning session.
In terms of my personal reflections, hopes and desires concerning the planning session, I really wanted to accomplish two major goals. First, I wanted to make sure the client was happy with the product. The comments of the Dean and the other participants lead me to believe I was successful. My second goal was to experience the Appreciative Inquiry process as a sole facilitator (ie: watching it work flying solo). After my facilitator training in Houston with my college team from Kirtland Community College, we had done a number of small AI exercises as a team with KCC people, but I had never been through the whole process by myself with people who were not my colleagues. It was a bit scary at first, but the training that Nancy Stetson and Lane Glenn instilled in me carried the day. In other words, “IT JUST WORKS!” I was excited and energized working with the NECC advisory board and I think they were too. I predict that they will be able to sustain the momentum of the meeting into the next year. I hope that I have the chance to follow up with them this fall and help them move their initiative forward.
Nicholas Holton attended the AIFT at Houston Community College with Nancy Stetson and Lane Glenn as the Trainers/Facilitators. Lane is Vice President of Instruction at NECC!
SUZANNA STEPHAN attended the AIFTs in Longview, WA and Atlantic City, NJ. With two trainings under her belt, Suzanna went to the dogs! For her practicum, Suzanna chose the non-profit Animal Rescue of Tidewater (ART). The organization told Suzanna that they wanted to “recharge” their membership. While the members were completely committed to the cause, they wanted to actively engage them, reactivate their passion and to allow the group the opportunity to initiate future objectives.
FOR THE INQUIRY: The core group of five active members including the founder and board members met to define their purpose and participated in an inquiry. Their positive topic for the summit was Celebrating Past Successes and Visioning the Future. ART invited their members to the planning session which would use Appreciative Inquiry. The core group identified stakeholders for this inquire as staff, board of directors, funders, government agencies, alliances, customers/clients, vendor, partner organizations and family members. Their interviews were paired, face to face and they modified the interview guide by asking questions like “What do you want to see grow and flourish?”
SUZANNA REPORTS: It was clear to them that if we had not done the project, that they do not know were they would be as there wasn’t a clear roadmap for their future along with feelings of frustration. They feel that the board and members really came together, they had increased membership as a result of the Summit, the members were more engaged and ready to move forward because what came out of it was more of a plan as a group. More people are coming to meetings, new members are beginning to form committee’s and the group feels like they got there together rather than the board trying to drive everything. Their life giving forces are: Acceptance. Education. Community Partners. Connection. Love of Animals. Passion. Integrity. Diversity. Change Agents. Hope. Opportunity. Compassion. Bigger Vision. Accomplishment. Making a difference. Unified Group. Involvement. Inspiration. Heart. In review, Suzanna has gained experience for the future in terms of the provocative propositions phase and how to heighten the Dream/Visioning phase.
SUZANNA STEPHAN attended the AIFTs at Lower Columbia College with Charles Miller and Kay Weiss as the Trainers/Facilitators and Atlantic City, NJ with facilitator Nancy Stetson.
MARGARET SYVERSON attended the AIFT in Houston, TX. MARGARET’S practicum was with the leadership staff of the Undergraduate Writing Center at the University of Texas which provides one-to-one consultations for any undergraduate, on any writing project, at any stage of the work. The Center typically sees 11,000 students in a school year, with 90 consultants, both graduate and trained undergraduate students, as well as three full time staff. They also publish a nationally recognized online scholarly journal, Praxis, and host a web site with information accessed by tens of thousands of people all over the world.
PREPARATION FOR THE INQUIRY: The core group identified together three significant issues: training, diversity, and professional development as positive topics for inquiry and they choose training as the topic. Margaret told us that they had 18 potentially rich topics that could be used. The decision was ultimately based on three factors: significance to the Writing Center, urgency, and feasibility. They chose a topic that is a central concern to the consultants, administration, and institution in which the Writing Center is situated. It is urgent, because of the very high traffic of clients for the Writing Center, who have expectations about the quality of the consultation and the expertise of the consultants. This is an ongoing challenge in the Writing Center as they have 90 graduate student and undergraduate consultants working highly varied schedules. There is no opportunity to gather them all together for training.
The inquiry was with the leadership staff and they used paired, face to face interviews. Margaret felt these yielded open and frank reflections.
MARGARET REPORTS: The staff really enjoyed the interactive process, and the focus on positives, especially what we would like more of. I feel it really energized them to think about how to mentor our graduate student and undergraduate consultants. I had hoped the staff would find this an interesting approach to our collective work and our vision for the coming year. I particularly wanted to establish the culture as not one of blame, criticism or complaint but one of mutual support, shared inquiry, positive regard, and celebration of successes. Margaret provided some of the dream images.
MARGARET’S ON-GOING EFFORTS: Margaret is in a good position as the Director of the Writing Center to support the ongoing success and commitments that that they made to the development of the training program! They have planned weekly leadership team meetings to ensure that they mutually support each other. Great going Margaret! We hope to get the follow up next year.
MARGARET SYVERSON attended the AIFT at Houston Community College with Nancy Stetson and Lane Glenn as the Trainers/Facilitators.
ANN TATE attended the AIFT in Houston, TX in 2005 and completed her practicum in Friendswood, Texas, a suburb of the Houston metropolitan area with a population of 35,000. It is a very thriving community with many residents working at NASA and the Medical Center. Several new development projects include a downtown revitalization, a new business center and several major housing developments. The Friendswood Chamber of Commerce is committed to promoting economic growth and diversification of the local economy. It consists of approximately 164 members from the business community.
FOR THE INQUIRY: Linda Watkins (the former president of San Jacinto College South) and certified AI Facilitator advised Ann as she worked with her core group and with modifying the interview guide. Ann worked with the Board of Directors to begin a strategic planning process focusing on identifying and acting on current and future issues affecting all the businesses in Galveston County. The Board of Directors were the core group. They identified the positive topic as “To re-energize the Friendswood Chamber through a visioning process which would provide a framework for continued planning to improve the effectiveness and image of the Chamber.” They modified the interview guide and used paired face to face interviews.
ANN REPORTS: I learned from the inquiry that I enjoy facilitating an AI process and that it was exciting when the participants became passionate about the work of the Chamber. I was amazed at how they willingly volunteered for committees and made individual commitments for tasks needing completion. My facilitation skills were enhanced by the energy of the group.
My personal best experience was to see how much people enjoyed the process of planning from this positive approach. The AI process engaged people as well as was effective in establishing a new vision and direction for the Friendswood Chamber
Individual commitments, offers and requests that were created to realize their Provocative Propositions are:
- Develop targeted opportunities for Chamber members to come together socially and to network professionally in order to build a sense of mutual respect, engagement with Chamber work, and passion for the quality of life that Friendswood offers.
- Develop a marketing plan, with the primary purpose of recruiting new members and enhancing the image of the Chamber.
- Align Chamber Committees to reflect and carry out the vision and goals of the strategic plan
- Solidify individual commitments to the work of the Chamber and specifically to the committee work that supports the vision and goals of the Chamber.
ANN’S REPORTS ON THEIR ON-GOING EFFORTS: In order to capture the community spirit and heritage of the community, The Chamber of Commerce has established a FIG festival (note: When Friendswood was founded in the 1930’s the major industry in the community was based on harvesting figs, therefore, this festival serves as a heritage celebration for the community.) The Chamber has partnered with the Historical Society and the Lion’s Club to provide meaningful community activities and celebrations.The Chamber has re-structured their committees to more effectively effect the vision and goals established through the AI process. The Chamber has more focused meetings, yet fewer meetings, than in past years.
“I am committed to staying in touch with Chamber members and the President in order to stay abreast of changes that are made as a result of our AI planning process. I will continue to encourage that they conduct an annual retreat for planning and that they celebrate their success through recognition, Chamber events, and appropriate marketing to enhance growth. “
ANN TATE attended the AIFT at San Jacinto College South with Kina Mallard and Rich Henry as the Trainers/Facilitators.
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