Thursday, November 02, 2006

WLA 2006: Applying Appreciative Inquiry & Celebrate What's Right with the World

Applying AI
Meg Allen, Baraboo PL
Vicki Ruthe Cogswell, Beloit PL
Jeanne Foley, UW-Oshkosh Polk Library
Nathan Rybarczyk, Baraboo PL

Practical example of how it works:
Take improving meetings/sessions....
List things you like in a meeting.
List things you don't like

Clarify, shuffle, add your own issues. Put them together and present them to group, and say " Here's what we came up with. What do we all agree are most important. How shall we accomplish this?"

When some of the negatives arise, one can point out "Remember, this was one of the things we agreed we wanted change."

AI summarized & restated:
  • AI pared down to essence is engagement and dialog
  • Language we use creates our reality
  • Questions lead to intervention lead to change
AI can be applied on the small scale--grassroots
Think of what works and how to do more of it. Ask open questions and listen to answers.

How to apply grassroots AI at Circ desk?
We all have policies & procedures; however, there are exceptions....
Have tried to create an environment so that rules are bent in a consistent way. So that both patron and staff know what to expect.

Staff have ability/authority to use their own judgment. When staff not comfortable with issue, they bring patron to supervisor. This way, staff don't feel overruled & Patron usually satisfied immediately.

ex: Can't use Internet access with more than $10 fines.
Instead of just saying "no", we say "here are other places where you can get access."

ex: Word processing machines all in use, patron waiting
Offer alternative of using Google Documents

"Anyone can do an AI. Who's going to stop you from asking powerful, positive questions." David Cooperrider

Find out what patron really needs/wants -- keep asking questions/talking until you can find solution.


Upped the level of communication
more email, staff logbook, rap tune to remind student staff what to do.
"One time only" rule. Both for patrons and staff.

ex: staff person needing a radically different schedule
  • Sat down, thought: "how much more work is it to hire new person? Can I make this work?"
  • Brought it to rest of staff: "how can we make this work? Are people OK with this?"
  • Try it: "OK, we'll try for 2 months. If anyone has a problem with it, we'll talk again."
Summary: you can take AI principles and apply them anywhere, at any level.

Vicki Ruthe Cogswell-Conclusion
If you can imagine it being different, you can find ways to get there.

"Principal Effect" - the way the Principal treats staff gets reflected in student behavior.

Imagining exercise:
  • Imagine a boy on beach with dog-remember details, clothes, smells
  • Most, but not all, imagined a young kid
  • Showed reality: cartoon of Ziggy and dog
Everyone remembers differently, and imagines differently.

Vicki Ruthe Cogswell--Celebrate What's Right With the World

AI can been seen as Yet Another Change Strategy Gimmick. However, this one worked for us.

Make your staff feel welcome. Make them buy in. Make things pretty, taste good, etc ways to make staff feel good, feel appreciated.

She has some very strong personalities in Circ dept.
Repeat meeting exercise: (different suggestions this time!)
Create list, add own ideas, presented to group. Use document to say "Remember, we agreed we would change that behavior."

I asked "what if they don't agree with everything on list? How can you say 'We agreed' when we didn't?"

Answer: as a supervisor, she had to dictate that "we agreed" (even if not everyone did), to the things on the list.

We did some more exercises, then she showed a part of the film "Extraordinary Visions!" of Dewitt Jones, a National Geographic photographer.

No comments: