Posted tagged ‘appreciative inquiry’

Video that speaks to positive life-transformation

September 27, 2011

Last year I blogged about this amazing nonprofit in “Deep full-life transformation“.

This video is a compilation of client interviews we made over about 6 months. Very inspiring!

Positive Change Agents – principles for enjoyable success

August 10, 2011

We’ve used these principles to guide our positive change projects for years.  

These principles are keys to motivating busy people.

  1. Take the time to make goals clear and simple.
  2. The easier it is to contribute the more people do it.
  3. Make starting steps doable and clear.
  4. Make sure people feel confident enough in their role.
  5. Frame goals, directions and other communication positively.
  6. Steady guidance at a strategic level keeps people on track and confident in success.
  7. Make questions specific, positive and generative.
  8. Keep focused on your top priority goal. Ensure that you’ve applied all the resources you need to to this goal.

Join the Positive Change Revolution!

July 28, 2011

Many wonderful approaches create positive change. Here are a few, described by key practitioners.

David Cooperrider

Appreciative Inquiry

As described by the Appreciative Inquiry Commons: Appreciative Inquiry is about the coevolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them. In its broadest focus, it involves systematic discovery of what gives “life” to a living system when it is most alive, most effective, and most constructively capable in economic, ecological, and human terms. AI involves, in a central way, the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential. It centrally involves the mobilization of inquiry through the crafting of the “unconditional positive question” often-involving hundreds or sometimes thousands of people. In AI the arduous task of intervention gives way to the speed of imagination and innovation; instead of negation, criticism, and spiraling diagnosis, there is discovery, dream, and design.

AI seeks, fundamentally, to build a constructive union between a whole people and the massive entirety of what people talk about as past and present capacities: achievements, assets, unexplored potentials, innovations, strengths, elevated thoughts, opportunities, benchmarks, high point moments, lived values, traditions, strategic competencies, stories, expressions of wisdom, insights into the deeper corporate spirit or soul– and visions of valued and possible futures. Taking all of these together as a gestalt, AI deliberately, in everything it does, seeks to work from accounts of this “positive change core”—and it assumes that every living system has many untapped and rich and inspiring accounts of the positive. Link the energy of this core directly to any change agenda and changes never thought possible are suddenly and democratically mobilized.

Mark McKergow

Paul Z Jackson

Solution focus

As described by Dr. Mark McKergow and Paul Z. Jackson: Solutions Focus (SF) is an approach to change that is causing companies worldwide to sit up and take notice. Its primary focus is on uncovering and building on what is already working well – even in areas that are failing. Whether you’re a manager, a team leader, a coach or a consultant, you can use SF to generate immediate results. The SF approach is sometimes compared to Appreciative Inquiry. Both methods focus on what’s working; many people prefer SF for its incisive simplicity and applicability in all kinds of situations, big and small.

The solution-focused philosophy is an approach to change, centered on keeping things as simple as possible, doing what works and nothing else. We discovered it in the world of therapy, when in the late 1980s Steve de Shazer extended the earlier work of Milton Erickson and the Mental Research Institute to produce a tested yet minimal approach to change (for example de Shazer, 1988, and George, Iveson & Ratner, 1999). These same sources had earlier sparked NLP, to which solution focus might be seen as a younger, leaner second cousin.

Solution focus has since spread in the UK to the fields of education, social work, and child protection and is now making inroads to the organizational world.


Marcus Buckingham

Strength-based Leadership

As described by Tom Rath and Ashok Gopal: Nearly a decade ago, Gallup unveiled the results of a landmark 30-year research project that ignited a global conversation on the topic of strengths. More than 3 million people have since taken Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment, which forms the core of several books on this topic, including the #1 international bestseller StrengthsFinder 2.0.

In recent years, while continuing to learn more about strengths, Gallup scientists have also been examining decades of data on the topic of leadership. They studied more than one million work teams, conducted more than 20,000 in-depth interviews with leaders, and even interviewed more than 10,000 followers around the world to ask exactly why they followed the most important leader in their life.

In Strengths Based Leadership, #1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Rath and renowned leadership consultant Barry Conchie reveal the results of this research. Based on their discoveries, the book identifies three keys to being a more effective leader: knowing your strengths and investing in others’ strengths, getting people with the right strengths on your team, and understanding and meeting the four basic needs of those who look to you for leadership.


Join us in the positive change revolt!

Are you a positive change agent? – Survey

April 21, 2011

I’m not talking about secret agents … positive change agents are actually in the middle of the action, right in the public eye. They take risks all right, but the kind that help people and organizations grow.

See how many of these statements describe you to find out if you’re a positive change agent, a positive change agent in the making, or needing a weeklong retreat with a gaggle of positive change gurus. Then click the number that fits below the list.

  1. I look for a way to adapt when the change isn’t going my way.
  2. I know the journey is just as important as the destination.
  3. It is intuitively obvious that when people enjoy a change process it’s far more effective, fast and easy.
  4. I prefer to build on strengths and find the best in people, and not the old “break ’em down and build ’em the way you want them” method.
  5. It is obvious that the quality of a relationship is as important as the quality of an idea/product.
  6. I know why Appreciative Inquiry, Positive Psychology, Strength-based development, Positive Deviance, or Solution focus work so well.
  7. I’ve seen that win-win solutions make the most sustainable change.
  8. I’ve found that buy-in comes from authentic questions, real listening, and a chance to make a difference.
  9. I like solutions and talking about what to do far more than creating a list of problems and playing the blame game.
  10. I prefer a few core principles rather than a thick rulebook.

I’d love to hear more about how you create positive change.

Optimal balance of positive & negative

April 17, 2011

No surprise to many of us… research has now shown that you need to be a lot more positive than negative on teams.

10:1 – Ideal Positive:Negative Balance  

Using a “Capture Lab” researchers saw a strong average correlation between positive language and performance.

  • Low performing teams communicated 1 positive for every 3 negatives – 1:3
  • Medium teams averaged 2:1
  • High performing teams ranged from 6:1 to 11:1
  • Too much positive, 12:1 or more, “calcifies a team”, making necessary change and adaptation difficult.

Sustainable marriages apparently need at least 5 times as many positive emotions regarding one’s partner as negative–5:1

This ratio is yet another reason to use positive change approaches such as Appreciative InquiryPositive Psychology, building on your strengthsSolutions Focus, and Positive Deviance.

BTW, I make no money off these links, but I do make money using these methods in our positive change consulting. We find these approaches not only more effective for our clients, but far more enjoyable for them… and for us!

The Power of Gratitude – the benefits of giving thanks

November 24, 2010

Giving thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is an opportunity to pause and take stock of what I am grateful for. In addition to turkey I can fill myself with the warm realization of what is good in my life.

Gratitude has a profound impact at work as well.

The obvious benefits of gratitude are:

  • When we thank others, it reinforces the behaviors we most want
  • It helps others to feel good about the way they impact us
  • We strengthen our relationships with those we’re grateful to

The less obvious, but equally powerful benefits are:

  • We positively change our own brain chemistry! Gratitude, and the mental images of things we like, trigger the release of endorphins and other biochemicals. These help us relax, recharge and refocus. We are then able to think more creatively, flexibly and positively.
  • These same changes influence our tone of voice, facial expression and even the words we use. Making us far more likely to positively influence others
  • There’s increasing evidence of a correlation between positive attitudes and health and longevity. That’s delightful.
  • Positive, grateful people tend to be more popular. I don’t know about you, but I find that helps me in so many ways.

I’ve found that I can hone this skill to the point of proactively looking for what I like about people and what they do and then causally mentioning these things in conversations, during trainings, etc. Sincere references like this help build rapport, enable others to feel safe opening up with me, and often engender return positivity.

Here are three ways you can use this power this week:

  • Gratitude List: Create a list of the people you are grateful to and why.
  • Gratitude Letter: Write a letter to someone who has positively influenced your life. Sending it makes it even better, although just the writing is enough to shift your own perspective.
  • Mention sincere praise to five people a day for the next two weeks. This helps it become a skill you can use any time, and hopefully a popularity-growing habit will form!

You depend on good relationships for almost everything you do in life. You might as well hone the powerful of gratitude to be happier, more successful and heck, it might even help you live longer!

For more information on building resilience through influencing yourself go to my post on this topic.


There’s also a great article in the Wall Street Journal on this topic.

Influencing a community to help the homeless

October 25, 2010

Have you ever wondered how to ignite passion for your goals with large groups? How to involve people to gain helpful input and buy-in? How to inspire people to follow-through with meaningful contributions?

Would you like to observe, or better yet participate, in a unique, free community summit?

Join me in a high-energy, fun, and emotionally meaningful event at the Harbor Homes Nashua Care Center, November 8, 2010 (click here for event information)

This special collaborative summit is an important part of the strategic planning process for the Care Center, a phenomenal nonprofit that you can think of as the “Harvard of the Homeless.” This center offers a “hand-up” to women who are committed to transforming their lives in order to achieve a stable home for themselves and their children.  Graduates come from hard-knock situations and go through powerful programs to gain the skills, emotional stability and education to become strong, healthy, contributing citizens.

If you’re like me and you find REAL change an inspiring and fulfilling experience in your life, please come with an open mind and heart. You’ll hear a few stories from graduates of this challenging program, and from others who have been fulfilled by contributing to its success.

Then-and this truly is the fun part-you’ll join in a brainstorming session to uncover fresh ideas to help the Care Center be even more transformative going forward. You’ll see the power of Appreciative Inquiry and other positive-change tools in action. And you know me, it will be highly engaging, with lots of laughs, interaction, and insight.

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