Words Create Worlds®
August 2015 Newsletter
Company of Experts Consulting Services
Creating & Celebrating the Possibilities of "What if..." 


Summer is underway in Southern Nevada.  The rays of light penetrate through the clouds - giving us the warmth that a " being" finds refreshing, invigorating and energizing. Mother Earth is giving us the entrée to be out and about creating, imagining, & celebrating "what if "?
What does "What if " mean for you, a friend, family member or those you work with on a daily basis? In reading a quote from Henry Ford, his "what if" might have been, "Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success."  To me, it means working with others - using ones imagination to be able to feel a change, see it, sense it, feel it and best of all redirect my focus to possibilities. No matter the descriptor or definition it is working and communicating with others. It is about us, all of us. 
Recently, we had the opportunity to read and review the fine work (practicums) of many of those that have joined us at our Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Trainings somewhere throughout the world.  The stories are touching, encouraging and most of all speak of individuals coming together with a common purpose and outcome,  as Henry Ford stated, "...working together is success."   
Individually, what small step can we take today that will help us create a positive difference for others?

Kathy Becker,
President and CEO,
The Center for Appreciative Inquiry
In This Issue:
Appreciative Resources:
Can Imagination be Measured?
Behold, the new multimillion-dollar effort to quantify what happens when you let your mind wander.

What is "imagination," exactly? "At the most basic level, imagination is the mental representation of things that are not immediately present to your senses," says Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. That is, imagination is whatever you're thinking about when whatever you're thinking about isn't actually there in front of you. And some people may be a lot better at it than others.

As scientific director of the Imagination Institute, a new nonprofit branch of Penn's Center for Positive Psychology, Kaufman is helping coordinate a multimillion-dollar effort to quantify what happens when you let your mind wander.

Understanding how imagination works is important because it's responsible for much more than just helping you visualize rotating landmarks. Planning your future, empathizing with a stranger, knowing your audience, outwitting an opponent, creating something beautiful, designing something useful - all of it requires, at the very least, an ability to form "mental representations" without any props.

By attempting to quantify a person's imagination, Kaufman and the Imagination Institute hope to bring forward an alternative to traditional, IQ-oriented standardized testing. They call it "The Imagination Quotient." Read More>>
Do You Have the Personality to be an Inquiry-Based Teacher?
So far, the challenges of transforming education into a system capable of inspiring students to become skillful, creative, knowledgeable problem-solvers fall into familiar territory: What types of curriculum, standards, skills, strategies, and adaptations to classroom teaching methods will be necessary to do this?

But it's likely these will prove to be secondary questions. As education crosses the divide between a transmission model and an inquiry model, a more pressing issue will be apparent: How do we identify, attract, nurture, and train teachers who have an "inquiry-friendly" personality?

The issue already is in view. When a teacher comes out from behind the lectern, leaves the front of the room, kneels beside a student to coach them through a problem, offers feedback designed to promote confidence and perseverance, and becomes a true partner in the learning process, the relationship between teacher and student automatically shifts. It's no longer about telling; it's about listening, observing, and creating the channel of trust that opens up a personal connection between two individuals. Read Full Article>>
Importance of Core Teams in Appreciative Inquiry (Podcast, part 1)
By: Melissa Robaina, Marketing Director, The Center for Appreciative Inquiry
Core Teams, as many of us know, serve as our champions for Ai interventions - igniting and fanning the energy within a group or organization to keep the excitement alive as they move towards their shared vision of their preferred future.

Kathy Becker, the President for the Center for Appreciative Inquiry, has (and continues to do) amazing work in the field of Appreciative Inquiry. Having seen the role Core Teams play in the success of Appreciative Inquiry interventions, Kathy designs and delivers workshops to provide continuous development and learning opportunities for Core Team members. She has delivered these workshops around the World - and with great success.

In her interview with Robyn Stratton-Berkessel of Positivity Strategist, Kathy shares her learnings and insights in her work with Appreciative Inquiry and Core Teams.

" Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead. Listen to Podcast>>
Appreciative Inquiry and the Power of Negative Thinking
Why we need to overcome our negative bias and six ways to do it...
All of you who are familiar with the Appreciative Inquiry approach to organisational, project and personal development will be aware of the following "Big Five" interlinked and overlapping principles that underpin the paradigm:
  • The Constructionist Principle (words create worlds) - the filters through which we interpret the world create our reality in other words the map is not the territory. These filters shape our language, communications and day to day interactions; so focusing on possibilities rather than limitations helps us to generate a better future.
  • The Simultaneity Principle (inquiry is an intervention) - systems move in the direction of the questions we most persistently ask and change happens from the moment we begin our inquiry; so consistently asking empowering questions plants the seeds of positive change.
  • The Poetic Principle (we author our own histories) - people interact and learn through stories, and like poems and books the narratives that shape our lives are open to different interpretations; so we can enhance the prospects for success by replacing the stale old narratives of stress, conflicts and shortcomings with stories of individuals, programmes and organisations at their best. Read Article>> 
How Successful People Think: The Reframe that Creates Results in Life
Nothing kills great ideas, limits possibilities or destroys creativity like a big, fat excuse. There are a thousand different ways to make excuses for what is happening or not happening in our lives. A powerful way to become aware of when your excuses may be blocking opportunities is to listen to your language.

Don't zap a great idea with a, "Yes, but...."  You might as well say "No." It's not just about semantics. "Yes, but" literally puts the brakes on our brain's ability to think- crushing our sense of hope and ability to innovate. In a group or team the impact of this can be devastating.

A quick and simple way that you can turn around this "But" thinking is to reframe it.  When you start to think "But...." And all the reasons and excuses that something may not happen for you simply replace "But..." with "And...."

And is powerful.  And unites opposites, opens up opportunity, creates possibilities that weren't evident before.  Couple and with yes, and you have a winning combination. Read Article>>
5 Principles of Appreciative Inquiry Cheat Sheet
The five core principles should be seen as the building blocks of AI, with the constr­uct­ionist principle as its foundation stone and the poetic, positive, simult­aneity and antici­patory principles as rising pillars. There are many theories and discip­lines that have influenced the principles of AI, or are aligned with them. As the shift away from Newtonian thinking continues, and we embrace new thinking on our world and its systems, there's a plethora of related reading - Ken Gergen's writing on social constr­uct­ionist theory (in which AI is very much rooted), amongst others; positive psychology (Martin Seligman and Barbara Fredri­ckson) and new sciences like chaos theory, complexity theory and quantum physics. Read Article>> 
How Positive Language Rewires Your Brain for Good
By: Robyn Stratton-Berkessel of Positivity Strategist

I bet you know that you can rewire your brain for good. The more aware you are of how you're programing the software between your ears, the more insights you'll have about what you're thinking, your day-to-day behaviors and the long-held beliefs that inform your life's narrative to date.

Take your working environment. If you describe it as hostile and toxic, there's a tendency to shrink and become fearful, your programming is likely to inform you that people are not to be trusted and that resources are scarce, competition is tough; consequently, you narrow your focus.

This short post does not address why this happens. It addresses the value of increasing your awareness about how you use words and language. It proposes that increasing positivity into your linguistic repertoire, you change your brain for good, and thereby you can shift towards increased well-being and actively contribute to creating healthier environments. Read Article>>
Why Dropping "Management" from Change Management is Good For Results
We have certainly all heard it at some point: Everybody wants change until we ask people to actually do it.

The interesting thing is this: Despite the fact that we are creatures of habit, what we deeply want is to change so we can become better versions of ourselves. Think about it for a second; haven't you made improvements in your work situation? Also, consider the large number of people who want to lose weight on January 1st?

The natural question that comes next is this: If we all really are creatures of change, why is it that we hate it when it hits us at work? Why is it that 70% of all change initiatives still fail?

The one thing we hate above all else is when change is imposed on us-the sort of change we have not chosen ourselves. It sounds pretty obvious when you pause and reflect on it. In fact, it might even almost sound too simplistic. We all dislike having things shoveled down our throats. It is this type of change we reject. It is this sort of change that makes us go through the slow and painful internalizing of so-called Change process as initially described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief. But make no mistake, 'internalizing' change does not mean 'embracing' it. Learn More>>
When School Leaders Empower Teachers, Better Ideas Emerge
Teachers are increasingly being pushed into new roles as their ability to connect online opens up new opportunities. Educators are finding their own professional development, sharing lesson plans and teaching tips with colleagues around the world, and have often become ambassadors to the public on new approaches to teaching and learning. Easy access to information has empowered many educators to think and teach differently, but often those innovations remain isolated inside classrooms. Without a school leader who trusts his or her teachers, it is difficult to convert pockets of innovation into a school culture of empowered teachers.

One way of building that kind of unified school culture is through distributed leadership, the idea that no one person at the top of the hierarchy makes all the decisions that will affect the work lives of the adults in the building. Instead, the school principal or district superintendent empowers teachers and staff to run crucial aspects of a school, such as admissions, professional development and new teacher mentoring.  

"Distributed leadership is not 'I empower you to do exactly what I say,' " said Chris Lehmann, principal of Science Leadership Academy in an EduCon session about how to effectively distribute power. Often leaders believe they are distributing power, but they are actually just delegating. For teachers to buy into a system like this, which asks more of their time outside class, they must feel they are professionals trusted by leadership. Learn More>>
We Are Looking for Appreciative Inquiry Trainers

The Center for Appreciative Inquiry is seeking experienced trainers, coaches, consultants and facilitators to become certified to teach its Appreciative Inquiry Trainings and Workshops. Trainers will be certified to deliver our various workshops (to business, community, non-profit, education, etc.) to support the growth and interest in Appreciative Inquiry focusing on dialogue, collaboration and how the human systems thrive.

We are looking for high energy people with a commitment to helping others develop and grow as internal facilitators and to be part of creating a better World Community.  If you are grounded in humans systems flourishing demonstrated by your views of social change and by participating in the AI Community, you may be a good match for this program. Learn More>>