Tag Archives: appreciative inquiry coaching

Is “Why” an Appreciative Question?

A few days ago I shared a fascinating HBR article on LinkedIn titled, Become a Company That Questions Everything. The article talks about how companies should encourage curiosity in the workforce by inviting employees and other stakeholders to ask questions. The article itself has a large graphic of the word “why”. As I shared the article on our various social media outlets, one person asked me if “why” is an appreciative question. I stopped what I was doing just so that I could let that question sink in. I mean, I believed it could be, depending on the context in which it is used but I was curious as to what others thought.

After pondering the question for a day or so, I posted the question on various LinkedIn groups I am connected to. The question spread like wildfire. I was honored that so many people took the time to share their thoughts and experiences. The discussions that emerged were engaging and insightful.

Most of the responses I read agreed that while “why” might not be the first choice in questions we ask our clients, it could, however, be appreciative depending on the context, tone, intention, and the level of trust between the inquirer and the client. In my work with Appreciative Inquiry, I have learned that crafting questions, so that they are both appreciative and meaningful to the client, is more of an art form than methodology. Our success as practitioners lies in our ability to recognize which type of question will work best for the situation. Many of you provided great examples of appreciative “why” questions. Some examples of appreciative “why” questions included, but were not limited to:

  • “Why do you think this works so well?”
  • “Why do we feel great when we accomplish something as a team?”
  • “Why do you think you are at your best when you do something that you enjoy?”
  • “Why was ________ a success?”
  • “Why do you feel you learned so much from this challenge?”
  • “Why it is important for you to accomplish this?”
  • “Why am I seeing so many great traits in my partner now?”
  • “Why am I feeling so much more confident now?”
  • “Why is this pursuit becoming alive for you?”

One person wrote, “When using ‘why’ to draw out the best potential in something it helps to invigorate imaginations”; another wrote, “Asking ‘Why’ can produce deeply reflective insight into the drivers for the envisioned future. It can also help define the ‘alchemy’ of what works really well.” According to the Constructionist Principle of Appreciative Inquiry, we live in a world created through our social discourse; that “our story is our perspective, and there are an infinite number of perspectives.” I believe “why” when used appropriately, can help us to peel back the subconscious layers of our mind to reveal our core values and beliefs. In my pursuit to become more mindful and appreciative, I keep a daily gratitude journal. While I ask myself the common “who, what where, when and how” questions, I am often called to reflect on the ‘why’. I find myself reflecting on questions like, “Why do I feel so good about myself now?” or “Why is it important to reflect on the positive in this situation?” The answers to questions such as these result in a change in my perspective or a positive shift in my reality. As new information becomes available, I think it may be important to draw out such answers that may only surface as a result of the use of “why” questions.

As practitioners we must remain mindful that the questions we ask are fateful. The moment we ask a question, we begin to create change. What questions are you asking? What change are you creating? Words create worlds. As one person shared, “Like everything metaphysical the harmony between thought and reality is to be found in the grammar of the language” – Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Executive Leadership Development

Leading the change from the top is essential to the success of the any organizational Culture Transformation; in fact it is essential. Culture change is possible only when senior leadership is fully on board, modeling the new culture and holding everyone accountable to new ways of being and doing. Our program for executive leaderships is customized to fit an organization or individual’s needs, goals and visions.

Designed to build Executive Leadership understanding of the practice of generative engagement in the workplace and expand their capacity to lead a strength-based organization. This program includes Executive Coaching, Leadership action plan (professional and personal), skill building through daily practice as well as networking with other Executive Leaders.

Our world is increasingly subject to failures that require systems-level and cross-systems-level thinking and approaches. The consequences of any decision can ripple with unprecedented speed across business ecosystems the way the recent economic crisis has impacted nearly every market (IBM CEO Report of 2010).

Contact us at the office at (702) 228-4699 or email Kathy at Kathy@CompanyofExperts.net today for an initial FREE consultation to discover how we can help you design a customizable Executive Leadership Development program for your organization.

Engaging in Difficult Conversations: Discussing What Matters Most

Webinar Overview:

There are certain conversations we all dread, such as delivering bad news, discussing sensitive subjects, confronting unprofessional behavior, or revealing unfavorable performance reviews. Regardless of the topic, difficult conversations occur at all levels of an organization. While it may be tempting to ignore the problems or delay the conversation, disregarding critical issues only creates additional problems and conflict – often resulting in a loss of productivity and engagement. Working in today’s competitive, fast-paced environment requires a broad foundation of leadership, communication, and people skills. The ability to engage in and facilitate difficult conversations effectively is one of the many challenges faced by many workers today.

This webinar offers a participative environment to demonstrate how practicing Appreciative Inquiry can help you solve problems, address issues, and engage in the important, crucial discussions we try so hard to avoid. Register today for this webinar and learn how to turn challenging conversations with difficult people into a foundation for improved relationships, enhanced morale, and increased productivity.

Designed For:

Individuals in all levels of an organization who wish to take a leadership role in creating and facilitating positive organizational culture and effective relationships are invited to join this webinar.

Learning Outcomes:

  • More mindful of daily conversations that create/maintain organization or community culture.
  • Reflect on the value of intentional conversation.
  • Identify what creates a culture of welcome that supports learning, innovation, and collaboration.
  • Identify types of conversations, including the important difficult conversations that are often avoided.
  • Address difficult conversations using Appreciative Inquiry and reflective practice.
  • Handle conflict and feedback in constructive and generative ways.
Duration: Approximately 1 Hour
Price: $9.99 USD (for webinar recording only)


Cheri Torres, PhD, has more than 30 years experience helping people and organizations expand their capacity for collaboration and excellence. She has worked in the public and private sectors in the US and around the world training trainers and facilitators, facilitating small and large groups, and providing professional development and organizational design consultation.

Cheri’s professional focus is grounded in the field of personal/ collaborative learning. Cheri helps people and organizations shift their workplace practices and design their systems for evolving sustainability. She believes that in today’s world, excellence is a function of learning and innovation and that these are natural outcomes for an appreciative inquiry-based, outcomes-focused organization. She partners with schools and organizations to expand their capacity for multiple ways of knowing, engagement and accountability, thinking together, and acting collaboratively. As a result people change they way they work together and how the organization is designed: a collaborative learning community evolves marked by open and positive relationships and the alignment of social and technical systems.

Congratulations to Lane Glenn, the new president of Northern Essex Community College

This is one of those warm and fuzzy stories of success that we just love to share. For those of you in higher education and/or if you have participated in our Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training, you may know Lane Glenn. Lane has been an Expert of Call and AIFT Trainer/Facilitator for years. He is one of those people that truly stands out in a crowd. He is fun, energetic, optimistic and cares about people and helping them find the best in themselves. The kind of person you know will do terrific work in whatever he does and where ever he goes.

With pleasure, we send this public congratulations to Dr. Lane Glenn as the new president of Northern Essex Community College. Lane will be serving NECC after the long tenure of a fine college president David Hartleb, who will retire this coming June.

We welcome you to sign Lane’s virtual “Congratulations Card” via the discussion threads found on the Company of Experts’ Facebook or LinkedIn pages.