LifeWorks Today Podcast → 07 Game Changing Appreciative Inquiry

Share this...

Episode Title:  Game Changing Appreciative Inquiry

“We must become the change we wish to see in the world.”


“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Albert Einstein


In all my past podcast episodes, the bottom line in what I share is that I’m describing conditions and conversations needed for the success of individuals and groups. This is culture at its most foundational. Such conditions and conversations either help people feel encouraged and support them to gain courage, to grow and to participate in their life and in their work or they don’t. Now is a time where it’s evident how strong or weak this is within people. Too many people are suffering in inferiority complex, failing to experience the 4 core needs to feel empowered, lovable, connected and contributing and unable to take responsibility for what they think and say and do. They have an under-developed ability to motivate themselves from the inside out and to build the types of relationships with themselves and others that feed needs for courage and forward movement, despite circumstances. There is no better time to showcase the particular tool and concept of appreciative inquiry.

The work I do is designed to provide specific support systems in which people ultimately are enabled to handle whatever life throws at them. Right now, the major stressor of the day is the Covid19 pandemic with all of its challenges. But before, during and after it, ongoing stressors include ever faster speed of change, complexity, globalization and new technologies to name just a few. In fact, in my work, I’m often involved in stress-producing situations like changes in leadership, unresolved and persistent negative behaviors, rapid growth, mergers, acquisitions; anything that creates uncertainty and fear. That’s because when stressors occur, that’s when we can see the strength or weaknesses organizationally and individually.  In the vast majority of people uncertainty and fear result in catastrophizing; a coping mechanism most people turn to because they believe it will help them to survive what’s happening. And this takes a major toll on us and slows us down. That’s why I’m bringing this particular topic to you today.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What is appreciative inquiry?
  2. Why does it matter?
  3. And how does it work in actual real-world situations?

Appreciative inquiry is a powerful and often unknown communication tool that forces our minds out of catastrophizing and into possibility thinking that mobilizes us so we rally to be part of a solution and that helps us have hope as individuals and as groups.

Episode Guest: Lisa Dean

Lisa Dean is a project manager at Esse Health and works in the software development area. In her role, Lisa is responsible for daily planning, scheduling and controlling the project deliverables, while building and maintaining working relationships with internal associates and the team of client contacts. She is accountable for meeting project timelines and results for customer satisfaction and must effectively communicate project goals, objectives and priorities. She works closely with 3rd party vendors and communicates daily progress of accounts to Management.

Keywords:  appreciative inquiry, 4-D Model, traditional problem-solving vs. appreciative inquiry

Story: The Bowling Team Story.

There were two bowling teams, and they were both videotaped. The first team’s video was edited so that it only showed their bad, weak, bowling moves. The other team’s video was edited so that it only showed their strong, correct, bowling moves. Both teams watched the videos for the purpose of improving their games.

Which bowling team was able to improve its bowling game: the team that focused on its mistakes or the team that focused on its successes?

The team that watched its mistakes collectively improved by 30% (not bad huh?!) The team that watched its strengths collectively improved by 100% (doubled) and probably enjoyed the experience more.

Episode Topics:

  • Definition of Appreciative Inquiry
  • Assumptions about Appreciative Inquiry
  • Examples of Applications of Appreciative Inquiry

Definition of Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative: A favorable assessment, admiration, approval or gratitude Inquiry: A request for information, asking questions

Appreciative Inquiry is asking questions that are appreciative in nature in order to cause intentional outcomes.

It is a collaborative, encouraging process that meets the core need of all people for positive, intense connection, while providing a framework for gathering and sharing information with two or more members within an organization. It allows for a sharing of the best information between people. The basic process of AI is the use of fateful questions, resulting in interviews, conversations and stories that create positive future outcomes. AI is consistent with the latest research in the new sciences, including quantum physics, chaos theory, complexity theory, simultaneity, and constructivism. Key Idea: Appreciative Inquiry (AI) helps people access positive memories that are often otherwise ignored.

Assumptions about Appreciative Inquiry

  1. In every workplace, something works.
  2. Looking for what works well is more motivating and effective than looking for what does not work.
  3. What we focus on becomes our reality.
  4. Conversation and dialogue create images and images create reality.
  5. The act of asking questions begins the change.
  6. Organizations move toward what they ask about or focus on.
  7. We have more confidence and comfort to journey to the future when we bring forward the past.
  8. If we bring parts of the past forward they should be what is best.
  9. By the words we use to anticipate and describe reality, we create reality.

Examples of Applications of Appreciative Inquiry

  1. Greeting: “How are you?” or “What’s the best thing that has happened to you today?”
  2. Building teamwork: “When have you had a similar situation in the past and handled it well?
  3. What would this relationship look, feel and sound like at its best?”
  4. Leader (i.e. work, school): “Turn to someone and share one thing you did this weekend you’re proud of.”
  5. During a meeting: “What outcome would you feel happiest with? How would you and the others be feeling; what would you be doing?”
  6. Scenario (Marriage): “What would your marriage look like at its most ideal?”

Resources: There are many articles related to this topic. Judy’s articles on the topic include:

If you feel so inspired, we would appreciate your willingness to give us a 5-star rating on this podcast!

Interview Transcript


Welcome To Life Works today this podcast is provided so that together we can create a world in which all people love their lives our current human systems aren’t working the way of superior versus inferior or management versus employee or adult versus child we need a powerful positive and sustainable transformation this podcast is for you who seek to be happy fulfilled and peaceful so that your Abundant Life Works

today so welcome everybody to Life Works today this podcast is designed to bring you hope and to bring you some new ideas and boy we really need some of both of those right now today’s episode is called gamechanging questions appreciative inquiry and for many of you you might not even know what that is so I’m going to take some time to kind of go over what that is with you in all my past episodes the bottom line in what I’m sharing with you is I’m describing conditions and conversations that are needed for the success of people as individuals and in groups that’s what really culture is that it’s most foundational we have the culture of us we have the culture at our workplace we have the culture at our homes and in our churches in our neighborhoods culture is just the conditions and conversations that you sort of stand for so those conditions and conversations either help people feel encouraged and supported and help them really gain courage to grow and to participate fully in their life or in their work or those conditions and conversations don’t support that so now is a time where it’s really evident how strong or weak culture is within people and between people a lot of people are suffering in that inferiority complex they’re failing to feel those four core needs of feeling empowered lovable connected and contributing and they’re unable to take responsibility for what they’re thinking and saying and doing at times because they’re so stressed from what’s what’s going on right now and when we have an underdeveloped ability to motivate ourselves and to really have a lot of good self-care what happens is that we get really stuck and so I don’t think there’s a better time right now to showcase the particular tool and concept of appreciative inquiry the work I do is designed to provide specific support systems where people ultimately arable to handle whatever life throws at them so right now the major stresser of today is covid-19 with all of the challenges of that but before this pandemic and during it and after it there’s always ongoing stressors some of the stressors that we I’ve been dealing with are many people have been dealing with for the last years and and moving forward are the faster speed of change the amount of complexity the globalization that we’re experiencing the new technologies just to name some of them so my work is often about helping people in stress producing situations like before this pandemic we would work with companies where there were changes in leadership or persistent negative problems conflicts underperformance or where companies were experiencing rapid growth or mergers Acquisitions really anything that creates uncertainty and fear is where you can see the strength or weakness of individuals and groups and in the vast majority of people when uncertainty and fear hit the result is that people catastrophize it’s a coping mechanism that a lot of people turn to because they think it’s going to help them survive what’s happening and what happens instead is that catastrophizing takes a really big toll on us and it actually slows us down and weighs us down so that’s why I’m bringing this particular topic to you today so the questions I want to answer for my listeners in this episode include what is appreciative inquiry why does it matter and how does it actually work in real world situations so first of all what is appreciative inquiry it’s a powerful and often unknown communication tool that forces our minds out of catastrophizing and into possibility thinking that really mobilizes us so that we can rally to be part of a solution instead of you know fall into being part of the problem so today I’ve invited a special guest that I’ll introduce in a minute she’s a person who not only learned appreciative inquiry in a culture transformation process that her company adopted from Life work systems she applied it in some very specific and significant ways and that’s why I invited her because when she shares real life examples it’ll help all of you to understand the relevance of this tool and the difference it can make in people’s lives so as we go into a little bit more about appreciative inquiry I want to give you a couple of opening quotes because I love quotes they really say things in a way that just inspire me so one of the quotes that really goes with this topic is when Gandhi said we must become the change that we wish to see in the world a lot of times we ride on the change others want to see in the world but really we must become that change and then this is a really uh great quote from Einstein there are only two ways to live your life one is as though nothing is a miracle and the other is as though everything is a miracle so I I I can see that happening all over the place sometimes people think oh my gosh this is a disaster and it is on some levels but there’s they’re also missing that everything is a miracle that everything is helping everything that everything is happening to strengthen something in us so I want to just go a little bit deeper into what is appreciative inquiry it’s a favorable way of assessing something it’s focusing on what we admire it’s focusing on what we approve of or what we feel grateful for and this is not about being positive thinking necessarily just for the sake of avoiding negative feelings it is not a denial of negative feelings but it’s using questions that are appreciative to cause intentional outcomes and I’ll go into some examples of that so you understand what I’m saying so appreciative inquiry is a very collaborative process that meets those four core needs of all people and the the needs for positive intense connection while providing this structure for Gathering and sharing information with just even if it’s just two people or a whole team of people it allows the sharing of the best information and stories between people so the basic process of appreciative inquiry is the use of intentional or fateful questions which result in interviews and conversations and stories that create positive outcomes in the future so appreciative inquiry is consistent with the latest research in the new Sciences including quantum physics Chaos Theory complexity theory simultaneity meaning that everything is being built side by side and constructivism so quantum physics is saying what we focus on is what we manifest when we are in community the chaos within that Community is organizing into either a solution or a problem so how do you manage complexity in a positive way and how do we build things simultaneously that’s what’s going on in the world right now around agility or digital transformation just a lot of the trends that are occurring are responses to our need to create together positive outcomes so appreciative inquiry helps people to access positive memories that are often ignored otherwise so I want to give you two stories to kind of explain that to you let’s say you’re a person that’s married to someone and you’re having problems in your marriage and you go to a traditional marriage counselor just as an example not that appreciative inquiry is just for counseling or anything like that but if you went to a traditional counselor what they would do is they would have you identify the problem so you know what’s the problem in your marriage and maybe the wife says well he never helps me with the chores and maybe that counselor that traditional counselor will try to get to the root cause of it and maybe that wife will say well I think it’s because his mom did everything for him and it’s and kind of spoiled him and then maybe the counselor will start brainstorming with them about some things they could do like making a shared schedule of chores or something like that and then that counselor might help them develop some kind of action plan like what they’re going to do next and so what happens is that the problems in this example are thought thought of is a problem that has to be fixed so in appreciative inquiry it’s a very different process so that same counselor would say I know you’re here because you have some problems to work through and I’m we’re not going to ignore that but I want to ask you first when were you most in love what was happening when you were most in love can you tell me the story of that will you tell me what you thought about each other what you said to each other what other people thought about you what other people said about you what were the happiest memories you had together what are the success stories of your marriage right now what are the things that you’re doing well together like maybe they’re parenting well together they agree on finances or something what are those stories and he’s really pulling all of the details of that what kind of strengths do you both have and then instead of brainstorming a solution what there that person would be doing is asking what would be the vision for your marriage if it was the most supportive possible what is the story of that what would you be telling people about when you’re on the other side of this problem what are you saying to each other about your more improved and positive and successful and encouraging marriage what would you be thinking and saying and doing about all of that what would be happening differently and then let’s focus on that what would be a next step that you would take so really instead of looking at anything as a problem to be fixed the idea of appreciative inquiry is to approach everything kind of as a mystery and as an opportunity to really look at and re-evaluate what we have wanted what we do want and what we want going forward that really brings happiness and a lot of us don’t take time to even ask ourselves what am I feeling and what do I want as most of you that have been listening to this series you’ve heard me say it over and over again sometimes we just it’s almost alien to us to think what am I feeling what do I want in our work with companies a lot of times appre itive inquiry is huge when people are learning how to identify their purpose and their values and their Visions for how they’re going to live out their purpose and so that’s a subject for another podcast but I just want you to know appreciative inquiry is something that when we are most successful at solving problems we’ve already inadvertently moved into appreciative inquiry and so what this is about today is to help you more intentionally move toward appreciative inquiry another story story that I wanted to share with you is an example of a bowling team there were these two bowling teams and they were both videotaped and the first team’s video was edited so that it only showed the bad or weak bowling moves and the other team’s video was edited so that it only showed their strongest most correct bowling moves and both teams were asked to watch the videos for the intention of improving their games when I’m telling this story in groups I’ll often ask them what bowling team was able to improve their bowling game was it the team that focused on its mistakes or was it the team that focused on its successes and most people will say well of course it’s the team that focused on its successes what’s interesting is that both teams improve because intention is so important so just holding the intention that I want to improve my game has power of its own but here’s what happened that I thought was so interesting the team that watched its mistakes together improved only by 30% % that’s not bad but the team that watched its strengths collectively they improved by 100% in other words they doubled their scores and they probably had more fun watching those videos than the ones that were like oh my God look at what I just did so it’s not that we can’t solve problems through catastrophizing although a lot of times it causes a whole new set of problems it’s just that it’s the hard way to do things and and you know we just need to recognize that our natural tendency is to going into that catastrophizing so I’m encouraging you to choose something like appreciative inquiry as part of your strategy in your life so that you don’t fall into that habit of focusing on what’s broken what’s not working what’s a problem and all of the heaviness of that so now what I’d like to do is I’d like to introduce you to Lisa Dean Lisa is a project manager at Essa health and she works in lots of different areas related to software development an it kind of projects I’m gonna let her explain that a little bit more if she wants to but she is very flexible kind of a person that works on a lot of different kinds of initiatives she’s been doing that for over 15 years and almost five years at Essa health and Essa Health in this area that Lisa Works they have fully immersed themselves in the Life work systems culture transformation so I’m so proud sometimes when I hear about some of the great work they’re doing and how strong their teams are and what’s going on there and Lisa came into this department and she learned all these new Concepts and tools she really wholeheartedly adopted them and appreciative inquiry was one that she took really far with some of her teams and so I wanted her to be able to talk about that because it’s one thing to conceptually understand a tool or a concept it’s another thing to actually hear stories about how it’s being used so without any further Ado I introduce you to Lisa Dean hi Lisa hi thanks for having me today I’m so grateful especially with you being in healthc care so Essa health is in healthcare and they’re really swamped So Lisa I really appreciate you taking that time to do this with me absolutely is there anything you want to tell our audience about yourself that maybe I’m just you know skimming over too much I think you told about my history well I do everything from software installations that are needed to internal projects that need attention that are business cases that we need to adapt to new rules or better enhancements for our EMR anything like that when you manag you manage teams of all different sizes yes I can manage a team that we might have just maybe internal and we may have five to 10 people if I’m working with a vendor I could be working with 20 people 10 from our side 10 from their side just depends I will say that one of the things as project managers that we intuitively do is we automatically jump into traditional problem solving we get a charter it tells us what a business case is what the goal of the project is and any potential problems or opportunities that we might run into so it lends itself to us getting into digging in the dirt and not panning for the the gold appreciative inquiry it just hit to the soul of what I do every single day it was an easy transition for me to go oh I need to start sharing this appreciative inquiry with my teams and I wanted to see what the difference in Attitude as a group what it made and it was significant and how everyone left a conference room after a project meeting so that was probably one of the biggest things for me that I ran into with appreciative inquiry that was helpful and insightful to me yeah because you had come into learning this tool after at least 10 to 12 years of doing it the old school way right correct yes yeah and when you describe typical project manager falling into the digging through the dirt you know it reminds me of the classical description of men men are often described as jumping in and trying to fix a problem when a lot of times the storytelling about what’s happening is the most important part and then the problems very organically sort of arise or if you are telling the stories that are nightmarish then more problems seem to arise right correct yes everybody falls into let me start telling you everything horrible that has happened or could happen and so I really started my project meetings out with talking about the dream state forget all the rules forget all the parameters that we have to live in forget that they exist and let’s just talk about what would we do if we could do anything and that really put us on a foundation for starting the conversations out in a more positive direction and you could see people light up they’re like oh wow how fun is this to you know think about Solutions without any rules for just a few minutes really successful it’s like the opposite of catastrophizing it’s It’s dreaming instead and what’s kind of interesting for those of you that are listening this particular group in Essa their mission is to find Joy through faith in possibilities and so this appreciative inquiry Falls right into that right you’re focusing on what are what are the possibilities the positive possibilities absolutely that’s awesome I’m going to give a couple quick examples for the people listening to what’s the difference between regular communication and appreciative communication and then maybe we can talk about how you applied this kind of thing in the very structure of your some of your projects so an example of appreciative inquiry is if I were to say to you Lisa how are you today your head might go to the place of gosh I’m really tired I didn’t sleep last night you know my kids drove me crazy whatever the scenario is you could go there or you might do what traditionally people do which is say I’m fine which is not bad or good but if I asked you the question what’s the best thing that’s happened to you today your mind would go into a totally different process of thinking through that it would go into a different neuro pathway in the brain and what’s really interesting about it and you probably have experienced this yourself is sometimes when we ask an appreciative question like that people still tend to want to go into the negative so they might say well the best thing that happened is I made it to work on time today but I had this problem with this you know because were so conditioned to focus on what’s broken or wrong as a coping mechanism so that’s just to be aware is even when you’re using appreciative inquiry somebody could still go down a negative path so it’s not wrong if they do it’s just helpful when you’re doing appreciative interviews to pull them back okay so that’s really the worst case scenario that you did not expect today what would it look like if you were able to have a day without that tell me that story so appreciative inquiry is a way that you build Teamwork because when I was telling that story about the husband and wife being in front of a counselor if that wife is saying oh he doesn’t ever help and his mom spoiled him and all that now what you’re doing is you’re creating conversations of scarcity and blame and criticism and that does not Foster Community or healthy relationships so simple things that could be a good appreciative inquiry question would be to ask your family what’s one thing you’ve done recently that you’re proud of or what kind of outcome would you feel happiest with or how would you and other people be feeling if it was the way you wanted it to be so Lisa kind of alluded to that that she came into her meetings differently and had this different outcome Lisa can you tell the audience a little bit more about some of the projects that you and I worked on because I know there was one in particular where we did a phone call together and really went over the process and I don’t know if you feel you know ready to do that but let me know whatever you want to share with them I would love for them to hear that sure so we had a project and it was about taking a different approach to getting any patient concerns into a different format and how we were going to do that and the first thing I asked the team to do was say and our kind of Discovery phase of saying what are we doing that we’re doing well so we started there and that really kind of lifted the momentum for the conversation then we moved into the dream state that I was talking about of what’s the best thing that can happen if we had no rules no parameters if we could do anything we wanted to do and I think that that really lifts some of the burden and the tenseness to coming up with Solutions and so then we were really able to get to that third phase of Designing what the future was going to look like for us with with that project and really thinking outside the box and and everyone just you know started brainstorming in a way that was really intuitive and positive and you could just tell that there wasn’t that cloud of we can’t do that H what about that I don’t know that we’ve tried that it didn’t work we just had a much different approach to it and people were engaged and then you you know you take it to the fourth state of delivery and what are we going to actually do with all these things we talked about and how can we Implement them and so that 4D kind of cycle that you talk about in appreciative inquiry was huge and getting us to a point and I would watch I would kind of stay back and as everyone walked out of the conference room and I saw smiles on people’s faces rather than you know they’re digging through their binders what’s my next task what do I got to do now it wasn’t a mundane task at that they had to add on to their day it was something that they were excited about doing and being a part of yeah you know it’s so funny that you say that because when we do the appreciative inquiry workshops live and we have the group stand up and do appreciative inquiry interviews with each other the energy in the room just goes up and up and up and up like everybody starts laughing and talking louder and more joyfully and with more enthusiasm and afterwards I’ll often say you know what do you guys know notice about what happened to the energy in the room you know it really is true that what inspires us builds that momentum as you said so I really love the fact that you were paying attention to the energy of things because the energy of things will affect somebody the entire day so those people that were in that meeting they probably went forward and had a much different neurot track that they were on for at least some time as a result it’s a wonderful feeling when you see people walk out with a smile and not a oh what I got to do I’m I’m overwhelmed or I’m more stressed now or whatever yeah exactly so Lisa I want to take a minute to really review with our listeners that life work system specializes in Performance Management through healthy culture transformation so I’m inviting you the listeners to go to our website and learn more about lifework systems we have videos on just about every page we have over 200 published articles we have webinars we have my book can be downloaded we have free surveys there’s so much information on there including information related to today’s podcast episode or any of the other podcasts our website is life workor we hope that you’ll come and subscribe to our podcast you can find the main points of each podcast and a list of all the previous podcasts so we also invite you to join our mailing list so that you receive information on the new things that come out just about daily and also if you want to contact us you can find our phone and email information as well most of us have not necessarily been invited to share a story we’re not necessarily taught to be storytellers one of the reasons Lisa that I went into this work with ityan psychology or individual psychology it’s often called is that in my family my parents were more about teaching me than letting me teach them any that’s why I’m such a teacher now probably what I see in one of the four core needs which is helping people feel lovable it’s letting them tell their stories so in appreciative inquiry I remember when we kind of went over this what are the questions that allow us to kind of get all the meat off the bone so when I was sharing the story about you know tell me when you and your wife were the happiest what what were you saying about each other what were you saying to each other what were others saying to you and about you and so I think it’s kind of new for people to open into their story because we’ve almost been discouraged like come on get to the point as opposed to that finesse of like getting the entire picture of what somebody’s saying to us did you find that to be a new experience or difficult in any way or what’ you think about that part it was definitely a new experience you know it’s it’s about creating those images and creating a reality and really changing a mindset to give people confidence and comfort in being able to spit out anything because of that dream phase it made that possible for everyone to just have a more motivating approach to it I think did you find at first that people had a hard time learning how to kind of pull all the goodness of the story forward I know that was what was new for me when I first learned it like wow it feels weird to be asking so many sort of image driven questions and yet I got excited about their story yeah I mean it was very easy to fall back into the oh let’s solve the problem back into the dirt and I would kind of just change the way I asked the question to be in a different light or more positive appearance and I just kept doing it and it was interesting how everyone just kind of got on board without even really noticing right right and it’s interesting that you use the phrase I would change up the question because a lot of times for me that would look like tell me the story of what would be happening even using the word story for me has helped people to relax into oh she’s not asking for a one word or one sentence answer she wants me to tell her the story I almost think we’ve been shamed for telling our story and we actually should be encouraging each other to tell our story because that gives us hope but it also sometimes does uncover things that we can then move through and go to a more positive side of it when I first learned about appreciative inquiry my kids were still at home and I learned about how powerful our speaking is anyway like we’re always telling a story in our words like for example when I would leave my kids before I knew appreciative inquiry and I would leave them with a babysitter I would say things like now be good don’t give her any problem you that’s a catastrophizing kind of thing to say whereas an appre of inquiry just having the awareness of it I would say hey I know you guys are going to have a great time and I would be able to say to the babysitter these kids will be so helpful to you and I’m sure you guys will have a blast together and so appreciative inquiry starts changing the way we talk about a lot of things because we either become a person that’s looking for those problems and focusing on them or we’re looking for what can we put into a conversation that is is like fertilizer you know to grow something instead of weeding where we’re consciously trying to kill the weeds so anyway I just noticed that it kind of changed my mindset about Communication in general because we really are always telling a story I think it’s harder to translate it into my day-to-day home life than it was at work I have to work a little harder at home okay have you tried using it at all there or yeah can tell me a story about anything you’ve done with that at home well sure I have a 17-year-old so you can only imagine some of the stuff that happens but um so you know she’s out on her own I’m trying to stop saying okay remember to do this remember to do that don’t do this you know I’m saying oh I know you’re going to make really good decisions out there you’ve been your good hard worker and I know that you have good head on your shoulders so I’ll see you later you know I’m trying to change the way I say things like that yeah it is part of working and you know what made me think of when you just said that is in redirecting negative behavior which is another topic but Lisa will know what I’m talking about when we’re helping somebody in the goal of inadequacy what we’re doing at times is saying oh my gosh I remember the time when you solved X Y and Z and we tell that story to remind the person you’re a very capable person but we have to go into the question within ourselves what’s a positive story about this person so we’re either using appreciative inquiry to help people and to help ourselves or we’re not really in anything we’re saying and thinking so appreciative inquiry is a very practical thing because you’re always looking for an an intentional question that would lead you toward a success you have had a success you are having or a success you will have you can see could happen I remember one time I was having an argument with somebody on my team and we were going to meet and talk about it so before we did I could feel this trepidation about it a lot of stress inside of myself about it and what I did was I asked myself appreciative questions like when have I been really successful on a team what are the stories of that and then what is it that I do well on teams right now even with this person what is it I do well with them and what would be the most positive outcome I could imagine at the end of our conversation and I remember even envisioning by the end of this conversation we’re going to be smiling at each other we might even hug each other we might be saying things like oh my gosh I never thought it could turn out so good and that’s exactly what happened it was really interesting because I remember him approaching the table where we were meeting at a coffee shop and I could see this sort of like protected look on his face but as soon as he sat down and we got started because I was in a different place he quickly moved into a different place with me I didn’t enter him in the fear he entered me in kind of the appreciative mind that I was sitting in and by the end of it everything I had envisioned was happening we were smiling we were laughing we even hugged each other and both said oh my gosh this is great I’m so grateful and so I just know that I consciously thought to go do that but it’s not always easy at Leisa when I was sharing this information about healthy culture transformation I really can’t think of a better organization than Essa for doing that is there anything that you want to say about your experience on the team or observing the team related to this culture transformation process well I have an interesting perspective because I was in a department that didn’t engage in life works for the first couple years that I was at S Health first two or three I was at S Health and then I moved into this new Department with Aaron Stam and this was a culture that they had adopted for a good year or so possibly two before I joined and it was awesome when I got I joined Erin’s team and the first thing was let’s get you guys involved in life works and let you kind of experience that and so when I see it going on and I and I’ve seen you know one on-one it’s where people have said you know what let’s take a moment step aside and and talk about what’s going on here because I’m not feeling like we’re on the same page and then they come out of that conversation and and you see a a a work relationship that is better from it all so I think that what they have adopted and what I have now adopted has really changed the way I communicate with people around me from work to home to my neighbors to whatever realizing what kind of state I am in if I’m frustrated or angry or feeling low I can reassess more about what I’m feeling and what’s putting me in that position rather than jumping to a feeling of wanting to do something that may not really be what’s going on so I had a much better understanding of communication once I got involved with life works and started really kind of working the program a little bit well it’s interesting because I think one of the places where you’re you might be referring to is when you go to mentoring maybe you’re not but when you go to mentoring the first two things that happen are expressing appreciation so even the person entering you is first asking what is it that is so awesome about Lisa you know and then sharing that with you and then what is our purpose and values and talking about that that’s already very appreciative when you enter a conversation where maybe your primary goals are to solve problems in that meeting but you’re starting out with appreciative questions really and appreciative statements when you were talking about one-on-one I don’t know if you meant mentoring or if you meant when I just meet with people I have Solutions so the difference is that whether it’s appreciative inquiry or some other communication tool you feel like you have a set of tools you can refer to that’s exactly what I’m saying yes yeah yeah and I also think you make a really valid point sometimes a company is really large like Essa they have over a thousand employees and not everybody’s been through the life work systems culture transformation and yet what I hear pretty repeatedly are people that move from one Department like you did Lisa and they experience the contrast and they realize wow this is a different experience that I’m having over here and so I think that’s a really great thing to know is that you have that bird’s eye view of I know the contrast personally up close and you know personal yes agreed so any place right now in your life where you feel like appreciative inquiry is something that since we’re talking about it you’re like oh my gosh I could use it for this is there any place like that’s happening for you oh I think that for me is just continuing to work on that in my home life and how I’m communicating with my family I think that um you know at work I think for some reason it becomes an easier process for me because I’ve adopted it for my project meetings and I start out all my project meetings with that methodology now rather than digging in the dirt I’m paying for the gold but at home I I I still have to stop and and rephrase in my head what I’m going to say before I say it sometimes oh yeah we just fall into habits I remember when one of your managers Kate was promoted she came to me in a in a session and said I guess I can’t hang out with my friend Hannah anymore and I said hey have you forgotten that this is a different culture model than the conventional model where you have to be power over someone and she was like oh you’re kidding and I said no as long as you are in the same level of holding you know people responsible or teaching people how to be responsible you don’t have to be above Hannah you know you get to still be peers with each other as long as you’re doing your responsibilities as a manager and that’s what happens when we go home it’s like we take off these great skills we might be learning at work and forget to put them on when we go home so we used appreciative inquiry one time I don’t know you probably know this story Lisa we used it in a whole school setting we did it in a project designed to teach the parents the teachers the administrators and the students appreciative inquiry so what we did in this project the whole project was more than appreciative inquiry but appreciative of inquiry was part of it and so what we did was we taught these high school students how to do appreciative inquiry and then we invited in 200 people from the outside community and the only requirement was that they had to have graduated high school and so these kids were asking questions of these adults like tell me a story of when you wanted to quit something at school but you didn’t you hung in there instead what motivated you what inspired you what gave you the determination tell me that whole story and then they asked the the adults will you tell me some of the stories about how your education proved to be a worthwhile use of your time now that you’re grown in adulthood and then they asked them a question at the end that was knowing that I’m a a City School District student what would be your best vision for my life and what happened was was the adults that came in and were interviewed were so connected with the students that they kept saying call us if you want us to come do anything else this was amazing and I really got to know this person and I remember different adults connecting with the kids and such a way that they were helping them one wanted to be a writer and and the she happened to get partnered with an adult that was an author and so all kinds of dreams started coming forward from that experience together so now those kids know how to have appreciative inquiry conversations I remember going to one of their family meetings because in our project the kids would have classroom meetings and they’d go home and have family meetings and one of the students in the family meeting said I think we need an appreciative inquiry question right now and he was one of the kids who always acted like you he was too cool for all this stupid stuff you know but then when he was at home in a family meeting I saw him use three or four of the tools and so that was very heartening for me to see anything else that you want to talk about on this I know we’re kind of all over the place I hope that other folks listening take you up on your offer to to change the the way they are going about it and and thinking about appreciative inquiry as a as an opportunity to change the way they communicate with others because it certainly made a change for me in the best I appreciate you saying that Lisa because it means a lot more coming from you than it does from me I want to acknowledge you for jumping in so wholehearted ly I know when I learned all these different concepts and tools I was very excited about them and very passionate about them but not everybody is and I have always felt your commitment your curiosity Your Enthusiasm your willingness your courage I’ve always felt it in you you fill out the surveys at the end of the training you contacted me when you needed answers to things and it’s just been a delight working with you and knowing you and I’m so grateful that you took out this time to help with this podcast today so thank you so much Ain sent me an email recently sharing how positive the teamwork is going is it still going that way yeah I think we really had a unique experience where we basically had to roll out a telea health platform to our entire company in about four days which touched everybody from it to operations to the guys you know the help desk you name it touched everybody and it was amazing everybody just jumped in and did what they needed to do and it it’s you know we have bumps along the way but we’re all working together in a really positive way do you feel that the life work systems process helped you I know that’s really putting you on the spot but do you think that made a difference for this happening yes I think the reason Aaron Stam shared that story with me about how strong the teamwork is I think she shared it because she wanted me to know that you guys were mean aing that you guys were walking the talk and it was really showing yeah when you run into a crisis like that and you know they had to get people who have never worked from home they had to get them all ready to work from home for a really long period of time a period we didn’t even really know and still don’t know so it was just under the gun for everything everybody wanted them everybody needed something from them and it was now and they just did an amazing job yeah see I think I think what’s so important to recognize in that is that you guys have have paid the dues you have done the work and so now when crisis hits you guys are strong and resilient you know I’m sure it’s not perfect but you guys are strong and resilient compared to the vast majority of people that are in this situation right now yeah and I I just believe it’s because you guys paid the does you guys did the work I think so too I think so too because I as I get more involved with I’m like it sounds like there was some hard conversations that went on that people did and had the courage to do it because that’s not easy to do to confront people that you may have had some issues with or you know that you can make your relationship better whatever the the you know the realm of it was and they have and it’s awesome yeah so they had difficult conversations but they got all the way to the other side of resolution is what I think you’re describing right yeah it looks like it do me a favor Lisa when you’re with the rest of the team or you see different teams will you let them know that I see their strengths and that I hope that they’re proud of themselves because I really do believe you guys did the work and you’re you’re reaping the benefits and I want them to know I’m I’m proud and I hope they’re proud I will definitely do that you have really changed my life for the better and I’m so thankful for it I’m glad I’m so glad to know because I miss all of you guys oh I miss you too and I want to just thank our listeners for joining us today this podcast is brought to you by life work systems and I’m the CEO and host Judy Ryan again my intent is to provide you with hope and new ideas for Greater Joy because my mission is to create a world where all people love their lives and I hope you’ll join me in that I also ask you to consider giving us a high rating on this podcast because it really makes a difference in helping other people choose to select our podcast and that way we can help more people so I hope that you make a commitment today to ask yourself appreciative questions about how can I make my life work today thank you very [Music] much thank you for listening to Life Works today this podcast has been brought to you by Life Works system CEO and host Judy Ryan the intent of this podcast is to provide you with hope and new ideas for Greater Joy in your life and work for more information on our organization and earlier podcast episodes related articles videos and more please visit our website at Lifeworks be sure to subscribe to our podcast and mailing list we invite you to join us in creating a world in which all people love their lives and where your life works today

LifeWork Systems Logo white with transparent background

Join Our Mailing List