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Shifting Power – Exciting Possibilities through Appreciative Inquiry With Tim Slack – PS55

Episode Introduction

Shifting PowerMy guest, Tim Slack is filled with energy, ideas, gratitude and generosity as he talks about his experiences with Appreciative Inquiry.  You’ll hear many references to people Tim admires, and whose work, contributions and essential being have been a positive influence in his work as a  master practitioner of Appreciative Inquiry.  Tim, along with Suzanne Quinney co-founded Appreciating People. They are recognized as UK leaders in the application of the power shifting approach of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in communities, organizations and government agencies.

Tim lives and works in Liverpool in the UK, not far from Penny Lane, of Beatles fame, and, he reports, the tourists still flock there!

Episode Overview –  Shifting Power with Appreciative Inquiry

In this episode, you will hear from Tim, how extensively and innovatively he, his partner Suzanne Quinney and their associates are applying the transformational change method of  Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in the world. In our conversation, we offer that Appreciative Inquiry is undergoing a sea change – a transformation – of its own. Tim and many other AI practitioners continually contribute to the growing number of  practical and life-changing resources, expanding upon the traditional resources of Appreciative Inquiry across the globe.  We talk about the transformative impact of AI at the individual, community and organizational levels. Tim gives examples the resources he and his team have created and the groups he’s been working with: kids in schools, surgeons and nurses in hospitals, women returning from combat in the military, curators in museums, students in universities, the homeless, LGTBQ community, clergy and members of churches and more.

Did You Discover Appreciative Inquiry or Did Appreciative Inquiry Discover you?

I like to ask my guests about their initial experience with AI because growing evidence reveals that when we have our first exposure to AI, it feels so natural to us, that it seems we have “come home” and the entire worldview, principles and practices makes perfect sense to us as a way of being and working.

Tim scored the double jackpot – he discovered his future wife, Suzanne, and AI together. It was Suzanne who introduced him to AI.  They have been co-creating and lighting up the world ever since.  Together, they embarked on a long learning journey with and about Appreciative Inquiry from some of the best teachers and practitioners.  They developed professional relationships which over time developed into strong personal friendships, collaborations and ongoing co-creations.

Influences in Appreciative Inquiry

It delighted me to hear Tim offered that my book, Appreciative Inquiry for Collaborative Solutions: 21 Strength-based Workshops was very influential in helping him see the many practical applications of AI.  He also included Jackie Kelm’s books, Appreciative Living and The Joy of Appreciative Living as examples which take AI outside of academia and big organizational development summits into small group work, day-to-day practices and personal transformation. (Links below are offered below.)

Appreciating Church – The Book

Tim shares the story about how the Appreciating Church project originated.  A range of different church communities undertook trainings in AI, but the continuity element was lacking, meaning people experienced training and it stopped there.  So Tim and his colleagues created a longer term process so that the participants had resources to be able to apply it themselves in their own communities and beyond.  The program has been getting stronger and stronger over two years and in January 2017, the book, Appreciating Church will be available. This is an exciting addition to AI's body of work.

The opening lines of the book, dating back to the 14th century, quote St. Julian de Norwich (known to be the first woman to write a  book in the English language):

And all shall be well, all shall be well… for there is a Force of love moving through the universe, that holds us fast and will never let us go.”  St. Julian de Norwich (c.a. 1342-1416)

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-6-02-50-pm

Click on the image to view a PDF outline of “Appreciating Church” – the book

Listen in to learn more about this very exciting work, what’s in the book and how it could be recontextualized to other communities.  Hint, it’s about a God of Abundance, not pain and fear or scarcity, and how we can use our strengths collectively.

With 210 people already trained across the participating churches, Tim talks about the shifts that have already occurred and the impact this work is having, as it expands.  He also pays tribute to Jane Magruder Watkins and Ralph Kelly in embarking on this work.

 

Appreciative Inquiry Resources AKA Essentials

I find it delightful to plug into Tim’s perspective.  The “resources” he continues to create for the AI community – trainers, practitioners and their clients are referred to as “essentials.” Check out the Essentials page on the Appreciating People website.   They are truly beautiful and valuable – content-wise and aesthetically.

AI – A Sea Change?

We talked about the shift that we are witnessing in the applications of AI.  The sea change lies in the acknowledgement that AI is not just about big systems and organization development.  There is a desire to find out more about “the self” and desire to apply Appreciative Inquiry for personal growth and change.  Living in times of chaos and turbulence, we are looking for resources to help us be more grounded, to give us a framework that offers us hope and possibility, enabling us to tap into our inner strengths.  AI does this.  A recent survey I conducted confirms this trend.

Journaling

The value of journaling to support the “appreciative muscle” came out of the work Suzanne Quinney had been doing with the hostel residents (Suzanne describes the power of this work in an earlier conversation I had with her.)  The questions, the inspirations, the prompts in the journals allow the person to document their thoughts, reflections, insights along their journey.  Tim has created a number of journals that are specific to different contexts.  For example, “How To Be More Awesome” for students; “Food for Thought” for people who want to strengthen their appreciative muscle. The process of journaling can help in building resilience.  Questions are drawn from Appreciative inquiry and activities from the field of Positivity Psychology, such as daily gratitude, mindfulness and wellness activities. Tim is a big advocate of multiple learning modalities, including art and humor.

Shifting Power – Ensuring all Stakeholders ARE IN

During  our conversation, one of the tools Tim mentions is the ‘ARE IN’ check-in process, created originally by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff who created “Future Search” which was based on the original Search Conferencing Participatory Planning and Design methodology. (Open the Positivity Lens Reveal below to learn more)

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One of the challenges in bringing the whole system together to explore an organisation’s development plans is to ensure you have got the ‘right’ people there.

ARE IN could be a useful mechanism to ensure buy-in and ownership – which is a precursor to shifting power – give voice to all.

This acronym is a useful reminder when planning a large scale, whole systems change experiences.

The ARE IN tool, was developed by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff, as part of the ‘Future Search’ methodology.

They recommend that a whole system event or process should include participants who ‘ARE IN’, i.e. those with:

A uthority to act (e.g. decision making responsibility in an organisation or community);

R esources such as contacts, time or, money;

E xpertise in the issues to be considered;

I nformation about the topic that no others have;

N eed to be involved because they will be affected by the outcome and can speak to the consequences;

This check list implies you have people in the room who can make decisions and who can ensure change is sustained beyond the planning stages. 

What is Excellence?

Tim leaves us with hints of what Appreciating People are beginning to work on – looking at excellence in surgical procedures in hospitals. He concludes by pondering if the next question we could be asking, after the seminal AI question “What’s already working well” is

“What is excellence?”

A banquet of food for thought!

Links and Mentions

Tim’s Wesbite: Appreciating People

Tim’s email: Tim Slack  [email protected]

Tim’s Blog Posts: News from Appreciating People

Tim’s Twitter: @AppreciatingPeople

Tim’s LinkedIn:  Tim Slack

Interview with Suzanne Quinney: Social Innovations by Appreciating People, with Suzanne Quinney

Interview with Jackie Kelm: Three Steps to Appreciative Living, with Joy Engineer Jackie Kelm

St. Julian de Norwich – Amazon Page

 

Books Mentioned in the Episode


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How to Connect, Share and Co-create for Human Wholeness, With Cees Hoogendijk – PS046

You’ll enjoy a number of threads in this conversation about how we can co-create human wholeness. Author and co-creator, Cees Hoogendijk wrote a book on Appreciative Inquiry that seeks to have people live into this mission as they read it.  

Episode Overview

You’ll enjoy a number of threads in this conversation with my Dutch Appreciative Inquiry (AI) colleague, Cees Hoogendijk. Cees (pronounced “case”) launched his third book – his first in English – Appreciative Inquiries of the 3.0 Kind, How to Connect, Share and Co-create for Tomorrow’s Human Wholeness.  (All links below.)  His intention for writing the book, his process in writing the book, his choice to distribute the book is all hugely exciting. It’s a model of the 3.0 world of tomorrow’s human wholeness.

As you listen to our conversation, you’ll feel invited into this new relational world we seek to co-create.

Touching Introduction

Co-createIt was touching for me to hear Cees’ response to my introduction to him. I did the usual very brief overview just to give the listeners a sense of my guest's background. In the introduction, I mention his new book that I want to learn more about and his professional background.  I make the comments that I view him as an integrated professional because his first degrees are in mathematics & physics and somewhere along the way he transitioned into HR Management, Learning Architecture, and Organizational Change & Development.

Furthermore, I mention that he is happily married to Karin, has 6 children, and 4 cats – down from 8 cats at one time) and he writes prolifically, and works as an independent “co-maker” and is able to live such a full life.

Finally, I mention his mission which is the Humanization of the Organization, and I invite him to lead off with that.

This is what touches me: Before even responding to my question, Cees reflects back to me that the way I introduced him reminds him of the experience we offer in Appreciative Inquiry.  Interview partners listen carefully to each other’s stories, and then summarize parts of their partner’s story by sharing it with others. It is an affirming experience when someone else summarizes your story, or your perspective.

Cees reminded me of the honor and responsibility I have in co-creating a positive relational experience with my guests every time I introduce them to my audience.  

Intuition is our Guide

I want to point out that Cees is yet another esteemed colleague who reflects that the work he is doing, the frameworks, the philosophies, the practices that are integral to who he is, and who he is still becoming were known to him intuitively before he had language or the theoretical, academic disciplines to back up his intuition.  Very early, he was already living and working in ways that years later he found to be what sought to bring to life.  His mission – Humanization of Organization – is what he sought to do before he even had words for it.

Humanization of Organization – Emergence and Wholeness

Listen in to appreciate Cees’ passion for his mission.  His curiosity around the concept of “organization” and seeking to understand the various constructs of organization is the subject of a Ph.D. he is interested in completing.

In the simplest language, it’s about organizing for optimal human flourishing; we do our work; we get together with colleagues to produce results for our various jobs; and we have a nice day while doing it.

Underpinning that uncomplicated view of humanized organization is a relational field of narratives and life experiences that inform and influence what shows up and is lived out.  Cees offers some beautiful metaphors from nature and personal life to suggest what is possible when we pay attention to the forces that connect us – not so much on the surface – but at our core as growing human beings seeking wholeness.  And, he adds, it’s not the same for everyone!

Co -create: Appreciative Inquiries of the 3.0 Kind

It was such a treat to speak with Cees about his book. It’s a work of authenticity and congruence. Cees shares a very lovely story that Dutch philosopher, Jan  Flemeling, whom he admires greatly, after reading his book, said  he found total congruence with Cees and the message in his book!

In writing this book, Cees had an intention that, as the readers began to experience the content with all the examples of Appreciative Inquiry, they would feel invited to try it out for themselves so that at the end they could say “I did it myself.”  There are beautiful practices and suggestions at the end of each chapter that facilitate such an opportunity.

Do listen in for the inspirations and collaborations that Cees garnered to write, produce and distribute his book.  Below you’ll find links to some of these inspirations and valued connections: business entrepreneurs, scholars and colleagues in Appreciative Inquiry.

Personal Transformation – We Seek New Words

Our conversation goes broad and touches lightly on some deep topics. For example:  We talk about what “being AI” is and how we can become far more sensitive in our choice of words, our daily habits and practices, and our relationships.  We agree we don’t have the words that can truly express what’s going when we are doing this “inside” work.

I really liked how Cees said that as we get more practiced at something, the time between preparing to do it and actually doing it gets narrower and narrower – that you are in the moment.

We also talked about the meaning of “positivity” and how that is understood across cultures.


PPositivity Lens NotebookOSITIVITY LENS for this Episode

Download Cees' suggested “positive activities” for this episode: Hint, it's about the four practices that Cees offers to bring greater positivity into your life.

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How to Connect with Cees Hoogendijk

References Mentioned In This Episode

Jan Flameling: colleague, Dutch philosopher and social constructionist

Seats2Meet.com: working spaces that facilitate collaborations and social enterprises of society 3.0

Rhizome – metaphor of learning and emerging social enterprise  

Appreciative Inquiries of the 3.0 Kind – Overview of Cees’ latest book

Kracht zonder Macht (2008)

Krachtbron van een Lerende Organisatie (2010)

Books 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.

Shifting from linear to holistic design

Org-chart-21-300x193Organizational cultures vary, just as human personalities vary. Many are embracing methods and tools that bring all voices to the table. Participatory, inclusive decision-making practices and use of collaborative tools and technologies, along with social media platforms to level the playing field are becoming more common, facilitating our capacity to be more experimental, productive, playful, and engaged.

Read more