About David
About David

About David

Dr. David Cooperrider's founding theoretical work in "Appreciative Inquiry" is creating a positive revolution in the leadership of change. With implications for every aspect of business, AI has experienced exponential growth as a change initiative methodology. This growth is testimony to the profound impact AI is having in business, education, healthcare, communities, non-profit and government institutions.

David speaks at large corporate and association conferences and has served as advisor to a wide variety of organizations including the Boeing Corporation, Fairmount Minerals, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, McKinsey, Parker Hannifin, Sherwin Williams, Wal-Mart, American Red Cross, American Hospital Association, Cleveland Clinic, and World Vision.

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Speaking Engagements
Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagements

David often serves as meeting speaker and leader of large group interactive conference events. Contact us to learn more about David Cooperrider's speaking engagements, with a general overview of his speaking topics and time options (speech, speech with breakout session, speech as part of full day program, 2-3 day training programs, etc.)

Creating Sustainable Value

Creating Sustainable Value

David Cooperrider and Chuck Fowler discuss the opening of the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value.

Together, the concepts of Appreciative Inquiry and Sustainable Value answer the challenge of business today: to generate wealth while strategically addressing the pressures of multiple stakeholders, increasing competition, and ever-greater resource limitations.

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Decade of Determination: Building an Economic Engine Empowering a Green City on a Blue Lake Through “AI”
Decade of Determination: Building an Economic Engine Empowering a Green City on a Blue Lake Through “AI”

Decade of Determination: Building an Economic Engine Empowering a Green City on a Blue Lake Through “AI”

This was one of the most powerful examples of the AI Summit method ever recorded–showing how the AI Summit can blend advanced economic strategy analysis with action oriented multi-stakeholder designing.

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Featured Blog Articles
Recent Blog Entries
Mar 26

What is a “Positive Institution”? 

Can global capital markets become catalysts for social change? According to investment expert Audrey Choi, individuals own almost half of all globa

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.youtube.com

What is a positive institution? In previous articles Lindsey Godwin and I have defined positive institutions, theoretically, by building upon the conceptual lens of the positive psychology of human strengths (see https://www.viacharacter.org/www/). Can we design and work with institutions not as clients but as “the change agents” to magnify our highest human strengths  outward into the world as a force for world benefit? How about designing institutions for magnifying the human character strength of wisdom into the world? Or the human strengths of courage, social intelligence, love, sense of humanity, or curiosity and love of learning? Instead of running away from big institutions shouldn’t we all be running toward them–if our goal is to build a better world in our society of organizations? Positive institutions are, as we define them, “organizations and structured practices in culture or society that serve to elevate and develop our highest human strengths, combine and magnify those strengths, and refract our highest strengths outward in world benefiting ways leading, ultimately, to a world of full-spectrum flourishing. (Cooperrider and Godwin, 2014)”  Now, for the logical stretch–how about the $290 trillion dollars in our global capital markets. Just as tankers leave big wakes in the ocean, might global capital markets, as an institution, become one of the most positive forces for good on the planet? And how might we make it so? 
Can global capital markets become the institutional catalysts for positive social elevation of human strengths? According to Morgan Stanley investment expert Audrey Choi, individuals own almost half of all global capital, giving them (us!) the power to make a difference by investing in companies that champion social values and sustainability. 
“We have more opportunity today than ever before to make choices,” she says. “So change your perspective. Invest in the change you want to see in the world.”  And watch this articulate video.   

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Feb 12

Can We Create a Flourishing World?

For tested, practical ways you can apply appreciative inquiry in your own life, in teams or across whole systems click here for a free eBook (link is external).

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.psychologytoday.com

This article is about moving from functioning to flourishing. Michelle McQuaid did an interview with me for Psychology Today, and I want to say that she is doing inspiring work with appreciative inquiry and summing up and making sense of the explosion of research in positive psychology. For tested, practical ways you can apply appreciative inquiry in your own life and for building and designing more positive institutions, in teams or across whole systems click here for a free eBook(link is external).

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Jan 10

Capital Region’s Tech Valley of New York is a Model for Ours–The Age of Collaboration

The Capital Region is known for its robust economy. It has been characterized as a technology hub, with a particular focus on biotech, life sciences and nanotechnology.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: business.ny.gov

It’s exciting to me to see so much progress on the sustainability front and the way the Appreciative Inquiry large group planning method–in our age of collaboration– can accelerate and sustain positive change. In a few minutes I will share the letter by Cheri Warren of National Grid and the vision of Mike Tucker, the President for Economic Growth for the Capital Region’s of New York economic development planning and design process. But first a primer on the Appreciative Inquiry Design Summit.


It’s so true. We are entering the collaborative age. Organizations, cities, economic regions, whole industries, and even world summits are searching for methods that bring people and institutions together across specializations, sectors, and silos in positive ways to discover common ground for action. Planning methods of the past are slow, cumbersome and falling short in our complex, multi-stakeholder environments.  But fortunately management innovations are making breakthroughs and 21st century approaches are coming of age—especially those that embrace whole systems engagement from a strengths-based and design thinking perspective.   


An Appreciative Inquiry Summit is a large group strategic planning, designing or implementation meeting that brings a whole system of 300 to 3,000 or more internal and external stakeholders together in a concentrated way to work on a task of strategic significance. Moreover, it is a powerful and task focused 2-3 day planning process where everyone is engaged as co-designers, across all relevant and resource-rich boundaries, to share leadership and take ownership for making the future of some big league opportunity successful. A United Nations CEO report, as mentioned earlier, recently called it “the best large group method in the world today.” [1]


The summit concept appears bold at first, but is based on a simple notion: when it comes to system-wide innovation and integration, there is nothing that brings out the best in human systems—faster, more consistently and more effectively—than the power of ‘the whole’.


Flowing from the tradition of strengths-based management (Cooperrider 2012), the “AI Summit” says that in a multi-stakeholder world it is not about (isolated) strengths per se, but about configurations, combinations and interfaces.  We live in a world where change is the new normal but today the question is not just how do we change for the better. The real question has shifted: its how do we change at the scale of the whole? “How do we move together as a whole 67,000-person telephone company; or a whole 1.5 million-person city; or a 250,000 children whole school system; or as a whole nation? Moreover, as we plan and design together how precisely do we do it in a ways that more quickly elevates the best in our system, and helps us move beyond dialogue to design, beyond good conversation to actual innovation, unified action, and more rapid results?”  


While at first it seems incomprehensible that large groups of hundreds of people in the room can be effective in unleashing system-wide strategies, making organizational decisions and designing rapid prototypes for collective action, this is exactly what is happening in organizations around the world. Appreciative Inquiry was introduced into the business world in 1987 by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva and soon thereafter University of Michigan’s Bob Quinn said in his book Change the World: How Ordinary People Can Achieve Extraordinary Results “Appreciative Inquiry is revolutionizing the field of organization development and change.”


AI provides the tools and methods for elevating system-wide strengths, for creating new combinations and concentration effects of strengths, and ultimately spreading and deploying those strengths in the service of a more positive and valued future.  Its based on a leadership principle proposed by the Peter Drucker many years ago: “The great task of leadership” said Drucker, “is to create an alignment of strengths in ways that make a system’s weaknesses irrelevant.”  


That’s what the word appreciation means. It means valuing those things of value. It also means, “to increase in value.”  And that’s how innovation happens, through the elevation, magnification and cross-multiplication of solutions and discovering together what works, what’s better, and what’s possible. Today AI’s approach to strengths-inspired, instead of problematizing change, is supplanting many of the traditional change management models in the business and society. Appreciative inquiry is being practiced everywhere: the corporate world, the world of public service, of economics, of education, of faith, of philanthropy—it is affecting them all.


How do you do it?  In actuality it is very simple—think of three phases—the pre-summit phase, the summit, and the post summit. Once a trusted and capable convener or convening alliance is assembled a steering/design team goes through a 1-2 day design session where everything big picture for the summit is designed—the stakeholder mix; the articulation of the summit task; plans for pre-summit momentum and research; and the agenda framework—then the summit workbook and design is homegrown. The summit itself is almost the easiest element in the whole process; in our experience the steering committee meeting the key moment. And from the completion or date of the steering committee meeting, the typical summit usually takes place in 3-6 months.


The AI Summit impacts are fast, efficient (bypassing hundreds of small group committee meetings) and ultimately powerful, productive, and inspiring. Leaders—for example the head of the United States Navy and the Secretary General of the United Nations, as well as big city Mayors and CEOs of some the largest corporations in the world—commonly are moved by how quickly the best and most positive in their systems comes out. They applaud the speed, the substantive deliberation, and acceleration that can happen. Following an AI Summit they often ask:  “What was all the fuss about?” And “how did we manage to get so many good people into this summit?” In other words, the AI Summit—especially when implemented with its six success factors (see attached journal articles)—consistently brings out the best in human systems. [2] 


[1] The Global Compact Leaders Summit Report (UN 2004) documents the impact of Appreciative Inquiry at the United Nations world summit between Kofi Annan and CEOs from 500 corporations including Hewlett-Packard, Starbucks, Tata, Royal Dutch Shell, Novartis, Microsoft, IBM, and Coca Cola. For the full report go to: http://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/news_events/8.1/summit_rep_fin.pdf. In the report CEO Rodrigo Loures concludes “Appreciative Inquiry is the best large group method in the world today.”

[2] Cooperrider, D. 2012. The Concentration Effect of Strengths, Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 42, No. 2, April-May 2012, p. 21-32.


Cooperrider, DL., and McQuaid, M. (2012) The Positive Arc of Systemic Strengths. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Vol. 46, Summer 2012.


So now to the Capital Region of New York story. What a success story! Here is what Cheri Warren of National Grid and the vision of Mike Tucker, the President for Economic Growth for the Capital Region’s of New York economic development planning and design process said before their first large scale AI Summit in 2013: 


"On behalf of the Center for Economic Growth and National Grid, we would like to welcome you to the Regional Infrastructure Forum. This two day forum Tech Valley and Beyond: Growing Sustainable Infrastructure at the Speed of Life is being help on October 30th & 31st at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center in Albany and it will help all of us in the region achieve our hard infrastructure ambitions. 


This process is strongly complementary to the Regional Economic Development Council process and is similarly inclusive in convening a broad group of relevant stakeholders. It represents a promising strategy supporting a key goal of our region’s Strategic Plan to "Build a Superhighway: Ensure that a 21st Century infrastructure exists so the Capital Region will become the first destination for business in New York State and be accessible to build, grow, and expand business.”  The Capital Region Economic Development Council and its Infrastructure sub-workgroup has identified the large group Appreciative Inquiry Summit process as a catalyst for the development and execution of a transformational infrastructure plan for our region.


By leveraging the strengths and assets of all stakeholders, the AI Summit is based on a simple notion: when it comes to system-wide innovation and integration, there is nothing that brings out the best in human systems—faster, more consistently and more effectively—than the power of “the whole.” A guiding principle will be: act regionally when planning for the future of Tech Valley, and honor locally by being inclusive of all stakeholders in the eleven county region.


 We invite you to participate fully in this collaboration. Our aim is clear: for our region to excel we must advance our collective future together, leverage the opportunities, investments, and vast potentials already at our door, and establish a process so the right infrastructure can be planned where it’s needed, at the right time and at the right cost.


Mike Tucker President, Center for Economic Growth &

Cheri Warren, CIO National Grid

Thanks Cheri and Mike. Your belief in inclusive planning environments is not only paying off but is a model of building collaboration, trust, and unleashing the innovation of the universe of strengths.  


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Nov 22

Exhilarate 2016: Canadian Positive Psychology Association Announces the 3rd Annual Conference

The 3rd Canadian Conference on Positive Psychology

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.eiseverywhere.com


The Canadian Positive Psychology Association’s 2016 Conference has been announced with Keynotes, and calls for papers and workshops. The conference, in Niagara Falls, is in June. I’m excited by the momentum and honored to be speaking on the idea of the Ai shift from “conscious evolution” to “conscious co-elevation”…   along with Barbara Fredrickson, Kim Cameron, Lea Waters, Caroline Adams Miller, Ryan Niemiec, Shannon Polly and others. Lots of inspiring people, workshops, and organizations–thanks Sajel Rogers for your leadership!


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Nov 7

Be Curious. Teach Curious.

To some it may seem strange to be advocating curiosity when everyone else is suggesting we all learn coding,

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.aceweekly.com

This law teacher is advocating that we educate for curiosity and not coding. She draws lessons from her relentless four year old: “These days my four year old is like those pitching machines used to help improve batting, but instead of balls, it is a fast pace bombardment of why, how, when, and the worst one of all, but you said. Everything to him is novel and potentially engrossing and amazing.

A curious mind is flexible. It takes risks, but nothing for granted.  If the recent economic downturn has taught us anything, it is has taught us that the future will require a broad set of skills to be successful and the composition of those skills will alter and necessitate updating at a more frequent pace than in the past. Business leaders taught the importance of innovations. I think we should take one step back. Curiosity is the precursor to innovation. The continual desire to know and to learn helps to prevent obsolescence.

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Nov 3

AIM2FLOURISH by Roberta Baskin

Epiphany is defined as a “sudden and striking realization.” But it doesn’t work that way with me. My epiphanies sometimes simmer gently for years, particularly one that emerged in the aftermath of a class I took on Appreciative Inquiry, taught by its guru, Professor David Cooperrider. Because I was a journalist long outraged by the corporate malfeasance I exposed as a network correspondent, David invited me to learn about asking questions from a new perspective. This caused me to shift my view. But I was a journalist, after all, and stubborn. The process was a slow conversion, indeed.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.kosmosjournal.org

Robert Baskin, a former 20-20 reporter and award winning journalist, is showing the way to a new kind of journalism that is mindful and focused not just on bad news, but stories of images and voices of hope. She discusses, in her recent article, how we’re living in a time where all around us there’s a global shift in consciousness toward optimism. The world is wearying of the worn-out narrative thread about everything that is wrong. There’s an energy coalescing around a solution-driven, energetic, we’re-in-this-together framework. You can find it popping up in online news sites that are devoted to good news. In a sign of the times, the Huffington Post started a section called Good News,1 as well as an even newer one called Impact: What’s Working.2 One of the earliest adopters, the Good News Network3 is all about providing good news to its one and a half million unique visitors a month. The Solutions Journalism Network4 is a project co-founded by two New York Times columnists who are training newsrooms to do solutions-driven reporting about social problems. Roberta and the whole team from the Weatherhead School of Management–from the Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit–have added to this movement with an amazing website called www.AIM2Flourish.com ….check it out.  And participate. If you could spotlight any organization that is innovating in some way to create full spectrum flourishing–innovations that are not doing just less harm but radically creating net-positive good for the world and the business–what innovation would you want to spotlight? On the website simply add your spotlight to the section called “sightings” and soon young people and others interested in advancing “business as an agent of world benefit” will pick up the sighting and will do more extensive interviews.

As the great Joseph Campbell once remarked about cultural transformation: “awe is what moves us forward.”

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Nov 3

The Purpose-Driven Workforce Is 42 Million Strong and Growing

The report argues that purpose-oriented employees do better work, have higher well-being, stay in their jobs for longer and are better ambassadors for their employers. Organizations should therefore look to identify purposeful people and promote and retain them.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.fastcoexist.com

Increasingly we are speaking about the purpose-driven economy–and companies that "do good and do well" as a matter of industry leadership, inspired innovation, high engagement of people, and everyday operations. Now a new report raises an interesting question. How many purpose driven individuals are there in the typical workforce? The  new report puts numbers to the motives driving our daily toil. Twenty-eight percent of the U.S. workforce—42 million out of 150 million people—is purpose-oriented, while the rest, suggests the report, they’re just going to work every day.  With the help of NYU professors, this imperative report offers a baseline. Soon we will be able to track the growth in the purpose driven workforce. Why is this important? The report argues that purpose-oriented employees do better work, have higher well-being, stay in their jobs for longer and are better ambassadors for their organizations. 

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Sep 28

We The People for The Global Goals: Bill Gates and Stars from Around the World are Turning a Worldwide Urge into a Global Plan

A new plan for people and planet has just launched – the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Tell everyone! add your very own intro to this star-stu…

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.youtube.com

Imagine the world a 30 years from now and consider the following scenario for the economy:

It’s a bright-green restorative economy that purifies the air we breathe; it has eliminated the concept of waste and toxic byproduct; extreme poverty has been eradicated from the planet; the economy is powered by 100% renewable, abundant energy and is saving the decarbonized world trillions in lower costs; it is a world of freer and truer markets with signals that generate positive incentives aligned with the long-term greater good (thus, it has virtually eliminated “perverse incentives”); the economy’s industry-leading stars are celebrated as creators of sustainable value where the word “sustainability-as-less-bad” has been replaced with the “sustainability-as-flourishing” net positive; what we see when we look around are resilient, bright green, and walkable cities, re-generative agricultural practices, and astonishing exponential technologies for advancing health and collaborative connections; and all of this is built on an economy of  institutions that are widely trusted as positive institutions—workplaces that elevate, magnify, and refract our highest human strengths (wisdom, courage, humanity, compassion, inspiration, collaborative creativity, freedom, hope, joy, learning, integrity, love and meaning) into the world. We’ve built the bridge from an unsustainable industrial age to a future that embraces the idea of full-sprectrum flourishing. We have re-designed the entire material basis of our civilization—successfully.

This, in a nutshell, was the essence of the 2050 and beyond vision of the desired future of an inclusive economy where people thrive, businesses win, and nature flourishes as articulated by executives, researchers, and MBA students coming together at an international meeting we facilitated, at the First Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit, in 2006.  Moreover we’ve discovered that this vision is not isolated, as we have repeated the exercise with thousands of executives and communities, from the UN Global Compact to the Business Alliance for the Future.  Nor is it utopian, as it reflects an unprecedented worldwide urge for positive change, an increasingly shared vision, uncoordinated but blooming, with dazzling examples emerging everywhere. Paul Hawken describes it all as a “blessed unrest”—millions of people and organizations spontaneously bringing about what may one day be recognized as the most profound transformation of human society.

This September 2015 this vision, this urge, has now taken form as a plan for the people and planet. It’s the result of much deliberation, analysis, and dialogue–it’s as universal as it gets, and it speaks to partnership and the collaborative advantage. The speakers here span business (Bill Gates) to stars of all kinds.

share it with the world:http://wethepeople.globalgoals.org

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Sep 8

This 16th century French castle is the temporary home to 100 makers trying to save the planet

“We need to move from protest to prototype,” said Daniel Kruse of Open State. “We were looking at all these climate summits, and people just talk and talk. So we thought we would try a different strategy by working with makers, with people who do stuff instead of just talking about stuff.”

Sourced through Scoop.it from: venturebeat.com

This is a community of entrepreneur—out to change world history. The goal of the Proof of Concept 21 innovation camp, or POC21, is to “prototype the fossil free, zero waste society.” The organizers have selected 12 teams who will live at the Château de Millemont and work together to develop their projects, which range from low-cost wind turbines to a shower that recycles its own water.

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Sep 2

Mirror Flourishing and the Design of Positive Institutions

Mirror Flourishing: Appreciative Inquiry and the Designing of Positive Institutions – David Cooperrider, PhD.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.youtube.com

It was a real honor for me to keynote day-two of the World Conference in Positive Psychology. With lot of stories from the field I shared my big hope for the world, and shared the power of questions in leadership–how we become what we study and how we live in worlds our questions create. Here is the link to the talk:


I especially loved sharing stories–stories of our work and research with companies such as Apple, Keurig Green Mountain Coffee, Google, Tesla, the UN and nonprofits such as the URI. And I shared about the Ai tools for the discovery and design of positive institutions. Building on my next book with great colleague Lindsey Godwin, I explored the idea positive institutions:

“Positive institutions are organizations and structured patterns in culture or society that serve to elevate and develop our highest human strengths, combine and magnify those strengths, and refract our highest strengths outward in world benefiting ways leading, ultimately, to a world of full-spectrum flourishing.”

But be forewarned. My assignment was to talk for an entire hour! So if you want only the conclusions, simply fast-forward to the the last couple of minutes which focuses on our latest work called Business as an Agent of World Benefit.

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Jun 29

World Appreciative Inquiry Conference 2015

Building Flourishing Societies Together: Elevating, Aligning and Reflecting our Best to Create a Prosperous World for All
2015 World Appreciative Inquiry Conference

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I am thrilled to announce the 2015 World Appreciative Inquiry Conference, from July 6-10, in the beautiful city of Johannesburg, South Africa. The World AI Conference has been previously convened in the U.S., Nepal, and Belgium. In 2015, I look forward to us gathering together in South Africa – a country of transformation and inspiration – where we can join as a community of practitioners and scholars to learn from each other and advance the field of strength-based work. With this setting serving as our inspiration, we will explore the cutting edge work being done around the world in Appreciative Inquiry and other strength-based methodologies so that we can take the positive revolution for change to the next level together!

I look forward to seeing you there!

I thank you in advance for your help to make sure we share great work with the whole world.


David Cooperrider, Ph.D.
Fairmount | David L. Cooperrider Professor of Appreciative Inquiry
Weatherhead School of Management
Case Western Reserve University
Honorary Chair for the 2015 World AI Conference, South Africa

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.2015waic.com

Message from Conference Co-Chairs:
Anastasia Bukashe and Freddie CrousDear Colleagues and Friends

“The growth and application of Appreciative Inquiry… has been nothing short of phenomenal. It is arguably the most powerful process of positive organizational change ever devised.”
~ Ken Gergen

Nearly three decades ago David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva’s  ground-breaking article, “Appreciative Inquiry into Organizational Life” forever changed the way we look at leadership and change.

It shifted our attention from the world of organizational life as “a problem-to-be-solved” to the world as an innovation, spawning a “universe-of-strengths.”

A decade later Gallup unveiled the results of its landmark research study with 1.5 million people worldwide and confirmed the basic principle: that a person, organization or larger system, will excel only by knowing and amplifying strengths, never by fixing weaknesses.

Since then, millions of people in every sector of society around the world have shifted their attention to strengths-based leadership, and many are now asking, “What’s next?” “How, exactly, do we take the strengths mind-set beyond the  important  talent and  performance  management application—focused mainly on the individual or small groups—to embed strength-based methods into everything we do across our enterprise and beyond?” “How do we forge strength-centered organizational cultures and create strength-accelerating networks where collaborative partnerships result in transformative innovations for a better world?”

The answer to these questions is now starting to become clear: we must create strength-based organizations at every level of society…organizations, including groups, families, and communities, explicitly designed and managed for the elevation of strengths, the combination and magnification of strengths, and ultimately, the amplified reflection of our highest human strengths outward into the world.

Every three years the World Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Conference moves members of the AI community from across the globe to come together and share in conversations. So, once again, we invite you to join us at our upcoming conference, set to take place for the first time on African soil. Building on the words of Gillian Tett, social anthropologist and US managing editor of the Financial Times, this event has as its aim to fulfil our desire to belong to the AI ‘tribe’, thus allowing us to affirm our network and identity, forge bonds and express our shared values.

That is what the WAIC 2015: South Africa is all about– exploring the ways that we can build exceptional partnerships across the globe to help create strength-based organizations that build a flourishing and prosperous world for all. We thank you in advance for your interest and effort to help us make this global gathering a unique event in the history of AI.

On behalf of the organizing committee, international advisory board, and all conference partners,   Anastasia Bukashe,
Conference Co-Chair Freddie Crous
Conference Co-Chair

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We are happy to offer you a complimentary download of the Leadership Excellence Magazine.

Leadership Excellence is a leading monthly digest offering the world’s best value-centered, principle-based ideas and strategies for organizational and executive development. Each month, 16 to 20 of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners share their cutting edge management ideas and strategies in digest format. We are delighted to let you know that David Cooperrider, Professor and Author of AI, is featured on this month’s front cover which also includes two articles by David — Three Circles and Innovation’s New Frontier. Learn more...