If, like me, you work with teams to help them improve their performance, you know that they are under increasing pressure to produce quick results.
Pressure makes people narrow their focus right down to achieving targets.
Unfortunately, it also shows up any weaknesses in the team.
The focus on ‘getting results yesterday’ often means relationships within the team are neglected, leading to mistrust, cynicism and blame culture.
The more this happens, the more it shuts down trust, openness to new ideas, and creative thinking – the very things that the team needs to find new solutions.
As a change agent, this can be frustrating. You know that the people in the team can do better, if they weren’t holding themselves back by lack of trust and poor communication.
But getting hard-pressed team members to trust each other more and communicate better isn’t easy – especially if they resent any time spent on this as a distraction from hitting their deadlines.
So as a coach, facilitator, and trainer, I was always looking for more effective ways of coaching and engaging teams.
When I came across Appreciative Inquiry – a leading-edge method for getting people to focus on what’s working and do more of it to get better results – I knew I had found that more effective way.
Each time I used Appreciative Inquiry, I was amazed by how quickly it could:
I’ll confess, it took me a long time to get confident using Appreciative Inquiry. As it was usually presented, there was a lot of academic language, and it wasn’t always easy to see how to translate the theory into practical, step by step actions.
Gradually, I gained experience in using the method, with participants ranging from prison officers and apprentice engineers to business owners and elected representatives.
I got plenty of practice in how to explain Appreciative Inquiry to all kinds of people in a business-friendly way, without the alienating jargon.
About ten years ago I started teaching a two-day Practical Appreciative Inquiry course to show other coaches, trainers and business owners how to get started with Appreciative Inquiry.
Many of the participants who have taken that course told me that they had read up on Appreciative Inquiry, maybe even taken some training in it, but they needed confidence about putting it in to action.
They needed to know that they’re doing it ‘right’, about when to use it and when not, and how to apply Appreciative Inquiry when they are working in cynical, negatively oriented corporate cultures.
From what the participants on that ‘offline’ version of the course have told me, and from how they’ve been using Appreciative Inquiry since completing the course, I know that it’s possible to give you everything you need to start using the method with confidence in a short time.
And from the many online Practical Appreciative Inquiry courses that I’ve run since 2019, and from what previous participants have reported back, I know that coaches, trainers and change agents like you can take what they’ve learned in the online course and start applying AI in the real world.
The aim of the Practical Appreciative Inquiry course is to give you everything you need to get started using Appreciative Inquiry with teams and small groups, even if you’ve never used Appreciative Inquiry before.
The curriculum goes like this:
Pre-Study: Intro to Appreciative Inquiry, where it came from, why it works, Principles, and the 5-D format (Definition, Discover, Dream, Design, and Delivery or Destiny)
Week 1: The ‘Definition’ stage: how to craft Affirmative Topic wording, a quick way to ‘flip’ problem statements into Affirmative Topics, a checklist of characteristics for successful Affirmative Topics, how to acknowledge ‘negatives’ and move beyond them, and what to do when it’s hard to get the topic wording right.
Week 2: How to facilitate the Discovery stage, and how to conduct successful Appreciative Interviews (formats, how to craft questions, what interviewers need to know)
Week 3: How to facilitate the Dream stage, formats for building a shared vision, how to encourage the ‘non-creative’ participant
Week 4: How to facilitate the Design stage, how to ensure quiet/introverted participants are heard, formats for getting from Dream to Delivery
Week 5: How to facilitate the Delivery stage, the Fishbone/Swim Lanes format for quick, inclusive planning, when (and when not) to use Appreciative Inquiry, review of course experience.
On top of the lessons, you also get:
The course now includes 33 learning-packed instructional videos (also available as audio and transcripts) covering every stage of the Appreciative Inquiry 5D cycle, to view at your own pace so you can back up the learning you get from the live calls and have a reference any time you need it in the future.
Dates: The Practical Appreciative Inquiry online course is a programme of pre-study (using videos, audio, and documents) followed by 5 group coaching calls that meet online via Zoom for about 90 minutes each Sunday from 23 January, along with weekly action assignments. The final call will be on 20 February.
Times: There will be two course groups running in parallel.
One group will have calls at 09:00 (9AM) UK time to suit participants in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The other group will have calls at 17:00 (5PM) UK time to suit participants in the USA, Canada, and the rest of the Americas. Participants in the UK and Europe can choose either time slot (check here for how these times work in your time zone)
Group size: This is a small-group course to ensure you get enough individual attention. I will be accepting a maximum of 12 participants per group.
Support: You also get a one to one coaching session with me after the course to help you plan your first implementation of Appreciative Inquiry. Previous students have said they have found this extremely valuable.
Each live lesson will include the opportunity to ask questions, and of course you can email me with your questions in between lessons and in comments on the course platform.
Your commitment: Pre-study will be around two hours at most. There will be some assignments in between each session, with a time commitment of around an hour per week.
Another big upside when you participate in a ‘live’ course like this is that you get much more access to me than there would be in the more traditional kind of online course where you only learn by watching videos. And it still keeps the big advantages of online courses, that you can attend it from anywhere in the world, without travel or accommodation costs, and you have a video of each lesson that you can review as many times as you want.
As it’s a small-group course (maximum 12 participants per group), email me first at email@example.com to make sure there’s still a place available.
Then click this button to book your place:
Until I joined and participated in the recent course I had been ‘self-taught’, and although I did not think I was doing anything wildly incorrect, the course has really helped me to develop my AI practice. This has mainly been in the areas of planning and increasing my focus on asking better questions. I have noticed that my facilitation skills have also improved. I would say this is highly recommended, not just for the course content and delivery but also for the additional resources/materials, and the connections in the media platforms.
Response from Coaching Leaders
I had a great experience taking Andy’s Practical Appreciative Inquiry course. There are plenty of Internet resources available on this well established methodology. But what I needed was a “safe space” to affirm my understanding. To ask (a lot of!) questions, and bring some nuance and insight to all that I’ve read.
I think the most important word to lean on in this course is “Practical” (which is what I valued most about it). Andy and the course help you to get your arms around the concepts so you feel confident in applying them. Whether you are immersing yourself for the first time, like I was, or needing to fine tune (we had both newbies and very experienced practitioners in my group), this course provides an accessible way to get a clear-eyed understanding of Appreciative Inquiry.
Response from Coaching Leaders
Thanks Ariel – you probably are the record-holder for most questions asked, but they were great questions and I learned a lot from responding to them!
(Note: only reviews from genuine graduates of the course will be published)
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