ApprecHATive Inquiry strikes again!

15 11 2012

As you all know, for our project we developed a composite methodology for the CDATA workshops which combined Appreciative Inquiry with the negative black hat of Edward de Bono.  Well, we are delighted to report that because it was a huge success, another department in the University wanted to replicate our method for the purposes of their work.  Today, saw the completion of their last workshop – it went down extremely well and staff really enjoyed the technique.  Well done us!

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Workshops – done!

8 07 2012

Well, last Friday saw our final Approval in Principle (AiP) review workshop – really great work Helen, as always.  This workshop was rather different to our other sessions as it involved stakeholders from the Quality and Standards team (as opposed to staff from across the academic Schools at Brunel).  Thanks guys for an excellent couple of hours, it was a really informative morning.  It was decided that as they have so much knowledge and experience with the AiP and hence lots of ideas, they are going to have their own meeting to brainstorm all their thoughts within the next couple of weeks and then feedback all their comments to us.  The only downside of this meeting was that I didn’t know there were tea and biscuits available until I was walking out of the room at the end – massive fail!  And they were my favourite biscuits too.  It obviously must have been because I was so engrossed with all the discussions that took place that I didn’t notice 😉





Hat trick!

30 05 2012

We have had a positive achievement (out of a negative ‘hat’ metaphor) three times – hence the ‘hat trick’!  Get it?  Clever play on words eh?!  So, how you might ask?

Well, for the past couple of weeks we have delivered three Approval in Principle review workshops using the “positive” Appreciative Inquiry (AI) method to collect opinions from our stakeholders; it is a powerful and extremely successful tool which is why we decided to use it for our project.  However, from experience, combined with stakeholder comments, we decided to do a bit of ‘Mendelian crossing’ to create our very own AI hybrid approach.  Reason being, by using AI we are focusing on what is working and exploring the best of what is (which has been so useful), however, at the end of the day it is only human to have negative comments.  When staff hear us say ‘let’s hear all about what you like and what you think is working well’, they automatically get defensive and think ‘but we have negative feelings too’ and then automatically assume from here on in we are going to push things under the carpet whilst wearing a pair of rose-tinted glasses.

Therefore, cue the hat!  We decided to borrow the negative black hat from Edward De Bono and his amazing Six Thinking Hats.  So, we identified that if stakeholders ‘released’ their negative thoughts at the door, so to speak, via physically writing them down on post-it notes and sticking them to the black hat, they felt more represented.  It also made them prepared for the workshop and in a different mindset, ready to embrace AI and its positive way of thinking.

Interestingly, we strongly felt the hybrid structure of the negative black hat metaphor combined with the traditional AI mechanism worked really well.  A quick 10 minute hat activity at the start of each workshop had significantly positive consequences.  It also transpired that a lot of the so-called ‘negative’ comments were in fact what’s missing or were possible suggestions for the future, which we also looked at towards the second half of the workshop (a fundamental component of AI).  Consequently the post-it notes came in handy again!

So, the hat was somewhat useful!