Author Archive

Look for What’s Right Instead of What’s Wrong

March 1, 2007

Sometimes work with a client resonates with personal experience.  That has been true of my past several months working with VIA Rail Canada, feeling that we – the consultant and the client – are on a journey together to explore how the positive approach to “what is possible?” can transform relationships.

Last fall VIA approached us with a request for us to “demonstrate our training model for coaching” and I responded “I do not have an answer when I do not know the question.” In other words, I needed to know why they felt they needed training in coaching skills.  What was the organizational issue that training was supposed to solve? 

Asking questions is powerful. After listening carefully to what their needs were, I suggested that the approach to addressing their issues might be built around “appreciative inquiry,” an organizational development philosophy first introduced in the 1990s by David Cooperrider and others. That suggestion struck a chord and from it a consulting relationship has developed in which we are working with them to identify and celebrate what is extraordinary about their organization and its commitment to customer service.