Suzanne is co-founder of Appreciating People, based in Liverpool in the UK. Suzanne and her company are doing significant and ground-breaking work in the area of social innovations using Appreciative Inquiry, positive psychology and strengths-based approaches particularly in health care, public housing, faith, and community organizations. With her partner, Tim Slack, her company is highly creative in designing and producing Appreciative Inquiry (AI) training and support materials. At the time of our conversation, Suzanne had not long returned from the most recent World AI Conference which was held in Johannesburg in South Africa. We engage in a truly generative conversation, exploring these topics and more.
Positivity Strategist host, Robyn Stratton-Berkessel and Suzanne Quinney enjoy each others’ company as they converse about the social innovations that Suzanne’s company, Appreciating People has been introducing in the Third (non-profit) Sector, especially with the National Health Service (NHS), the Housing Sector and Community Development in the UK.
Suzanne is an organizational development practitioner, specializing in Appreciative Inquiry and strengths-based approaches to change. She is an experienced facilitator and event organizer, also trained and practiced in the use of World Cafe and Open Space Technology. She designs and delivers training seminars and master classes and developing staff engagement programs for a large charity.
Transitioning to “Regular” Work
Suzanne spent nine years with Findhorn Foundation – the spiritual community, way up there in the north of Scotland organizing programs. It was during this time that she first learnt about Appreciative Inquiry.
When Suzanne left Findhorn and re-entered the more conventional working world, she realized that AI with its philosophical and spiritual principles and practices was indeed harmonious with the experiences at Findhorn and that was affirming. What excited her particularly, is that Appreciative Inquiry, with its robust academic backup and structure, provided for a much easier and rewarding transition for her than she had anticipated.
Using Appreciative Inquiry with Homeless Communities
One of Suzanne’s highpoint experiences as an AI practitioner was co-designing a program for a large homeless community – people living on the streets or in hostels. The program was a co-creation with the staff of the hostel for the homeless. After being introduced into one of the hostels, the program was rolled out to others in the Westminster district of London.
Strength-based Approaches in Social Innovations
Suzanne had a real interest in wanting to learn if strength-based approaches would support people as they transitioned from homelessness to their own independent accommodation.
Among the many highpoints of this experience was the opportunity to co-create with the amazing hostel staff. The relationships that developed still remain. The staff found the program incredibly valuable. It changed the experiences of staff and residents from the traditional ways right from the very first time they entered the hostel until they moved on.
Listen in to the show to appreciate Suzanne describing this innovative project. Staff and residents attended a two day residential workshop that was an appreciative design. Attendance was voluntary, and not everyone stayed, yet those who did stay the entire time tell a story of personal transformation.
See below to link to the video which shows truly heartfelt experiences of some of the participants in this program.
Strength-based Approaches in Facing Dementia
How to enhance the relationships between people with Dementia, their carers and other health care professionals is another field that Suzanne and her team are exploring. Her interest is to learn how focusing on strengths might support the professional staff, their carers and the patient with dementia.
Suzanne provides some specific examples of what kinds of conversations and activities might help everyone in this challenging time of personal change. Essentially, we can reframe loss and sadness by focusing on the strengths of the experiences that continue to provide support, as well as the enjoyment that is being experienced. The goal is to come up with new kinds of conversations about what the patient still experiences in the moment, and focusing on the strengths of the relationships and memories that are real.
Please listen in for some helpful suggestions.
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Appreciating the Principles of Appreciative Inquiry
We touched on many other topics in this lovely conversation including our appreciation of the all the Principles of Appreciative Inquiry – the five foundational ones and the less known, but equally powerful ones. And we shared some stories that demonstrate the real value of integrating or embodying the Principles in our thoughts, emotions and actions.
You’ll enjoy listening to Suzanne’s highpoint experiences at the World Appreciative Inquiry Conference held in July, 2015 in Johannesburg in South Africa.
By way of conclusion, you must listen to Suzanne read a rap poem, written by a participants in one of her programs. It’s about Appreciative Inquiry and its positive impact.
Links Mentioned In This Episode
- Suzanne's Website
- Suzanne's Twitter Page
- Suzanne's LinkedIn Page
- Suzanne's Facebook Page
- Suzanne's Other Social Media Page
- Work at the King George Hostel in Westminster, London: Video “Back on your Feet”
e-Books Mentioned In This Episode
- Part 1: Organisational development, appreciative inquiry and the development of Psychologically Informed Environments (PIEs) – a positive psychology approach