Participants from Around the Globe Teach Real World Techniques of Using Appreciative Inquiry
On November 15, Weatherhead Executive Education welcomed back business and not-for-profit leaders from around the world to take part in an intensive three-day Advanced Workshop on Appreciative Inquiry, as part of the Appreciative Inquiry Certificate in Positive Business and Society Change. Facilitated by AI co-originators Dr. David Cooperrider and Dr. Ronald Fry, the program teaches participants a proven approach to accelerating organizational change by redirecting focus to core strengths. Participants started their AI training in April with Foundations and Frontiers in AI, an interactive program where they discovered how and why Appreciative Inquiry works and learned how to frame questions that open the floodgates for positive change. From here, participants left energized and excited to put their new training into practice.
Throughout the summer, participants engaged in a “Positive Change Project” that would not only make a positive difference for others, but also stimulate personal and professional growth and add to the AI community’s learning. Through these projects, participants become teachers and co-creators of AI with each other. Participants also had the opportunity to join in a global inquiry on business as an agent of world benefit. Participants conducted multiple interviews with social and business change leaders in order to capture golden innovations and visions of a future where business and society are even more positively connected. The November workshop brought participants back together to share their experiences with the application of AI in the corporate, nonprofit, and academic fields. They shared stories of breakthroughs and valuable lessons learned along the way.
Don Eggleston, director of Organizational Development for SSM Health Care-St. Louis, completed the Appreciative Inquiry Certificate in Positive Business and Society Change in November and shares his experiences. Read about what drew Eggleston to AI; what he learned by engaging his own organization in the process; and how he plans to use Appreciative Inquiry in the future.
Q: What is your current role at your organization?
In my current role, I am director of Organizational Development for SSM Health Care-St. Louis. Our department does leadership development through the provision of management education and internal consulting services.
Q: How did you first learn about Appreciative Inquiry and what prompted you to learn more?
I learned about AI from a colleague. She told me that she had had success using AI in leading a change initiative in her organization. I began by reading two articles she gave me. I read several books on the topic and wanted to learn more. I eventually decided to use AI (with her guidance) on an initiative in my organization that ultimately met with exceptional results. As I got my feet wet on a few other modes to organizational applications of AI, I decided to become a real learner, which culminated in my attending the certification workshop.
Q: What did your Action Learning Project entail and how has the application of AI impacted you professionally and/or personally?
In my Action Learning Project I compared the effectiveness of using AI on four separate initiatives within my organization. I discussed how AI served as an effective methodology for gaining substantial employee engagement in each initiative and how we were able to utilize the "4-D" process in keeping the employee teams on task toward significant improvements.
Q: How will you continue to use Appreciative Inquiry in the future?
I use AI essentially as a foundation for my efforts as an internal consultant. I find it to be an excellent tool for getting people to overcome "tired," cynical, deficit-based thinking about organizational issues and to help them to utilize their vision and aspirations to drive improvements. I sometimes employ AI questions and approaches without fully using the AI model. I've also used AI in doing strategic planning with a secondary school where I serve as a board member.
Q: What did you find to be the most exciting and/or influential part of attending this program?
I loved several things about the program: learning to use AI judiciously and with more confidence; being exposed to the "Business as an Agent of World Benefit" work that is being undertaken in marvelous ways in many places around the globe; and the opportunity to learn new thinking that is rooted in possibility and capability, and how to more effectively activate those levels of capability.