Belgium Appreciative Inquiry Network Surprised by Outcomes

Belgium Appreciative Inquiry Network Surprised by Outcomes

There are many stories like this, we need to lift them up, learn from them: World Appreciative Inquiry Conference co-organizer

An Appreciative Inquiry (AI) learning network launched in 2008 with 80 people from diverse organizations sprang outcomes co-organizer Luc Verheijen says he never envisioned.

One unforeseen experience was the depth of connectivity within the group.

The original mission of the network was to create organizational practices that inspire and enable people to bring their whole selves to the workplace. Extraordinary innovation, achievement and personal fulfillment were envisioned as the result.

Appreciative Inquiry was the theory and method applied.

After a four-day session introducing the AI approach, the bond within the network was unmistakable, says Luc.

Luc Verheijen

“I remember we as facilitators had a ceremony to end the (first session), and at a certain moment these participants just took over our ceremony,” he recalls.

He describes the group breaking into song, citing poetry and playing music.

“I was so wowed at that moment by the strong connectedness that was made possible between people who had not met before.”

He notes the feeling of collective purpose in that group was especially poignant.

“There was this sense of, wow, all 80 of us are going into our own organizations, in all of these different fields and sectors of societies, to (create) innovations and projects based on strengths-based development, on Appreciative Inquiry.

“Imagine what will happen if all of us succeed in doing these projects? What are we making possible?”

A second surprising outcome was the scale of influence made possible through this network.

A year after the network launched, the 80 participants were well into projects based on AI within each of their respective organizations. They were working on strengths-based team development, and leadership, whole-system approaches to innovation and strategy and applying AI to new-hire selection and learning processes.

A survey showed a total of 5,000 people were directly engaged in the innovation projects.

Further estimations revealed 15,000 people were, in some less direct way, also connected to strengths-based leadership and development ideas and practices as a result of these projects.

Luc says the scale of influence was a complete and meaningful surprise.

“I think that number gave the whole network a feeling that we are doing something that we can no longer call only learning or innovating; it’s about making a movement,” he adds, noting he felt excited and humbled by this realization.

The success of that first network has sparked the launch of a second, now in the works, which emphasizes innovation and connection to the “uncommon other” and the opportunities in that connection to ignite extraordinary outcomes.

Luc adds if you look worldwide, there are many of these kinds of stories of AI creating change, from seven summits now effecting massive transformation in regional development in Brazil, to AI framing the co-construction of a national identity in South Africa.

As co-organizer of the World Appreciative Inquiry Conference 2012, slated for April 25-28 in Ghent, Belgium, Luc’s hope is to bring people involved in these experiences together, to accelerate and amplify even greater change.

 “We want to see what we can learn from them, and what kind of energy we can get out of these stories to do more of them,” he says.

— More to Come

To learn more about the World AI Conference, visit the conference website.

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Michelle Strutzenberger

Michelle Strutzenberger aims to lift up the gifts and possibilities of community through her work as a connector, curator and codifier with Axiom News. Besides traversing through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, sharing, connecting and finding treasures to curate, she is dedicated to finding new ways to illuminate what the Axiom News team has learned, gathered, and accomplished over the years. Michelle has more than 15 years of experience as a journalist with Axiom News. She's most grateful for the incredible people she's had the privilege of encountering through this work.

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