Experience AI: A Practitioner's Guide to Integrating Appreciative Inquiry and Experiential Learning
by Miriam Ricketts and Jim Willis, of Executive Edge, Inc.
Taos Institute Publications, 2001
Price: $14.95 US plus shipping and handling
Paperback, 78 pages
This volume invites you to share in a conversation around the power and efficacy of embedding experiential learning models, tools and techniques into appreciative inquiry in order to accelerate positive change, motivate teams and individuals, generate buy-in and engage people at all levels. By sharing and learning from experience, people attain the high levels of rapport, empathy, trust and mutual understanding necessary to risk and embrace change together. When integrated into each stage of an Appreciative Inquiry, Experiential Learning supports and illuminates the AI process, making AI "come alive" for all stakeholders. When designed into an AI process, experiential learning allows participants to actually experience "the best of what exist" (Discovery), creates opportunities for organizational "peak experiences" (Dream), provides opportunities to experience, practice and refine provocative propositions (Design), and builds critical mass as change is cascaded throughout the community (Destiny).
"I should tell you that the book has been unbelievably useful to me -- I have used it for at least six separate client team building processes so far this fall, and it constantly provides me with benchmarks and ways of looking at the process that is ROCK SOLID -- both the continuous learning cycle, and the 4-D approach."
-- Celes Davar, President
"The book 'Experiencing AI: A Practitioner's Guide to Integrating Appreciative Inquiry With Experiential Learning' provides a glimpse into the world of experiential/adventure-based training and development. If you work as a 'helping professional' -- trainer, consultant, educator, therapist -- this book introduces you to the practice of Appreciate Inquiry and experiential/adventure training in a short, concise, and easy-to-understand format.
As a seasoned organization development consultant and experiential educator, I found the book fascinating in its description of the kinds of activities and interventions the authors use with their clients, and came away energized thinking about how to incorporate some of these strategies into my own practice. I was also amazed, and to be honest somewhat skeptical, to think that you could get a group of corporate executives to fully engage and buy-in to some of the activities described in the book given the level of commitment and intellectual/creative demands they required. And yet, if what one hopes to accomplish as, say, an organizational consultant working with a senior-level management team, is a breakthrough in trust, communication and problem-solving skills, and performance, then the integration of Appreciative Inquiry with hands-on, real-world experiential activities strategically designed to mirror the kinds of workplace demands that the client faces daily seems to be a powerful and effective strategy.
My wife, who has a private counseling practice, has increasingly begun to explore and integrate both the Appreciative and experiential aspects of what this book has introduced her to into her practice, and is discovering a whole new way of engaging her clients. What is interesting, is that for both my wife and I, we have always struggled with ways to reduce our client's dependency on us as 'experts', and to increase the degree to which they take ownership of not only their problems and issues (or, opportunities and dreams), but also to own and control the process of learning, growth, and discovery. Curiously, in their book, Ricketts and Willis describe a part of their organizing philosophy about just such a phenomena when talking about 'transfer of learning' and the underlying dynamic tensions that exist between client and consultant.
Both of us are also exploring how to bring this into our work as university professors in relation to the training we provide students in human services, education, and business. I especially am excited about how to integrate aspects of Appreciative Inquiry into the graduate-level courses I teach on research methods, program evaluation, and organizational needs assessment.
This book has opened our eyes to new ways of seeing our work as helping professionals and educators, and we highly recommend it to beginning and seasoned practitioners."
-- Richard F. Flor, Ph.D.
Core Faculty School of Human Services Administration, Management, & The Center for Social Sciences Research, Capella University