March 19, 2012

Detroit Facilitation Guild

March 19, 2012

Appreciative Inquiry


Sandra Yu

Sarah Szurpicki


Jacob Stevens Corvidae

Kathy Murphy

Alison Heeres

Sarah Coffey

Meeting Minutes:

Jennifer Young

  1. I.                   Welcome and Intros


  1. II.                 Favorite Birthday Teaser Activity
    1. This activity could be considered part of one’s facilitation toolbox.
    2. Structure of activity:

                                                              i.      Groups of two (each person has a partner)

                                                            ii.      The meeting facilitator asked participants to write down what was their favorite birthday.

                                                          iii.      The meeting facilitator asked participants to write down what made it their favorite birthday.

                                                         iv.      Next, the first person in the group shares about their favorite birthday and what made it their favorite birthday while the other person listens for about 30 seconds.

                                                           v.      Next, the second person in the group shares about their favorite birthday and what made it their favorite birthday while the other person listens for about 30 seconds.

                                                         vi.      The facilitator reconvenes the group together and facilitates the group in sharing what they got out of the activity.

  1. Benefits of structure of activity:

                                                              i.      “I knew that I would have the time to share all that I had to say” (because of knowing upfront how much time each person had to share)

                                                            ii.      Creates the space for people to reflect before speaking

                                                          iii.      Participants can opt out of sharing with the entire group because they have the option to share with a partner

  1. III.              Theory of Appreciative Inquiry
    1. Sandra and Sarah Szurpicki’s background are participating in the Great Lakes Leadership Academy (GLLA). GLLA is a leadership program which meets once a month for 18 months. GLLA utilizes the practice of Appreciative Inquiry (AI).
    2. Sandra and Sarah reviewed the handout, “Appreciative Inquiry – “a new yoga of inquiry”.
    3. Jacob asked how to frame AI. Sarah S. responded that by focusing on the things that are working it crowds out everything else. AI creates a new way for people to share what we have in common. AI fosters unlikely partnerships. AI is an opposite paradigm to “problem solving” – it is a systems-wide approach to creating relationships and can be used in any situation in which people are in relationships. There is also a concept of “Appreciative Living.”
    4. Examples of when to use AI:

                                                              i.      Employee evaluations – provide examples to employees of what is working

                                                            ii.      Conflict resolution – can facilitate finding common ground

  1. Jacob asked how to craft/introduce the concept of AI. Sandra responded that trust in the mediator is key. Sarah responded that the process can’t be rushed – to be effective it must be based on having a relationship with each other.
  2. Why is it so much more effective to share about what works?

                                                              i.      It energizes people

                                                            ii.      It brings people together

                                                          iii.      It helps excite people’s imaginations

                                                         iv.      It is aspirational – it imparts a sense that I can contribute something

  1. How can AI be used in an organization?

                                                              i.      Ask:   

  1. What worked?
  2. What lessons can be learned that are relevant to the person’s other experiences? (e.g. how could what worked about identifying a caterer for an event be applied to finding a venue?
  3. What could we do more of?


  1. AI vs. Brainstorming

                                                              i.      Brainstorming fosters idea generation

                                                            ii.      AI focuses on reflection

                                                          iii.      Studies show AI to be more effective

  1. How do we acknowledge what we didn’t want (i.e. what is not working) inside the model of AI?

                                                              i.      (1) At beginning of dialog, create our shared norms. Give time to creating the atmosphere where people feel safe to share.

                                                            ii.      (2) Living your shared norms. Create a safe space.

                                                          iii.      (3) Acknowledge what did work

                                                         iv.      (4) Acknowledge where we didn’t meet our goals.

                                                           v.      (5) Ask, how do we do more of what worked?

                                                         vi.      (Ongoing) Check-in. How is our process going? Grant people the freedom to share criticisms.

                                                       vii.      (Ongoing) Learn to think appreciatively


  1. Teaser Activity

                                                              i.      Facilitators asked: What was your most positive teamwork experience?

                                                            ii.      Participant answers:

  1. Ego set aside
  2. Trusting my partner / teammates
  3. Clearly defined roles
  4. Clear goals
  5. We share goals, values, vision, standard of excellence, expectations, emotional bond
  6. My efforts are appreciated
  7. We are there to work together


  1. IV.              +’s & D’s
    1. Facilitator challenge: Identify 3 things a week you can appreciate between now and the next Detroit Facilitation Guild meeting to be shared at the next meeting.


Next Meeting:

Wednesday, April 25

Facilitators: Alison Heeres and Sarah Coffey

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