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Come up for AIR and Experience your Energy Soar – PS 71

Episode Introduction

My brilliant guest hails from Toronto, Canada. Maureen McKenna, affectionately known as Mo, is a woman of huge talent, energy, dynamism. She is highly acclaimed in her field of organization, community development and coaching, and is a leader in Appreciative inquiry not only in Canada, but globallycome up for air - Mo McKenna.

In this show, Mo shares stories about how she started in this field, where it’s taken her and where she’s headed, living to her strengths of curiosity and openness daily.  Mo has worked in just about all sectors: corporate, government agencies in education and healthcare.  Mo shares many of her inspirations in the links section below.  

Episode Background

I was keen to interview Mo Mckenna, as in my last few shows, her name kept entering into the conversation.  She was praised by Deacon Richard Manley-Tannis,as his mentor, episode PS 65 How an Intimate Conversation can Strengthen the Collective.  The show preceeding this one,  PS 70, Say Yes to Everything Results in Fun and Meaning with Wick van der Vaart from the Netherlands refers to Mo as great asset to AI Practitioner and an inspiration.  

Fortuitously, Mo and I finally met in person a couple of months ago in Cleveland, OH at Case Western Reserve University. We were co-facilitators at the Fourth Global Forum  – also a podcast episode – Ps68, Business leaders, Professors and Students Expose Flourishing Enterprises  

And it doesn’t stop there.  These synchronicities keep amplifying. We are both members of the Council of Practice with the David L.Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry at Champlain college in Burlington VT. in the capacity of Field Practitioners.

Come up for Air

come up for air - framework

Mo is highly creative and innovative.  One of her creations is the AIR framework.  As she tells a story of its successful application in a hospital setting, I see it as framework for a conversation that guides people to a mutual appreciation of their past and helps them envision and plan an ideal future. The relational aspect of this framework facilitates understanding and generates new energy that is akin to when you come up for air and feel a huge relief, especially if you’ve felt silenced, misunderstood or not acknowledged for too long.

Concepts we Explore in this Episode

Appreciative Inquiry High Point Experience

In following the structure of an Appreciative Inquiry interview, I invite Mo to tell a high point story when she was fully engaged and delighted with her work.  She tells the story of working with The Toronto District School Board (TDSB).  It’s a terrific example of applying AI in a large system that invited all stakeholders to inquiry into “Student Success” while providing the Board members the opportunity to work on a real issue of strategic importance and learn about the process of AI at the same time.

High Performing Teams

Mo's own story harking back to her days at Xerox, and her reference to a study by Google finds that psychological safety is an enabler of high performing teams.  With Appreciative Inquiry, we invest time up front on inquiry – we don’t go straight to task.  We go back and learn from the past and get to know each other more deeply, becoming aware of each other’s needs.  That relational process creates psychological safety.

Learning Partners

We talk about the difference between being an “expert” and a “learning partner.”  As an outsider to a client system, we come in to be a learning partner, not an expert consultant. The client system has the expertise which is local knowledge of their own context and content.  We, as outsiders come with a process and a structure to guide the client to outcomes they want to accomplish.

Leadership Rises Up  from the Quiet Corners of an Organization

Mo and I share examples of how Appreciative Inquiry brings out the leadership is us all.  The psychological safety that an appreciative inquiry provides opens people up to each other's stories to listen more deeply, trust more openly and take risks.  People are encouraged to be more courageous, and Mo quotes her mentor, Jane Magruder Watkins:

You do no harm asking for what's working.

Links to Other Resources Mentioned in this Show

The newly designed, Appreciative Inquiry Commons

New York Times Article, What Google Learned from its Quest to Build the Perfect Team

Bliss Brown Seminal Appreciative Inquiry Summit, Imagine Chicago 

Professor Amy Edmondson TEDx Talk, Building a psychologically safe workplace

Gervase Bushe Article,  Appreciative Inquiry with Teams

Angela Ahrendts TEDx Talk, The Power of Human Energy

“Passionate, positive human energy can provide a counterbalance to the disruptive negative forces of an age of unprecedented change. Through it comes confidence, inspiration and the power to transform things for the better.”  

Connect with Mo McKenna

Mo’s website http://www.returnonenergy.ca

Blog https://wordpress.com/post/momentsbymoment.com/1845

Twitter: https://twitter.com/momckenna

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/maureenmckenna%20

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maureen.mckenna.106

Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

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How an Intimate Conversation can Strengthen the Collective – PS65

Episode Introduction

In this podcast episode, you will be opened – both heart and mind.  I think you will also feel the concepts expressed by Deacon Richard Manley-Tannis, through his loving choice of words, in your body.  What unfolds is that it's the intimate conversation you have with another that potentially changes you and the other, thereby strengthening humanity's collective capacity to bring about personal and social change and even transformation.

Social Media – a Space for Intimate Conversation

Intimate Conversation - Richard Manley-Tannis with black dogRichard and I first connected over Twitter several years ago discovering our shared interest in Appreciative Inquiry.  As a fun opening, we exchange our own stories of how we found each other.  Richard has been playing professionally online and active on Social Media since very early days.  Since 2013, he has held the position of Minister for Evangelism, Mission & Church Development, for the Winnipeg Presbytery, and, one of the many hats he dons in that capacity is to train lay teams about social media and evangelism with an Appreciative Inquiry lens.  Specifically, how the digital process can richly inform the relational process by connecting people, and strengthening collective energy for meaning making at many levels – such as in the realms of finance, education, politics, ideology, social change and more.  He shares stories of how care and compassion have been deeply felt by people who have only ever met online.

Stories are Foundational to Intimate Conversation

Intimate Conversation - A Deacon's Musing Blog LogoRichard's blog, A Deacon's Musing, is dense with valuable content – stories and findings from his research, fiction, poetry and images.  He's been doing this for over 10 years.  Richard undertakes in depth exploration of a vast range of topics that reflect his post modernist Christian lens.

During the show, I invite Richard to expand on a number of his posts.  The language invites exploration and curiosity.  He seeks to build generativity so that his readers grow after musing, reflecting and taking a step further: take action. He writes:

I celebrate that all human truths fail to fully appreciate a universe & reality that cannot confine the Holy. In A Deacon’s Musing, I meander & ruminates, reflect & challenge. Hopefully some of it makes sense & I invite you to ask questions, push me to clarify & listen with intention.

Paradoxically, Intimate Conversation is more Prevalent in the Secular Context than Christian Institutions.

At the time of our interview, Richard had just submitted the first draft of his PhD dissertation which he is doing with the Taos Institute and Tillburg University.  When I askedintimate conversation - older and younger man talking. about high points from his research findings, he shared that in the secular world he experiences far greater openness and willingness to share personal stories and intimacies.  His experience of practices such as Narrative Therapy and Appreciative Inquiry open people up to sacred conversations more than the traditional modernist practices of Christianity.

You will be opened up to the irony and paradox of Richard's findings:  deep, rich and generative conversations are not happening, as they might, in the Christian institutions whose mission is to spread the very values that are not always experienced in the day to day conversations among clergy and their parishioners.  What Richard seeks to do in his role through his social constructionist orientation and his post-modernist Christian lens is to bring such potentialities and energies to those who want to change the world.

A Joy

My interview with Deacon Richard Manley-Tannis was a joy to produce, and I wish you much joy in listening.

How to Connect to Richard

Richard's Blog:  A Deacon's Musing

Richard on Twitter

Richard on LinkedIn

Richard on Google+

Richard on Facebook

Samples of Richard Writings

Appreciative Leadership and Church Leadership

Intentional Community: Moving from Monologue to Dialogue

A Deacon’s Musing|Solidarity – by Richard Manley-Tannis

Our Addiction to Violence Conflict and the Johannine Community

Spirited Reflection: White privilege & lament

Greek Arbitration: Homer to Classical Athens

Faith Based Mediation: A Discussion

Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

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If this episode was helpful or enjoyable to you,

  • I invite you to share it using the social media buttons on the bottom of this page.
  • I'd love it if you can leave a quick review, on iTunes and Stitcher.

A World Inquiry: The Impacts of Appreciative Inquiry across the World, with Ada Jo Mann – PS059

Episode Introduction

I'm excited to talk to Ada Jo Mann about her long relationship with Appreciative Inquiry (AI). She is a pioneer of AI going back to the early 1990s.  Ada Jo was one of the co-creators of the Global Excellence in Management (GEM) Initiative, a founder of the early AI Consulting Group, a co-creator of AI World conferences and AI summits around the world.  Ada Jo and I don’t only talk about the past. I jump straight into a current global initiative conceived by Ada Jo.  She begins by sharing with us her impetus to conduct a World lnquiry on Appreciative Inquiry.

Episode Overview – World Inquiry into Appreciative Inquiry

In this episode, I invite Ada Jo to respond to three questions that we’ve designed to bring many voices from around the world together to share stories of how Appreciative Inquiry has been impacting lives for almost 30 years.  It’s a hugely exciting initiative.  Our intention is to elevate the discourse of AI to a new level using social media to communicate and broadcast the breadth of Appreciative Inquiry and to highlight the growing numbers of applications through personal stories.

The World Inquiry invites folks from all over the world to share their experiences of how they have been touched by Appreciative Inquiry and help create a viral message of positive change.  We're asking folks to record their stories on video (using mobile devices), upload them to the web and be made available  on the soon to be  re-vitalized AI Commons.  They will serve as a rich, searchable database for doctoral students, AI practitioners, AI trainers and consultants, and anyone interested in first hand reports of the power of Appreciative Inquiry to create individual and collective positive change. 

Question 1: Finding Appreciative Inquiry

How, where, when and by whom were you introduced to Appreciative Inquiry? What compelled you most about it? What is it about AI that you connect with most?

World Inquiry - Ada Jo Mann

In listening to Ada Jo, you will learn about her amazing and fabulous contributions to the world.  She began her long career in international development as a Peace Corps volunteer in Chad. Years later she helped create and then became the first Director of the Small Project Assistance Program, a 30 year partnership between USAID and the Peace Corps. After Peace Corps she moved on to USAID where she met and worked with David Cooperrider, creator of Appreciative Inquiry to whom she was introduced by Jane Magruder Watkins, another tour de force in Appreciative Inquiry. Ada Jo and David created the GEM Initiative, a seven year multi-million dollar grant from USAID to improve the organizational capacity of non-governmental organizations in all regions of the world using Appreciative Inquiry. GEM served as a living laboratory for the development of Appreciative Inquiry

Ada Jo, as so many others who “find” AI, reflects that it was like a “home coming.”  Questions she had been asking right at the outset of her long career were implicit in the world view of AI.  Questions such as

  • How might we build on the strengths of this community?
  • What if we were to include all stakeholders in the vision?
  • How can we include all the different perspectives in the design of this new program?

Question 2:  Appreciative Inquiry Impact on You

Where and how has AI made a difference in your life and work? How has AI changed things for you? How has AI brought out the best in you personally and or professionally? (In the way you work, do business, in your family, etc.) Please tell a story that  highlights how AI has had an impact on your life and/or work.

Ada Jo shares many stories in response to these questions. If you want to learn about some of the history of Appreciative Inquiry, listen in.  She also refers to a number of synchronicities that have touched her, and right at the outset of our conversation, she comments on how the interview I conducted with Tom Myers on Synchronicity as an Emergent AI Principle rings true for her.

Two key principles  of AI stand out for me as I listened to Ada Jo:  Questions are fateful;  and the act of storytelling.

Questions are Fateful

The questions you ask start the change.  We call it the Simultaneity Principle.  Ada Jo tell us that it was in fact a question put to her by another AI colleague, Neil Samuels at the end of an Appreciative Inquiry gathering that provoked her to initiate the World Inquiry on Appreciative Inquiry.  Neil asked Ada Jo if she'd followed up on all the work that she had done during the GEM project.  That question was the impetus to make it happen!

The Act of StorytellingWorld Inquiry - people networked

When we tell stories, we tap into the collective
unconscious. Storytelling is universal, it crosses all cultures.  The oral tradition is one of the oldest, and as part of the Appreciative Inquiry experience, sharing your own story with others opens up the possibilities for deep connection. For some people talking about personal strengths may be difficult, but telling a story of what's working well and how you were part of that comes out more easily and taps into all cultures.   When you experience that collective energy at AI Summit, it's truly magical.

Question 3: Your Innovations

One of the beauties of AI is that it can be adapted and re-imagined depending upon the needs of  the situation in which it is being applied. Have you had an opportunity to create innovations to the original 4-D process? What did your innovations look like? How have you used them? Please share an example of your innovations using AI.

Throughout this interview, Ada Jo's many contributions and innovations are woven into her stories.  A few more include the book she collaborated on with Diana Whitney, Jen Silbert and Dawn Dole called Positive Family Dynamics.  The book came about because participants in workshops and summits would say “I could use this with my family.”  Listen in to how Ada Jo describes the collaborative process of creating this book.

Other innovations include the founding of the AI Consulting Group which is no longer, but served a number of global consultants to collaborate and stay connected in the early days.  Significantly, AI Consulting sponsored the first AI Global Conference in Baltimore, MD in 2001.  The design of that first conference has remained as a standard for all future conferences and a precursor to AI Summits.

When I asked Ada Jo what she valued about herself, she talked about her strengths as an opportunity finder and creator of innovative designs and solutions together with her drive and organizing skills to get things done.   What a combo!  I certainly recognize the visionary who makes it happen. With Ada Jo, it's not an either /or, but a both/and!

The Poet – Creator of Heroic Crown Sonnet

As a final treat in this episode, I invite Ada Jo to recite her latest Heroic Crown Sonnet.  She explains what this special kind of sonnet is.  Her first composition about her time with the Peace Corps was very well received.  The one she recites for us is entitled the Appreciative Inquiry Crown.

Ada Jo has kindly allowed me to share her Appreciative Inquiry Crown.  What a joy to be able to read this sonnet – still a work-in-progress. Please open up the Positivity Lens Reveal  below to view.

positivity lens

POSITIVITY LENS REVEAL

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You'll get a thrill out of this Heroic Crown Sonnet whether you are experienced in Appreciative Inquiry, or reading about AI for the first time.  Ada Jo captures the essence, the spirit, the process and all the possibilities that can emerge.  Please enjoy!  If you'd like to be in touch with Ada Jo, her LinkedIn profile is available below and her email is provided in the footer of the PDF.

How to Connect to Ada Jo and Links Mentioned

Ada Jo's Website: Innovation Partners International

Ada Jo on LinkedIn: Ada Jo Mann

Ada Jo's Book:  Positive Family Dynamics

Articles by Ada Jo and Collaborators

Confessions of an AI-coholic

Collaborative Conversations, Creating Positive Family Dynamics

Ethiopia Summit

Liberia International Development In AI Practitioner

International Development GEM – A Positive Revolutions in AI Practitioner


Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

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Listen on Google Play Music

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If this episode was helpful or enjoyable to you,

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  • I'd love it if you can leave a quick review, on iTunes and Stitcher.

How Intergenerational Dialogue can Spark Imaginations and Generate Creativity With Kristin Bodiford – PS047

Intergenerational Dialogue Episode Overview

My guest Kristin Bodiford believes that that magic can happen when people come together around issues they care deeply about. She shares a number of moving and funny stories of her work in community building with different populations across a broad range of issues around children and families. Most of the issues are challenging, yet through dialogic and collaborative practices, she has seen people create changes that come from tapping into their strengths as individuals and as communities.

Introduction

Kristin Bodiford on Intergenerational DialogKristin Bodiford has great strengths and experience working in a variety of communities and populations in the US and overseas.  Kristin is Representative for Generations United to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSC) at the United Nations advising on social development policy related to aging, youth, families and intergenerational solidarity.

Kristin is also an adjunct professor at Dominican University, Graduate School of Social Work, and teaches at the Taos Institute in the Master of Relational Leading program.  She continues to research in the area of how tapping into and strengthening our relational resources helps us to propel social innovation.

Intergenerational Dialogue Builds Community

Community Strengths is both the name and the focus of Kristin’s work.  In collaborations with others, and using a number of dialogic, collaborative and relational practices, such as Appreciative Inquiry and circle approaches, she works with many different groups, for example:

  • forming collaborations to help people re-enter society after time in jail
  • working with Boomers in leading dialogues across the cities in Oregon
  • supporting children and families who experience domestic violence
  • attending to aging and around children and families
  • working with young people who are labelled, delinquent, deviant  and dangerous
  • developing programs to promote healthy aging

Project after project, Kristen and her collaborators experience that through the relational process of dialogue and co-action, real social innovations happen. In conversation and through stories, the imaginative capacity is sparked leading to creative solutions that address issues at the local level.

A Strategic Approach

Intergenerational approaches are strategic.  Intentionally bringing the strengths of the different generations together when ordinarily they might not meet or engage in dialogue enables each generation to hear the different perspectives and generate creative solutions to issues. What can result are new understandings, new meanings and new relationships.

What is most exciting in the work that’s being done in the intergenerational space is the intergenerativity capacity of the different generations. To learn more about this take a look at Peter Whitehouse’s paper in the links section below.  To quote from it:

“… generativity involves conversations between two or more people about an idea with long-term implications, whereas intergenerativity implies a cultural conversation between generations distributed through time (and potentially space).

Positive Outcomes

Kristin shares many examples of the positive outcomes that come when you focus on community strengths by engaging the different generations. It helps, but it’s not necessary to bring the generations together around a specific issue.  Sometimes just coming together in a gathering so all the perspectives can be heard that produce unexpected and creative solutions that would not have happened if these diverse voices had not come together.  Furthermore, informal mentoring goes on when people work together around issues they care about.

Intergenerational Peace Circles is one such example.  A number or community based projects get started when the conversations start, are deepened and the relationships form.  As the increase in understanding between the generations rises, fear and distrust diminishes.

Listen in to Kristin telling the beautiful story of Miss Mary Perry and the Intergenerational Gardening project she initiated. Miss Mary Perry. 90 years old inspired young men to grow community gardens.

Positive Aging – what is that?

Think about how positive aging is presented in advertising.  How truly representational are the images and narratives associated with positive aging.  We talked about the need for a different narrative around aging.  Kristin is researching healthy aging.  One lovely perspective that Kristin shared from a colleague in Africa on this topic:

“healthy aging is supporting the beings and doings that give meaning to us.”

We also talked about quality of life as a broader dimension of aging.

Generations wiser together

Whenever you can create the opportunity of bringing people together for intentional conversation around issues that matter to them, magic does happen.  The relational field of co-creating through sharing our stories results in a fusion of conversations.  The potential to ignite sources of creativity that might not ordinarily happen if such a gathering had not happened.  The deep human connection through the intentional bringing together can tap into sources of creativity and spark the imagination.

Kristin reminded us of a project we shared some years ago on the topic of “Flourishing Destinies”.  A “flourishing” springs forth from conversation when people enter into a relational process. In such a case, it’s not a strategic plan or a given agenda, but the spark of creativity and the generativity comes from the conversations and the coming together.

Listening Deeply

It grows over time and it happens when we learn to be in relationship with others. It takes practice, it requires us to slow down, to learn how to be in relationship. When we practice and are intentional, we can be wiser together.  We increase our capacity to be together in new ways.

Learning to slow down and listen deeply was an insight gained by a young man as part of an intergenerational initiative that Kristen was part of in her role as an adjunct professor at Dominican university.  Do watch the video to hear this young man say it for himself.  The link in below.

In conclusion we talk about about the processes that facilitate real human connection, fostering inclusion and wholeness. Strengths-based, appreciative and relational perspectives support us in creating spaces and places where we can all be included and valued, wherever you are in your life span and whatever generation you are right now.


PPositivity Lens NotebookOSITIVITY LENS for this Episode

Download Kristin's suggested “positive activities” for this episode: Hint- it’s about having more intentional conversations with different generations; and pay attention to the narratives you are co-creating.

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Click the button below to open your activity sheet for this episode:

Connect with Kristin

Links Mentioned In This Episode

Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

Listen to Stitcher

Subscribe-iTunes-180x120

Subscribe Via RSS

If this episode was helpful or enjoyable to you,

  • I invite you to share it using the social media buttons on the bottom of this page.
  • I'd love it if you can leave a quick review, on iTunes and Stitcher.

Finding Energy for Positive Change will Boost your Productivity

positive changeWe’re educated to use our so called “left brain” to be analytical and solve problems and make endless lists and focus on things that need changing because they don't work.  Think about your meetings at work and other social interactions throughout your life.

This trajectory most likely started with how your parents taught you to be a good boy or girl growing up. It continued with your relationships with teachers at school, and then your bosses at work.

This meme seems to be the traditional way across most post industrial cultures.  We value our analytical brain, our executive brain, but that brain doesn’t run our lives when we are faced with fear or anxiety or the unknown, or when feeling discomfort or insecurity and especially when we feel vulnerable.

Recently, I was present in a meeting after a software roll out in an global bank.  They name these meetings “post mortems.”  Really!  The language is already ominous.  It smells of death.  The leaders of the meeting, by default, as most of us do, focused immediately on the things that went wrong and failed in the rollout.

Indeed, these things needed addressing, but the tone of the meeting within minutes of starting was spiraling downwards fast and people’s energy was deflating and eye contact dropping to the floor for fear of the blame game.

Energy Spiraling Upward

So, imagine if the team members (or the leader) had started the meeting with:

“We’ve just had a global roll out of a product we’ve been working so hard on together for months, and it went pretty well. In fact, it went great!

“Let’s start this meeting congratulating ourselves by spending a few minutes on what worked well from our individual perspectives and then we’ll address what we need to change.

What are we proud of in this roll out?  What good feedback have we had from clients?  What really worked well?”

The tone and the energy starts to pick up and spiral upward, a different set of chemicals fire within the brain and there’s energy to listen to each other, collaborate and increase engagement and productivity.  Solutions to problems and a willingness to address them begin to emerge without even having to drag them out of reluctant mouths.

RS_2005_04_29_0588The people in the room experience a different energy and begin to initiate changes from a place of engaged, solution-focused creativity and possibility.

Energy for Positive Change

This is one of the lessons of embracing change from a valuing or appreciative perspective.  You first discover and focus on what works and all the existing assets and then the weaknesses or faults begin to come into the conversation and they get addressed also – but from a very different place.  It’s a place of we’re-in-this-together:  we’ve just praised ourselves for what went well, and now we can together begin to address what we need to fix and improve on.

Appreciative Inquiry

In summary then, Appreciative Inquiry  (AI) as a change methodology looks for what’s already working well in a person or situation, not what’s broken. It takes a little practice to make that shift, as our default seems to look for what’s wrong in ourselves, each other and society at large.

One of the key principles of AI is ‘what you study grows’.  If you study deficits, you’ll find many, and if you study success, you’ll find a lot of it. Appreciative Inquiry is both a way of thinking and doing.  It provides a framework and a method to initiate positive emotions,  thoughts and actions that can produce outcomes directed with intentionality toward affirming life, heightening positive energy and uplifting the human spirit.

How do You View Change?

Focus on the changes in your own life.  If you stop to appreciate what you have already working for yourself, in terms of what has helped you to get to where you are today – it could be your past achievements, past successes, past and present relationships, your network, your skill sets, your personal attributes – you might just have a shift in perspective about what you might change, or how you might view certain changes that are happening to you.

What’s your default disposition to change? What kind of changes do you fear and avoid at all costs; and what kind of changes do you embrace with positive energy?

I’d love to hear from you as I'm developing an online course on change and I'd love to hear your perspective.

 

Community Strengths and What Makes Us Human, With Jean-Louis Lamboray – PS015

Our guest, Dr. Jean-Louis Lamboray, is Co-founder of Constellation, a non-profit global community development organization. Jean-Louis’ passion is to stimulate local responses where people realize their strengths, their collective capacities and begin to take action toward their dreams. It’s a strength-based, positive approach with the emphasis on real experiences, practice and people doing it for themselves.

Episode Overview – Community Strengths and What Makes us Human

Dr. Jean-Louis Lamboray in episode 15, "What Makes Us Himan"Dr. Jean-Louis Lamboray co-founded a global organization, called Constellation 10 years ago.  It’s a Belgian NGO working around the world to stimulate, empower and connect communities.

Since co-founding Constellation, Jean-Louis has co-created a strengths-based approach to community development called Community Life Competence. The organization is a non-hierarchical network of people and organizations delivering strength-based approaches where learning emerges from within the community and is transferred to others outside.  (Please note, I use the term “community” throughout,  yet this work applies equally to all organizations).

Strength-based Community Development

What Constellation does best is to show that when a community discovers its strengths, it takes ownership, it starts to act and mysterious things happen.  In this episode, I invite Dr. Jean-Louis Lamboray to comment on his own beautiful words inserted below. If you want to be inspired, and if you like good stories, you will absolutely enjoy my interview with Jean-Louis.

For some mysterious reason, I have always felt that at their core, people were good, and that they could achieve a lot if they were engulfed with trust. I keep being amazed by the power of a positive outlook on people and situations. That power not only transforms the situation, it has transformed me.

Program Failure Births a Positive Epidemic

Jean-Louis starts with a story when, as a medical doctor, he was working at the World Bank and together with UNAIDS, he co-founded a program to deal with the AIDs epidemic in a region in Thailand.  He considers the failure of that project – after 5 years of success at arresting the epidemic through local responses, there were no changes in the program’s policy at the institutional level to deal with epidemics at the local level – provoked him to change his own actions.

What actually happened is that he learnt so much from the communities who were able to deal with adversity successfully that he eventually founded Constellation in 2004.  Since then, he has worked on most continents co-creating with communities the process that has become the Community Competence Cycle.  The cycle is SALT, and it stands for:

Stimulate, Appreciate, Learn,Transfer

The cycle starts when Constellation facilitators  visit with a community.  They visit to learn through stimulating conversations with the community.  They truly appreciate what is going on.  Dr. Lombray stresses appreciate in the SALT cycle is not an analytical process.  It is not an audit of assets.  Appreciate is a behavior where they stop and let the mind stand still, so they truly notice what is going on in the present moment. Learning emerges from the conversations and the actions that are actually making a difference.  The community members learn themselves into resourceful actions. The transfer occurs when people talk to each other and they pass on their insights and learnings to their neighboring communities and it multiplies over and over.


PPositivity Lens NotebookOSITIVITY LENS for this Episode

Download Jean Louis' suggested “positive activities” for this episode: Hint- it’s about applying S.A.L.T. to your life.

 

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How to Start a Positive Epidemic

With this appreciative disposition, we create neither sinners nor saints. We appreciate that people are good at the core.  We observe their strengths and their competencies.

By looking for what’s working in communities, these three things happen at minimum:

  1. the way we ask ourselves questions and reflect together enables us to learn to recognize our own strengths, allowing us to continue doing what works
  2. by tapping into our own resources to collectively address community concerns, we learn what more is possible
  3. we are transformed by those conversations and learnings which then multiply over and over. An excellent indicator of success is the transfer.  It comes after the community realizes that we can do it by ourselves.

Thereby, a positive epidemic is unleashed. The process is generic. Every group has within the essential resources to carry out action towards a dream.

What Makes Us Human

Dr. Lamboray’s book, What Makes Us Human is available in French and Spanish and will be available English by the end of 2014.   It’s a book that tells the story of Constellation and the SALT cycle.  It verifies that, as humans co-existing on this plant we are all in this together.  The most appropriate metaphor for organizational life comes from nature, not from machines.  Our organizations are evolving.  That’s a beautiful thing.

What makes us human is our connection with others, with nature, with our innate gifts; and, as humans, our aspirations are similar the world over: we want to be free to have dreams; we want to find ways to work together, to be truly happy at work, and most of us are in service of a higher purpose.

This is a longish podcast.  If you’re interested in life-centric change, community engagement, positivity, empowerment, how to unlearn and move out of the cage of rigid constructs, you will truly enjoy listening to Dr. Jean-Louis Lamboray.

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Books Mentioned In This Episode:

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In combining our talents, I am noticing the impact we are having on our clients as we work with them to help them make the shift to mobile devices.

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Professional Story

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Passion1-240x300More Good Passion

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Robert J. Vallerand, Professor of Psychology at Universite du Quebec a Montreal defines passion “as a strong inclination toward an activity that people like, find important, and in which they invest time and energy.”

Vallerand's model posits the existence of two types of passion – harmonious passion and obsessive passion – each associated with different outcomes and experiences.  Read more

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ishot-15This great story attracted my attention.  This is the business model of the future.  It speaks to our “positive core” – a collective force of the best of who we are, what we do and have, not only valuing our collective strengths and aspirations, but acting on them.  In our interconnected, socially networked world, when we apply our tools and technologies wisely, and we mix in our creativity, innovation and human spirit, positivity and collaboration abound. Read more