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Appreciative Inquiry Introduction


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Sara L. Orem co-author of Appreciative Coaching was guest on the Business901 Podcast. This is a transcription of the podcast.

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Appreciative Inquiry Introduction

  1. 1. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsAppreciative Inquiry Introduction Guest was Sara Orem Related Podcast: Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  2. 2. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsSara L. Orem, Ph.D. has twenty years of management experienceand fifteen years management consulting in and to majorfinancial services companies in the U. S., Britain and Australia. Her current focus is on the development and use of positive methods including Appreciative Inquiry in coaching and group processes. Appreciative Coaching describes in detail the method Sara has developed for her coaching practice which serves women and men looking at self-started transitions. Sara teaches in the area of leadershipdevelopment and have led leadership development efforts amongglobal leadership teams and as part of succession planningefforts. She often coach leaders in transition as part of theseconsulting contracts.Sara has consulted to small non-profits, large corporations andgovernment agencies around the themes of leadershipdevelopment, leader transition and change, organizationalchange, and using positive processes to accomplish any of theaforementioned.Appreciative Inquiry (sometimes shortened to “AI”) is primarilyan organizational development method which seeks to engage alllevels of an organization by taking an “asset-based approach.” Itstarts with the belief that every organization, and every person inthat organization, has positive aspects that can be built upon. Itasks questions like “What’s working well?”, “What’s good aboutwhat you are currently doing?” David Cooperrider is generallycredited with coining the term ‘Appreciative Inquiry’. Sara’s Website: Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  3. 3. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsSarah Orem: I borrow, teach, and work with other faculty to tryto help them be more effective in the course room, sometimeshave a better presence in the course room. All of Capella is onlineso that when I talk about having a presence in a course room itsnot me standing in front of 30 learners, its me communicatingvia the Internet in emails and discussion responses to them andpresence is really important because thats how we meet.I do some consulting for a local company that works primarilywith city and state agencies and large non-profits. I do that workusually with people who are currently not in a happy place. Iveworked with transportation agencies and the juvenile probationdepartment in San Francisco.The trick is to turn the mindset around of the management inthose places. That really helps them speak to people in a differentway, speak to the people who work for them in a different way.Im trying to develop a topic around appreciative teaching andIve done some blogging about that on my website. I dont knowif that turns into my next book project but thats what Imcurrently interested in.Joe Dager: Welcome everyone. This is Joe Dager, the host ofthe Business901 podcast, and with me today is Sarah Orem. Sheis one of the co-authors of "Appreciative Coaching" and wevebeen just chatting here a little bit about appreciative work and Ifind it quite interesting on the different uses. Can you just give usa brief summary of what appreciative is, Sarah?Sarah: Appreciative coaching comes from the work of DavidCooperrider who is the co-creator of Appreciative Inquiry. Usuallyhe and his adviser at Case Western Reserve University are givencredit for that co-creation in so far as David did his initial workunder Srivasta who was his mentor and adviser. There wereseveral more people in his class who worked on that project andthey have also continued to work in the area of Appreciative Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  4. 4. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsInquiry. There are maybe five or six people who were in on theground floor and then there were a small group of consultantsthat helped Dave shape his original ideas for organizational workand now its out in the world.Joe: When you think about the subject, it seems odd that itsjust surfacing now and becoming popular. Is it new? Is it reallythat new to take an appreciative look at the world versus what Italk about from the problem solving side?Sarah: Its really not new. In fact, I was looking at a discussionthread in my schools discussion, which is mostly populated bystudents, an initial posting about we should have a certificationfor learning this new positive psychology and one of the people inthe psychology department responded and said this is not new.What I think is different here, Joe, is the organizations still workfrom a problem solving angle or perspective when somethinggoes wrong in an organization. Where Appreciative Inquiry starts,we may end up in the same place, but where it starts is nothunting for whats wrong but hunting for whats right.Its not that thats never been done before but I think there arethree or four branches or methods that come out of or thatjumped off of Appreciative Inquiry in the last 25 years to reallylook at the world from a place of love, for lack of a better word. Iknow thats a big no-no in organizations, but to look at the worldwith gratitude, to look at organizations with gratitude, to look atissues with real curiosity I think is the word that I often fall backon.I think if youre genuinely curious about the world that is a veryopen way of being and discovery whereas if youre in a problemsolving way of thinking youre looking for the thing that is wrong.Curiosity may uncover something that doesnt work very well butit may just as often discovery something thats really, reallyexceptional. Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  5. 5. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: I think its a great word. Curious is a great word to look atit.Sarah: It invites a different way of thinking, I think. Thats all.Joe: I had someone when I was talking about AppreciatingInquiry say, "Well, to me it sounds like sitting there playing asoccer game and not keeping score." Do you look at it that way?Is theres teeth to it?Sarah: I think that there are wonderful skeptics and I am asgrateful for the skeptics as I am for the people who clap theirhands and want to come along immediately. Ive got lots of thoseskeptics in my course room because I teach in the Masters inBusiness Administration and the Doctoral program in business. Iget guys who are Six Sigma people. I get mostly men but notexclusively, women too, who are in some sort of quality processand theyre very used to doing things in a particular way andbelieve that thats the best way.I have no doubt that it is the best way often. What I ask them todo is to have a particular scripted conversation with somebody intheir organization with which they have some kind of tension.Often its an employee that theyre really frustrated by and I askthem to have this conversation and very, very often the skepticscome back and they say, "I didnt know. I never knew this aboutthe person that I talked to and amazingly weve solved thisproblem Ive had with them in 15 minutes where Ive been tryingto solve it for four years."I think it comes to a place of genuine curiosity people open up toit in a way that they dont open up to problem solving.Joe: When you have that conversation with them whats theessence of it? How did you start? Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  6. 6. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsSarah: Well, there are four core questions and I tell them whenthey start this conversation to use whichever of the questionsseems most appropriate in the conversation. Youve read the fourcore questions in the reading that youve done. The first one isusually what gives life to you now? Well, for lots of people inorganizations that doesnt mean anything. What do you meanwhat gives life? I cant relate to that question. Often I say,"Where do you get your energy?" When you come to work andyoure going to go through an eight hour day what do you lookforward to? What are the things that you really like to do? Thesecond question is describe the peak experience.I often start with that question or that statement in a coachingsituation because all of us have had a peak experience, all of ushad something that really made us happy, made us proud, thatwe really thought we had some great achievement.Then describe your values or the values of the organization ifyoure doing it within an organization. Finally, what one or twothings do you want to be different? For most managers andemployees they know what they want the other person to bedifferent.Theres something different between telling and asking. If theystart with that question, if they say, "What one or two thingswould you do differently or what would you like to do differentlyabout X?" and X is usually the thing thats frustrated them forfour years.The person opens up in a way thats quite different than beingtold for the 43rd time that they should do X in a certain way. Itinvites a completely different kind of conversation. I can thensay, "This is not my best deal." I just had a performanceevaluation at my university and my boss said, "Well, you could bea lot better at administration." I said, "Not getting any argumentfrom me. I could be a lot better at administration." Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  7. 7. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsHe said, "Well, thats different. I expected you to be defensiveabout that." Well, because of the work that I do and the way Isee the world theres no point in being defensive. I know that Imnot good at administration. I know that there are ways that Icould be better. Its never going to be my strength. I think thatsalso part of Appreciative Inquiry is owning up to the things thatyou have to handle or have to get handled.If you have to get them handled then maybe somebody else cando it. For whom administration is their gift, its not mine.Joe: Its like saying you just need to be positive abouteverything. Thats hard to do. Is that really realistic?Sarah: Its not realistic. Barbara Fredrickson who has anotherbook that you all might like. Its one of my very favorites. Itscalled "Positivity" and Barbara is a well known academic, a veryhighly respected academic. She says that were hardwired fornegativity and we were hardwired for that for a purpose and thatwas that there were lots of things in the world that weredangerous. Lions and tigers and bears. We lived in caves andthere were wild animals and there were maybe not an everpresent danger but there was an often present danger so wewere wired to look for danger. The worrier in us will look fordanger in the fact that we didnt get a raise or well look fordanger in the fact that our significant other didnt say goodmorning to us. We are negative beings and to some degree thatsalso genetic. There are some of us who are more negative thanothers.What positivity is about is intentionally raising the level of ourpositive interactions that we have in our life during our day,during our week, during our month. Barbara has done manyclinical studies that show were more creative, were more opento ideas, and we do our best work when were in this frame ofpositivity. Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  8. 8. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: Can we do this on an organizational level? Can anorganization embrace these concepts?Sarah: Lots of organizations have and the one that may surpriseyou the most is the military. My adviser or one of my committeemembers and a peer person in my life is Frank Barrett, who wasone of the graduate students along with Cooperrider who workedon this project. Frank worked with the naval leadership school inMonterrey and the armed forces have embraced AppreciativeInquiry and have been very, very active in using it to approachnew projects and to take a solution focus to things that they wantto be different.One of those things has been the reduction in funding, thedownsizing of our military presence in our own country and othercountries, the loss or closing of bases. Those are all things thathave been approached through Appreciative Inquiry.Joe: What are some of the pushbacks that you get when this isfirst addressed? Is there or do you just approach it positively thatits really not a pushback?Sarah: I would say that I get lots of pushback. When I first wasDr. Orem and I was doing some consulting for a person who hadbeen my boss and I said that I wanted to introduce a new salesprogram that we were going to do in a bank and we introducedthe same sales person in a bank where this person had been myboss. He moved to another bank. I described how I wanted toinitiate it with Appreciative Inquiry and he looked at me with hisface scrunched up and I didnt know what the scrunch meant butI knew something was coming that he didnt like. He said to me,"Could we use different words?" The words for the four or fivestages depending on how you characterize the very beginning aredefine, which is to define your topic, then discover, next isdream, then design, and finally, destiny. Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  9. 9. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsWell, "dream" and "destiny" are woo woo, you know, words thatwe dont use in organizations very much. Fortunately, Id had alearner in one of my classes who was a consultant in Canada, andshe dreamed up the four Is or four stages rather than discover,dream, design, and destiny, and I wont be able to recite those toyou right now, but they were essentially had the same meanings.They were much harder-edged organizational words.One of the areas of pushback is the language of AppreciativeInquiry. One of the things that Cooperrider says is that words areso important; the words we use have different... People havedifferent reactions to two words that essentially mean the samething. So I think I have to be careful when I change those fourstages to different words, and believe that Im honoring hisoriginal intentions.Words are one thing. The second thing is, there are lots and lotsand lots and lots of people in organizations who believe that youshould find the culprit, beat the culprit to a pulp, go aboutsomething new.I dont mean to be too cute about that, but what Im saying isthat the process is to really go looking for whats wrong, then doa root cause analysis, which is how did it go wrong, and whatsreally wrong, even though the presenting symptom may not bethe whole thing, then design some sort of solution, or brainstormabout possible solutions, and then design an action plan.When I tell people that theres another way to do that and thatwe may end up in a better place, some people just dont believeit. They dont want to consider it; they dont believe it, becausethey believe that problem-solving works for them. I dont doubtit. I mean, I would never say it didn’t.I just did a brief introduction to Appreciative Inquiry from my ownwebsite, and I said problem solving works if theres somethingvery specific thats wrong, but if its a negative culture, for Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  10. 10. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsinstance, in an organization, where do you start? I mean, what doyou fix? Appreciative Inquiry really, really is, I think, a better wayto approach systemic issues.Joe: I think its the interesting approach, because even theepitome of Lean culture, is Toyota, and Ive heard that theyrestarting to do work in Appreciative Inquiry as far as their policydeployment.Sarah: Well, I think Toyota has been such a well-respectedcompany until the last two years. And in the last two years,theyve stumbled in important areas. So another piece of thatAppreciative Inquiry is if youre running a company and running itthe way youve been running it works for you, why should youchange? But if youre running a company and theres a big"whoops", most of us then are willing to look at everything thatmight make the company... or, get the company back on track.And I think Appreciative Inquiry is one of those things that can dothat when, as I say, when the issues are systemic. And I think inToyotas case that may be a good description.Joe: One thing you mentioned there that I thought wasinteresting is using appreciative work in sales.Sarah: Yes.Joe: Can you summarize that for me or talk a little bit about thatfor me?Sarah: Sure. I have been a sales person, and I was a retailstockbroker for seven years, and I believe, and there are a coupleof people that I know right now who are using either asset-basedthinking, which is an aligned method to Appreciative Inquiry, orwho are using Appreciative Inquiry or positive psychology in salestraining and in sales coaching. I think the reason that it can workwhere other methods might not is that if you want to have an Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  11. 11. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsunderperformer, usually that underperformer, because of the waysales is, you know, there are charts on all the walls, everybodyknows who the underperformers are, and everybody knows whothe high-performers are, because thats part of the competition ofsales that most organizations set up.If youve got an underperformer he or she knows that shesunderperforming and to begin a sales coaching relationship withwhat do you do really well usually throws people off guardbecause they think theyre there to be whipped into shape.My feeling is if you build on what that person already does welltheyre much more likely to be high performers than if you sayyou have to make 35 cold calls a day and you have to go out andsee seven people live every day and you have to use this “can”sales pitch.Really good sales people are not all the same. I worked in anoffice where one of the most introverted people I ever knew wasa really successful stockbroker because he figured out how tomake his strengths, which were analysis and strategy, work.He figured out how to get the kind of support he needed in anextrovert, which was usually his assistant, to bring in customers.If you figure out what you do really well and build on that youremuch more likely to be a good sales person.Joe: I think that is interesting, the way you put that, because Ithink two things that you hit upon there that I think areimportant in todays world is the one concept that I think weshould always look at our customers being our teacher and learnfrom them. We shouldnt expect all these wonderful things withfeatures and benefits to be the customers aha moment. Itswhen we understand how to apply our product with the customershould be the aha moment. I think that lends itself toAppreciative Inquiry because youre seeking his input, what hes Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  12. 12. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsdoing well, and how you can interact from that perspective. Ithink the other side of it is I look at Zappos as a good example.In the short time they came through the process and gotpurchased by Amazon for a billion dollars it was more about notscripts, not how to handle people in the call centers, it was moreabout taking interest on who was on the other side of the phone.Sarah: But then tailoring your advertising to their preferences.If I bought four pair of four inch stiletto heels Zappos is going totell me when they have a sale on stilettos. The sales algorithmsare so interesting. My son-in-law is working in that area at 3M.Its a little scary what organizations know about us. Its morethan a little scary.Joe: I know that. Ive seen some of the back end of thosesystems. You know how many cats they own, how many dogsthey own. It is scary.In the sales perspective, it is a different approach to take anappreciative look. Youre not the person with all the answersanymore. Your organization doesnt have all the answers. Itsmore of that community, that co-creation process. I go back tovalue in use and enabling use of your product. You have to workwith your customer and in order to enable use you have to playto his strengths a little bit.Sarah: You have to play to his strengths and you have to useyour own strengths in the strategy of how to engage him. Thereason I say that is I am in full agreement with you that its allabout the customer. The example I use, if Im an extremeintrovert and the idea of making a cold call makes me sweat or itmakes me want to hide under the covers or whatever then Imnot going to do that kind of solicitation. Im not going to build mybusiness that way. I need somebody who loves to engage peoplein that way. On the other hand, I may be a really deep thinkerand so when I have engaged the customer Im willing to ask the Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  13. 13. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsright questions to really determine what that person needs orwants. All Im saying is its a combination of the sales personleveraging his or her best strengths with the necessary skill oflistening for what the customer wants and being able to applywhat you know to that need.Joe: You have a couple things on your website. .Sarah: Right.Joe: Could you tell me a little bit about your DVDs and theCoaches Guide that you have available?Sarah: Sure. I did the DVDs because when I would doteleclasses, which I havent done in quite a while, I always woulddo a demonstration for the last class, and the people who cameto my tele-classes were mostly coaches and many of them wouldsay, "I really need to see what this looks like." One of the twoDVDs is me with two very different kind of coaching clients goingthrough a whole appreciative process so that people can look atthat DVD and say, "Ah, now I see how its done." Its a case ofreading about something. You can read about how to do it in thebook that I wrote with Jackie Binkert and Ann Clancy and bothJackie and Ann are masterful coaches. I think some of us, evenreally good coaches, if youre using a new method, you need tosee what that looks like. So thats one of the two DVDs.The other one is a more in-depth introduction to AppreciativeInquiry. Im putting up today, I think - well, certainly within thenext week - Im putting up another presentation of a briefintroduction to Appreciative Inquiry and that will probably replacemy teleclasses. So the DVD is a much more in-depth introductionto Appreciative Inquiry. So those are the two DVDs. You can buythem separately or together. Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  14. 14. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsThe Coaches Handbook is available on Amazon - I think I lookedyesterday - for $96 and Im offering it for $15, so thats quite areduction in price. I wrote that with another coach from theKramer Institute. And Kathy Kramer writes about and createdsomething called asset-based thinking. And asset-based thinkingis the opposite of deficit-based thinking.So it is a way, again, a way of looking at the world thats veryaligned with Appreciative Inquiry, and that book is specifically forcoaches. Its a workbook. So theres a brief introduction toasset-based thinking and a brief introduction to AppreciativeInquiry, and then lots of questions and short scenarios forcoaches about how to use either or both of those processes intheir coaching relationship.Joe: Is there something I didnt ask that you would like to addto this conversation?Sarah: In working with this topic that you and I have talkedabout this morning, so recently, in redeveloping this presentationfor my website, Joe, I believe so strongly that this can help us tomake - and make is a word that comes from a communicationsprocess, not from Appreciative Inquiry - but it helps us makedifferent kinds of relationships. I think that that is significant in allof our lives. I think all of us want to have effective relationships. Imean relationships with our boss, I mean relationships with theprocesses that we do at work, I mean relationships with ourchildren. And this is really a way of being in the world.Cooperrider describes this as a philosophy, not a method. It reallydoes guide us in a way of being. Thats pretty grandiose of me tosay, and I also believe it.Joe: I would like to thank you very much for participation in thispodcast. Whats the best way to get a hold of you? Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  15. 15. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsSarah: Through my website, which is Ibelieve that there is a phone number on the website that is 510459-0239, and there are other ways to connect which, again, areon my website.Joe: All right. Well, thanks again. This podcast will be availableon the Business901 blog site, and also the Business901 iTunesStore. So thanks again, Sara.Sarah: Thank you so much. Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901
  16. 16. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Joseph T. Dager Lean Marketing Ph: 260-438-0411 Fax: 260-818-2022 Email: Web/Blog: Twitter: @business901 What others say: In the past 20 years, Joe and I have collaborated on many difficult issues. Joes ability to combine his expertise with "out of the box" thinking is unsurpassed. He has always delivered quickly, cost effectively and withingenuity. A brilliant mind that is always a pleasure to work with." James R.Joe Dager is President of Business901, a progressive company providingdirection in areas such as Lean Marketing, Product Marketing, ProductLaunches and Re-Launches. As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt,Business901 provides and implements marketing, project and performanceplanning methodologies in small businesses. The simplicity of a singleflexible model will create clarity for your staff and as a result betterexecution. My goal is to allow you spend your time on the need versus theplan.An example of how we may work: Business901 could start with aconsulting style utilizing an individual from your organization or a virtualassistance that is well versed in our principles. We have capabilities toplug virtually any marketing function into your process immediately. Asproficiencies develop, Business901 moves into a coach’s role supporting theprocess as needed. The goal of implementing a system is that the processeswill become a habit and not an event. Business901 Podcast Opportunity Expert Status Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative Copyright Business901