Category archive - Blog Posts

The best tech keynote I’ve ever seen: Elon Musk’s Appreciative Intelligence

I’ve watched a lot of handsomely paid CEOs get on stages for keynote presentations over the past decade, and none were as good as the one I saw Elon Musk give Thursday night in California as he…


How do you cultivate appreciative intelligence? You learn from people who see the future in the tiniest successes, progress moments, and strengths of today. For example Xerox could have been Apple. However it could not see what was precious right in front of them. Remember what Steve Jobs said in 1978 when he visited the Xerox research labs to look at what everyone else called a very flawed new computer interface. He looked at it, this ugly and very flawed display, and said something like, ““I thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen in my life…it was very flawed…still, the germ of the idea was there and within, you know ten minutes, it was obvious to me that all computers would work like this some day.”

The other night, in Hawthorne, California, Elon Musk unveiled “the missing piece” in the transition over to clean energy. The Tesla Powerwall, a large household battery (with industrial applications as well), was that piece. Read more

Einstein’s “Holy Curiosity” and 3 Ways Amazement Can Change Your Life and Leadership Ability

Warren Berger’s, A More Beautiful Question, draws a direct connection between curious inquiry and many of today’s most innovative entrepreneurs and designers. Design breakthroughs such as the Square credit card reader, Pandora internet radio, the Nest thermostat, and the business model for Airbnb all began with curious people wondering why a particular problem or human need existed—and how it might best be addressed. In today’s Silicon Valley, coming up with the right curious question can ultimately yield a payoff in the billions.


Warren Berger’s “A More Beautiful Question” and this summarizing Fast Company article is required reading for leaders in our Deep Dive program–in our senior leadership deep dive into cultivating the capacity for Appreciative Inquiry into things that work, and give life, and inspire the future.

Who knew a little curiosity could accomplish so much? Read more

Champlain College’s David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry (AI): The First Academic Center Exclusively Dedicated to Advancing the Theory and Practice of AI

Center Based at Robert P. Stiller School of Business at Champlain College


This press release was just issued today…it was an amazing day with a college that US News and World report named “the most up and coming college in America.”  Big cheers to Lindsey Godwin and Mary Grace Neville, two of our proud graduates from the PhD program in organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve University  that are now leading the way, together with their faculty colleagues and Dean Wes Balda, at Champlain College’s new center for Appreciative Inquiry. From President Don Laakman’s  opening to the dedication with the Vermont community, my family, and the faculty and students of Champlain, it was a magical day!

See on Scoop.itAmazement and Achievement: Leading By Seeing What Works

Appreciative Inquiry pioneer, professor David Cooperrider honored with academic center established in his name


I am so proud of Case Western Reserve University–the birthplace of appreciative inquiry–and I was thrilled and honored today by the Stiller School of Business at Champlain College with the dedication of the first academically based Center for Appreciative Inquiry, totally devoted to the advancement of the theory and practice AI’s life-centric approach to knowledge and collaborative design of the future.

This all came about because of a transformative gift by CEO Bob Stiller. I started working with Bob some 14 years ago, along with Judy Rodgers, in the days when Bob was leading Green Mountain Coffee Roasters into an era of phenomenal growth and becoming a leader in the sustainability movement with leadership in Fair Trade coffee, greening operations, and community citizenship. It was one of my first well researched examples of the concept of sustainable value. It was the first time the twin combination–the AI Summit and the sustainability agenda–were woven together in a way that created an amazing synergy. Read more

Business as Agent for World Benefit?

With a world providing daily reminders of what is not working, the concept behind “business as an agent of world benefit” is suggesting we should shift our attention to what IS working, what IS good and valuable, and build on those positive elements, behaviors and procedures.


Over 650 people attended our Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit and it was electric, from the talks of people such as Naveen Jain and Nobel Prize Winner Martti Ahtisaari, to CEOs of companies such as Vitamix and top corporate citizen in America Fairmount Santrol. This Huffington Post article show how inspired participants were and how this "unconference" leads not to just good talks but to collective action.  

See on Scoop.itAmazement and Achievement: Leading By Seeing What Works

Amory Lovins’ high-tech home skimps on energy but not on comfort

The house’s electricity is all renewable. Massive solar panels adorn the roof, carport, and grounds alongside the building. The panels produce far more solar power during the day than the Lovinses use, so they sell electricity to the grid during the day and buy wind energy from the grid at night. They also store the solar power in batteries so that they could be fully self-sufficient in a blackout. The batteries would run down at night but be recharged during the day. “In February 2013, there were five power failures [in the area], and we never lost power,” says Lovins.


Amory Lovin’s walks the talk when he argues that the transition to a renewable energy future is a sheer joy. Its about sustainability as enchanting enrichment.  His house’s electricity is all renewable. Massive solar panels adorn the roof, carport, and grounds alongside the building. The panels produce far more solar power during the day than the Lovinses use, so they sell electricity to the grid during the day and buy wind energy from the grid at night. They also store the solar power in batteries so that they could be fully self-sufficient in a blackout. The batteries would run down at night but be recharged during the day. “In February 2013, there were five power failures [in the area], and we never lost power,” says Lovins.

See on Scoop.itBusiness as an Agent of World Benefit

Net Positive Energy and 9 innovations to slash food loss

Using anaerobic digestion to turn food waste into energy

A firm called Feed Resource Recovery has designed and implemented a zero-waste solution for the food industry that leverages customers’ existing transportation and distribution systems to generate clean, sustainable power for onsite operations — reducing emissions and saving millions of dollars on waste-removal costs. In nature, wetlands use anaerobic digestion to purify the earth’s wastewater. Feed uses this natural process, along with technology and optimization advancements, to cleanly and efficiently convert the carbon in organic waste into a renewable natural gas. This results in zero odors, a net surplus of energy and a nutrient-rich fertilizer. Similarly, a company called Waste Management, Inc. collects food scraps from restaurants, grocery stores, hotels and food processing plants, takes them to a company facility in Carson City, Nev., and grinds them into a slurry. That liquid is taken to a Los Angeles County wastewater treatment plant, where it is mixed in with sewage — one part food waste to nine parts human waste — and processed in an anaerobic digester. This results in a biogas that can be burned as fuel.


This article highlights 9 innovations. One of my favorites creates not only less harm but net surplus of clean energy. It Uses anaerobic digestion to turn food waste into energy… Read more

‘Flourish and Prosper’ Takes Sustainability to the Next Level

This week I had the chance to attend the Third Global Forum for Businesses as an Agent of World Benefit at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.


This article by the Triple Pundit helps us see the next stage in sustainable value creation. Based on the new book by Chris Laszlo and the Fowler Center Distinguished Fellows, the conference set a new north star for the field. Here is what Siegal, the author, had to say about his experience:

“This week I had the opportunity to attend the Third Global Forum for Businesses as an Agent of World Benefit at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The theme for this year’s forum is ‘Flourish and Prosper.’ The event, which was pioneered eight years ago by David Cooperrider — best known for his work on appreciative inquiry.

As Barbara Snyder, Case Western president said, “We’ve come a long way from talking about sustainability to talking about flourishing.” That sentiment was repeated several times on this first day — that it is time to reach beyond merely sustaining, and time to stop thinking in terms of trade-offs. We need to be smart enough to include the considerations of people, profit and planet in everything we do, to synthesize these requirements into smart solutions.

There is another dimension to this, as well. The idea of flourishing, says Cooperrider, means that the energy for innovation must come from an intrinsic caring. It must acknowledge the interconnectedness of all things. Citing the Dalai Lama, when asked about corporate social responsibility (CSR), he said that ‘responsibility’ is not the right word. It’s intimacy. It’s time for a transformation that means moving away from a preoccupation with the self and focusing on the interconnectedness.”

See on Scoop.itBusiness as an Agent of World Benefit

A New U.S. Grand Strategy

Why walkable communities, sustainable economics, and multilateral
diplomacy are the future of American power.


Why Grand Strategy? Why Now?

This Foreign Policy article is the most important essay I’ve read in a very long time. How many of us believe that our country can align around a nationally unifying purpose that will reignite our economy, create long term security, and help lead the global transition to a sustainable global system?

This article is unequivocal: America can do it–once again. We’ve done it before. Yet it requires a new understanding of the discipline of grand strategy, not just as a concept but as a non-partisan way to think clearly and collectively about the future.

Drawing on the article, here is a summary of key points. Read more

Sustainability Offers Leading Manufacturers Path to ‘Flourish’ | Growth Strategies content from IndustryWeek

North America’s future in manufacturing will be fueled by innovation. Companies that can engage their workforce in sustainable, entrepreneurial endeavors can not only survive but flourish.


I was recently interviewed by Industry Week and they will be covering our Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit. Here is an excerpt from the interview…it picks up with the Fairmount Santrol story of how sustainability and the high engagement AI Design Summit–where you bring 600 or more stakeholders in the room to design sustainable value opportunities–is igniting Fairmount’s industry leading success….Here is where the article picks up:

At Fairmount Santrol (formerly Fairmount Minerals), which produces sand and sand products for oil and gas exploration and other markets, Cooperrider in 2005 conducted an Appreciative Inquiry exercise with more than 300 employees as well as external stakeholders such as customers and community leaders. Appreciative inquiry is an approach to organizational change that is based on discovering the strengths and aspirations of the organization through collaborative exercises involving large groups of stakeholders. That led to the development of Fairmount’s sustainable development ideals and guiding principles. Read more

Just in Time for LeBron: Cleveland Stages a Comeback Via Going Green

Long maligned for crime, corruption and pollution, the area is now home to luxury apartments, warehouse lofts and a new burst of optimism


Cleveland is in the national news–from the Wall Street Journal to New York Times–as a “comeback city.” Its a city on the move but the real revolution is about Cleveland’s grit (“decade of determination”) and Cleveland’s green (“building a green city on a blue lake”.)  While this Wall Street Journal headline misses the empowerment and innovation catalyzed by Mayor Jackson’s Sustainable Cleveland 2019 (a ten year series of Appreciative Inquiry Design Summits  focusing on turning social and ecological challenges into business opportunities and opportunities to empower community)–other reporters, such as Lee Chilicote, have captured much of the essence.  Lee writes:

“In recent years, Cleveland has gone from gritty to green in major ways. This is evident in the newgreen roof on the convention center, the now-annual Potluck in the Park that brings together hundreds of Clevelanders for a locally grown smorgasbord offering everything from fried greens to bok choy, and trail and green space projects.

But how green are we? Thanks to a community report and set of dashboard indicators released by Sustainable Cleveland 2019, a five-year-old initiative that aims to transform Cleveland into “a green city on a blue lake,” we now have a better idea. Some of the statistics are impressive, showing how far we’ve come in half a decade. Read more

The 2014 “Research of Enduring Impact Award”

Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management Honors David Cooperrider with the 2014 “Research of Enduring Impact Award”. Read more…

Wal-Mart partners with Wild Oats to roll back prices on organic food for everyone

See on Scoop.itBusiness as an Agent of World Benefit

(Reuters) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc wants Americans, even those on a budget, to buy more organic food.The retailer that leads U.S. stores in grocery sales said on Thursday it struck a deal to

David Cooperrider‘s insight:

Wal Mart is advancing the sustainability revolution in the best way it knows how: by lowering prices, so organics are available to everyone. “If we can make that price premium disappear, we think it (the organics movement) will grow much, much faster,” Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of grocery at Walmart U.S., said of the retailer’s small but faster-growing organic sales. How does Wal Mart build a better future for more people? By cutting out redundant steps in the process, finding new effieciencies, and lowering prices. Save money, live well is not an empty slogan and its a lesson in effective management: lead with your distinctive strengths, as you search for ways to do good and do well.

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Dynamism and Discontinuity: Eight Trends in the Business Environment that will Shape Strategy

See on Scoop.itBusiness as an Agent of World Benefit

David Cooperrider‘s insight:

It is not an exaggeration to say that a sea change has occurred with respect to sustainable value creation across a wider stakeholder domain; what used to be a peripheral set of activities has now become integral to firm strategy, supply chain operations, talent management, and more.

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