How We Work

All of our work—whether a single session of several hours or a multi-year engagement, whether for you as an individual leader or for you as an organization or an institution dealing with one of the great issues of our time—consists of:

  1. Working to discover the highest levels of your purpose.
  2. Revealing the way you are currently using your power to accomplish your purposes.
  3. Building into your organizing process ways to utilize more of the power that is available to you in order to achieve those higher levels of purpose.
These discoveries and changes are made very naturally as part of reflecting on and planning your current work. There is no need for separate training sessions. AIC is a natural way of evolving the way you already work to the next higher level.

All levels of our work use the the three phases of the AIC process.

  • Each phase has a distinct purpose, uses a different process and has a very different kind of outcome.
  • The three phases can be combined to create a complete organizing process that takes from three to eighteen months to complete.
  • Each phase can be treated also as a whole assignment. A phase can run from three hours to three days depending on the number of participants and the depth of inquiry. The most frequently used time frame is one and a half days.

The Value of the Appreciative Phase

Purpose of the Appreciative Phase:

  1. Opens you up to the whole field of forces that create your situation.
  2. Informs you about the emphasis you are currently giving to the various levels of purpose, ideals, values and goals evoked by your situation.
  3. Reveals the pattern of power you use in achieving those purposes.
  4. Demonstrates where you could quite naturally draw on more of the power available to you.
Typical Uses of the Appreciative Process:
  1. To create a new program or policy, e.g., to help a group or community start off on the same page
  2. As a Search Conference to explore new and very complex situations
  3. As an evaluation of a whole program with all its intended and unintended consequences
The major benefits of this phase are:
  1. A broader, more enlightened perspective on the whole situation
  2. An appreciation of each participant's actual and potential contribution
  3. A safe and creative way to explore options without fear of judgement, based on the limits of current understanding, models and structures
  4. To provide a container for the hopes and ideals of all participants that transcends their current differences and gives life, meaning and spirit to their future work together
  5. To create the trust necessary to overcome the differences of values that are the focus of the next influence phase

The Value of the Influence Phase

Purpose of the Influence Phase:

  1. Brings together your insight into the possibilities available to you and the realities you face, and reveals the competing values at play.
  2. Places those forces into a dynamic interplay that ensures you develop the most possible support and minimizes the opposition that your efforts produce.
  3. Creates the best possible resolution between the competing forces for support and opposition.
Typical Uses of the Influence Phase:
  1. Identify and work with the stakeholders affecting and affected by your actions, e.g., your project or program, your policies or change efforts.
  2. Obtain productive outcomes in conflict situations, i.e., where conflicting values threaten your progress with large issues.
  3. To serve as the central, strategic organizing process from which to build sustainable organizations
The Major Benefits of the Influence Phase:
  1. Identifies the major forces and values that contribute to your success or failure.
  2. Helps you create and maintain a balance of supporting and opposing forces between the highest level of ideals and the most practical level of goals setting.
  3. Resolves issues in a way that reduces unnecessary conflict and provides the means for dealing with unintended consequences of your efforts.
  4. Sets the parameters for forming your goals in the next control phase.

The Value of the Control Phase

Purpose of the Control Phase:

  1. Appraise the field of forces that affect the formation of your goals.
  2. Make working agreements with your stakeholders fto obtain their contribution towards your goals and your contribution to theirs.
  3. Defines the specific resources—ideas, relationships and funds—necessary to achieve your goals.
  4. Sets up a monitoring and learning process to contribute to unresolved issues from the previous phase and enlarges your appreciation of other outstanding issues.
Typical Uses of the Control Process:
  1. Detailed action planning in situations in which you have already resolved, as many as possible, value differences between you and your major stakeholders.
  2. To initiate action when your stakeholders cannot or will not participate. You learn in real time what issues of support and opposition need to be resolved.
  3. To provide an action center as a counterpoint to a policy setting effort, i.e., plan globally; act locally.
The Major Benefits of the Control Phase:
  1. Makes visible in a practical way the commitments you have to make.
  2. Show you where you have to exert influence on stakeholders you can't control.
  3. Gives you an appreciation of the effects of your actions.
  4. Gives you very practical information and ammunition to encourage greater participation by your stakeholders and to obtain more fruitful resolution of outstanding issues.