Optimistic. Bold. Transformational. These are the words people have used to describe the Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit. Patrick Cesceau the former CEO of Unilever and Honorary Chair of the first Global Forum along with C.K Prahalad described it as ”an epicenter for sustainable innovation.”
The Global Forum is an “Unconference” because it is more like a massive design studio—engaging, creative and action–oriented–than a typical convention. The Forum taps into the “whole system of strengths” and uses design tools from the world–renowned Appreciative Inquiry Summit method to enable and inspire individual, team and collective action. To be sure, the Forum offers groundbreaking workshops and amazing speakers, but what makes the Global Forum such a landmark event for many people is its mantra: “up with design.”
Upcoming 2014 Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit Read more
Tech Valley, New York: One of my great clients is National Grid and the Tech Valley or Capital Region of NY–it’s one of the fastest growing economic development regions in the country. Why did they select the “Appreciative Inquiry Design Summit” to magnify the momentum? It’s because the best in human systems comes out when (1) we go beyond systems thinking and actually do systems thinking with the whole “living system” in the room; (2) when we go beyond the negative, deficit discourse of our society and engage the AI positive change tools for elevating and magnifying strengths, solutions, and scale, and (3) when we go beyond dialogue to design-inspired action–”the best plan is the plan you do.” Click here for YouTube summary of the event http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USXLSgR6zBU . Here Cheri Warren, the Innovation Officer at National Grid, and Mike Tucker, CEO of the Council for Economic Development talk about the power of 100′s of organizations in the same room doing planning and designing together. We are making breakthroughs in the field of management. In this age of collaboration these high profile experiments with macro collaboration are precious.
Here also, in PDF form, is one of my latest articles with my colleague Michelle McQuaid. Click here for download. It’s called “The Positive Arc of Systemic Strengths” and captures five remarkable cases about recent breakthroughs in collaborative planning. In each case results are carefully documented.
The Positive Arc of Systemic Strengths explores the important question: when is it that the best in human systems comes out, especially in collective action opportunities encompassing regions and cities, extended enterprises, industries, and UN world summits? Read more
This blog post is based on my recent talk to thousands of people at TEDx United Nations Plaza on September 16th 2013. What an inspiring TEDx event!
If you are interested, simply go to the link below for a video of my talk. It was an honor to be at the United Nations with so many great leaders in the room–Secretary General Ban Kin Moon and inspiring CEOs such as Naveen Jain. My talk starts at the 1:03:10 mark of the video, of the day’s fourth session.
Imagine what would happen to you if you had the ability to see consistently, and connect with, every strength—every one of the capacities—inherent in the world around you; or to see every positive potential in your son or daughter; or, like Michelangelo, the intellectual ability to “sense” the towering, historic figure of David “already existing” in the huge slab of marble—even before the reality.
Indeed, the appreciable world—the universe of strength, value, and life-generating potential all around us—is so much larger than our normal appreciative capacity. Yet there are some—we all know them—who seem to have a special knack for seeing, noticing, and connecting with ever-expanding domains of positive potential. There are great coaches who see extraordinary things in their players, hidden strengths no one has ever seen. There are grandparents who “know” the specialties of their grandchild, intuitively it seems, long before those potentials are nurtured or even recognized by others. Could such appreciative capacity explain, for example, the success of leaders who have ranked relatively low on traditional measures of IQ but have gone on to change human history or reshape entire industries?
This blog post is a tiny excerpt from our next book, one that I am currently working on together with colleague and co-author Lindsey Godwin. In recent years, humbling to me, many people such as Parashu Ram Timalisna, Emi Makino, and Philip Merry and others have asked for more detail on the essence of my original PhD thesis on Appreciative Inquiry or “AI”—even asking if they could get their hands on a full copy–and this blog post shares ideas from that generative moment of theory building. It happened at the world renowned Cleveland Clinic. I was invited and placed onto their world-class stage by my dissertation chair and remarkable mentor Suresh Srivastva.
The study was one of those cherished high point moments in a carreer, the kind of thing every young scholar dreams about. The research demonstrated a Heisenberg “observer effect” on steroids– how just the mere act of inquiry can change the world. Radically reversing the deficit-problem analytic methods of the day, and experimenting with an appreciative eye focusing entirely on “what gives life” not only served to catalyze a huge momentum but it sparked an era of advance. The organization—over the next twelve years– entered an unprecedented phase of growth under the leadership of Dr. Bill Kiser. Frank Barrett and Ron Fry, in a book several decades later, reflected back upon that first articulation of the theory of AI and concluded that the contribution of our first article on appreciative inquiry was at “a magnitude perhaps not seen since that of Kurt Lewin’s classic article outlining action research.” In a similar fashion, Jane Watkins and Bernard Mohr in another volume celebrated the birth of “a paradigm shift” at the Cleveland Clinic. They wrote: “The momentum set the stage for David Cooperrider’s seminal dissertation, the first, and as yet, one of the best articulations of the theory and practice of Appreciative Inquiry.”
That dissertation was defended on August 19th, 1985—almost thirty years ago. But curiously, every month for the last several months, students and others have asked me about that early writing. Read more
Recently the convention industry called.
Did you know that the convention industry is a nearly $300 billion dollar industry. Convene Magazine created a headline article on what I shared. In essence I concluded that conventions are tremendously wasteful and largely unproductive for the costs involved. Think about it—you’ve attended large association meetings; global managers’ meetings; and conferences of all kinds. Just adding up the years of wisdom and knowledge of the participants, many of those conventions have thousands of years of experience in them. Yet people come away saying, “yes there were some good speeches and panels and networking; but we didn’t do anything!”
This posting is the start of new article I just drafted with Michelle McQuaid for a volume called “The Positive Psychology of Sustainability”. When companies embark on designing sustainable value initiatives there is often an eruption of good will, energy and motivation, and heightened innovation.
And all of this “good stuff” can be accelerated. How? It’s about leading via strengths.
Imagine a world of nine billion people with clean water, quality food, affordable housing and education, top-tier medical care, ubiquitous clean energy, dignified opportunity, thriving economies, and global peace and security. Now, how might we get there? In this challenge, we’re examining the role that business – one of the most powerful, transformative forces in our world – can play as a driver of innovation and greater prosperity. How can business become an agent of world benefit and shape our society, our environment and our economy in positive, sustainable ways? David Cooperrider invites you to explore one of the most exciting and important projects he has ever worked on. In partnership with IDEO (go to http://www.openideo.com) the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University is sponsoring the challenge. David shares several of the early inspirations behind the project and then invites you to collaborate and actively participate in the prototyping for a Nobel-like Prize for Business as an Agent of World Benefit. Read more
Carol White and Marcy Reed, executives from National Grid, in collaboration with all the energy companies in the state of Massachusetts, residents, customers, state policy makers, regulators, universities, vendors, as well as the Governor Deval Patrick, are pioneering in the use of the Appreciative Inquiry Summit for creating the state’s 3-year energy efficiency plan and a statewide energy savings revolution. This short video shows the collaborative power of “the whole system in the room” in a state that is ranked #1 by IEEE as the energy efficiency leader in the nation. We live in a world where the question is not just about change, but the question now is “change at the scale of the whole”–how do we move whole cities, regions, and even states TOGETHER? And how do we connect and magnify strengths across sectors, institutions, professions, and levels? Everyone knows we need new forms of national dialogue but not just for the sake of dialogue but for doing–for shaping our official plans, and doing the work of management and leadership together. Yes this was highly technical. Yes… Read more
Here is an article I recently wrote with Chris Laszlo published in The Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner, May 2012 at www.aipractitioner.com. I also just spoke about this at the Ai World Conference in Belgium. – David Cooperrider
Organizations everywhere are discovering the power and promise of design thinking and increasingly managers and management schools are turning to architects, creative artists, graphic specialists, product designers, open source communities, and performing artists as inspired models for innovation, improvisational leadership and collaborative designing. New volumes such as Managing as Designing (Boland and Collopy, 2004); Artful Making: What Managers Need to Know About How Artists Work (Austin and Devin, 2003); Discovering Design (Buchanan and Margolis, 2000) and The Design of Business (Martin, 2009) are portraying the essence of management not so much as a science of rational decisions within a known and stable world but, instead, as the art of generating artifacts and designs of a better future, rapid prototypes, feedback loops, and agile interactive pathways embedded within an increasingly uncertain and dynamic world.
An amazing conference – 650 attenders from over 40 countries! For the latest reports, blogs, videos on the 2012 World AI Conference go to http://www.2012waic.com/posts/
On April 25-28, 2012 the 5th World Conference on Appreciative Inquiry will be held in Ghent, Belgium.
The conference offers lectures, workshops, stories and dialogues where you will learn about, share and experience truly innovative examples of connectedness and innovation. From the micro to the macro level. On the micro-level we see the power of AI in tools for the elevation of strengths. On the enterprise level, methods for the combination and integration of strengths have been applied in talent and performance management systems, and in participative strategic planning processes. AI has definitely changed the way we look at leadership and change.
by David L. Cooperrrider, Weatherhead School of Management,
Case Western Reserve University
Article prepared for the Organizational Dynamics 2012
The emergence of strengths-based management may be the management innovation of our time. Nearly every organization has been introduced to its precepts—for example, the insight that a person or organization will excel only by amplifying strengths, never by simply fixing weaknesses. But in spite of impressive returns, organizations and managers have almost all stopped short of the breakthroughs that are possible.
By David L. Cooperrider
We have an unprecedented opportunity in human history to live longer and healthier than ever before. For one thing we have access, from around the world and through each of the seasons, to the richest, diverse array of nutritional foods any era might have been able to provide. And yet today, 35.7% of Americans are now obese, and 68.8% are either overweight or obese. The number one health issue in the United States is obesity and if the current trend continues, by 2048 all adults in the U.S. will be overweight or obese.