October 26, 2006

I spent the last two days in an Action Learning session at the ODNetwork Conference. The Action Learn process felt very comfortable and effortless after practicing appreciative inquiry for six years. I was at ease holding the space for inquiry in its purest form, a basic, simple question. Our group dove into inquiry during three- one and half to two hour sessions over a two day window. I had the capacity to stay in inquiry without losing my sense of wonder or needing to move away from inquiry.

My AIC colleague, Roz Kay, encourages me to embody AI through practice if I want to make a shift in “self “as an AI consultant. I can celebrate that the “shift” has arrived. I am not sure when it showed up since this is the first time I have held the space in an inquiry for six hours. I’m confident I can use inquiry as a leader, as a consultant and/or a participant. I empathize with those who struggle with this new practice and want to quickly arrive at the driveway of action and impact. Yet I relish in the gentle curves of inquiry.

You could be questioning my association of traditional action learning with appreciative inquiry, some may wonder how I correlate this process within the umbrella of AI. In fact the question bubbled up after the third session. My immediate answer is no. The action learning process was missing the stories, the narrative component of AI.

Principles of Appreciative Inquiry

As I fly home, the question of action learning’s association with appreciative inquiry forces me to examine the two processes in relation to David Cooperriders five principles of AI:
Constructionism- our experiences are socially constructed
Simultaneity- Change happens the minute you ask the questions
Poetic- We can choose what we want to study
Anticipatory-Compelling images of the future create action
Positive –positive questions lead to positive amplification and positive affect

As a participant, I believe, we did socially construct meaning in an intense inquiry with only questions. I found that I was sense making with each and every question. After almost six hours there was this wonderful framing to work within. Simultaneity, every time someone presented a question, the system changed, our thoughts and collective knowledge shifted a little. It was ever so subtle as it is in AI. The inquiry aligned well with the Poetic principle, our inquiry allowed us to treat our topic as open books yet to be written. I struggle with the bridge to the anticipatory principle. Did our questions somehow create images of a future state ? Yes and no. Yes they created images of the future for each individual yet I question if it was a shared future. Our questions gave our conversations of questions, direction and flow in a rather popcorn fashion. I will continue to be open to a possible connection to the anticipatory principle. Social bonding was alive in our group. Once in a while a positive question presented themselves and new questions were generated from previous questions. I am just not sure if there was positive affect. It could be a great thesis question. The Action Learning inquiry was divergent in nature while an appreciative inquiry is convergent in nature.

Earlier I stated that the process was not narrative. Yet within the continuous stream of questions there is a story. A story of each person’s past, present and possible future desires embedded in their individual questions. We dove into a sidebar conversation about the role of verbal and non verbal communication. If three fourths of our communication is nonverbal then our bodies tell stories that are narrative in a primal, somatic or kinestic way.

I choose to muse about these two processes that were developed 40 years apart and try to embrace their similarities and differences with the principles and significance of my practice of AI. I encourage you to join me in this inquiry and dialogue.


BAWB: Nothing More Than Nothing

October 25, 2006

Nancy Adler takes the podium and encourages us that “global transparency lets us see the global heart.” She shares this story.

Field mouse and bird meet in the Canadian woods. The bird asks the mouse, “What is the weight of a snowflake?” “Nothing more than nothing,” the mouse replies. The bird tells of watching a gentle light snowfall, and counting the snowflakes. In a few short hours, 3, 741, 952 snowflakes fell. When the next one fell (recall that it weighed nothing more than nothing) and landed on the branch, there was a loud crash as the branch broke and fell to the ground.

It’s easy to question what one person can do. Panelists offer a new definition of hope from what they have done. The first panelist is Carolyn Woo – Dean of Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business – who addresses business as an agent of peace. Schooled by missionary nuns in Hong Kong, after an extraordinary journey of education, career in consulting, nonprofit and academia, Carolyn is an energetic and passionate speaker.

From 150 business schools around the world, 47 responded to a survey about initiatives the continuum of programs emerges:
1. Joint MBA programs in other countries with good will missions
2. Courses and curricula that focus on a specific countries with economic development programs
3. Micro finance and social entrepreneurship
4. Social programs focused on rebuilding

Schools are involving their students around the world in many countries, large and small schools, competencies for these programs grew from the 60s, the whole program design tends to be very experiential, efforts are the benefit of a more diverse business school faculty, student body, technology and travel costs being low help, the millennial generation are more engaged in volunteering and service.

Where do we need to go:
1. Start with small projects – micro finance
2. Incorporate a clearer idea of the student as an agent, as a consumer, as a citizen
3. Grow alliances: partnering to share teaching materials that are turn key; collaboration with NGOs and the business sector; watchdog groups; certification (similar to CPA, CFA) for social benefit skills.
4. Program from the vantage point of stages of learning: awarness, understanding and wisdom, engagement.

BAWB: Working on Design and Destiny

October 25, 2006

David Cooperrider starts the day. Today is the day for addressing Design and Destiny – focus on making it happen. Possibilities for actions to take have started taking shape for some people. For instance, a book series was conceived from conversation last night.

The introducer forgot his notes for introducing Brodie Boland, President, AIESEC – so he speaks from the heart. He tells of a taxi driver chided him this morning that people who attend conferences “don’t do anything”. We will respond to that challenge today. Brodie represents the youth who have something to say. He is a cutting edge thinker.

Brodie asks how many educators are present and offers to share the student perspective. Worked for last 3 years with AIESEC. Returned to campus in fall after 3 years to complete bachelors degree in business. Working on a case study about a large coffee company with management and ecological approaches that were being attacked by activists. Students were asked to find solutions. Many of them thought to discredit the activitists, increase philanthropy or ignore the changing social view of the world. The professor gave examples of companies that addressed the triple bottom line and what it meant to be a responsible manager. Students were asked to vote again, and all 30 changed their views. A good example of a tipping point. Educators have the ability to affect tipping points in classrooms all over the world. They can because:

Students want professors who bring their whole being and authenticity.
Students want the “why” from educators who are thought leaders.

The dual roles of leaders of tomorrow and the consumer of today. Asking for those who are under the age of 30 to stand, many rise. Case is thanked for scholarships to students from around the world. A video message from youth around the world tells us how they want the world to be in 10 years . . . the education that they seek, opportunities to grow large and small businesses, the promise of affordable technology to impact social progress for the third world, the anticipation of the shift in relationships of government/business/NGOs to affect the triple bottom line, a visible change in awareness of the environment. Closing text: “Thank you for building the pillars on which we stand.”

Recalling Ray Anderson had read a poem about the child of tomorrow, Bondy invites participants to write a letter expressing your commitments to such a child . . . either give it to a young person who is present at the conference or to a child in your own life.

BAWB: Imagining . . . and How to Get There

October 23, 2006

How you phrase the question will depend on where globalization goes. How will we get there is keynote speaker, CK Pralahad’s, focus.

There is evidence that poverty leads to ecological damage. Conflict and poverty are related. Poverty is about dignity. 3 to 5 billion people are underserved by the organized sector. We need to be innovative and entrepreneurial. The public sector has made significant effort within the notion of “one solution”. Civil socieity looks for social justice. Philanthropy has its own role. Business is not going to do it alone where others have failed. Giving up our idealogical stances is what will bring all of these sectors together.cell phones

Everyone should have the benefits of the global economy: be able to enjoy world class (high standards of quality) products (example, McDonalds) and services, and create platforms of opportunity for every person as a consumer and as a producer to chose the products they want and have the finances to participate as a micro-producer.

He focuses on 4 industries to show how this will happen :

Connectivity – changes the asymmetry. 3-5 billion people will be connected by PCs or cell phones. See the pictures of a young man taking vegetable orders, another selling family crafts, a tire repairman who gets customer calls. This is the power of information.

Access to money – credit, savings, micro-insurance. At the bottom of the pyramind 20 – 50x. Coin-operated, direct distribtution commerce (shampoo, aspirin, etc.) is possible. becoming locally responsive and use global standards at the same time will lead us to researchable questions about democratizing commerce. Consumption at the bottom of the pyramid leads to livelihood enhancement.
Energy – becoming locally responsive
Good health care – The delivery system in India is an example he uses since there are problems which we all understand. First, the market is large – enormous numbers of diabetes patients. Travel is needed to get medical attention so the cost of care is time and money intensive. The motivation for innovation is large volume so solutions must be scalable. Distribution must allow for local access.
Price minus profit must address the challenge cost (what the consumer can afford). He asks the audience to chose a price point. In the US cataract surgery costs $3000. The target price for cell phones in India is the cheapest per minute in the world.

The innovation sandbox asks us to think about new pricing models. Looking at prosthetics, Jaipur Foot video shows the creation of a new limb for an Indian man at the cost of $25 as compared to $12,000 for a similar item in the US. The approach is different in India for marketing, patient acquisition, pricing. But the quality of the healthcare products and services are world class. There is a method for us to use to participate in this market.leg-1

Organizing people for economic benefit is shown through the example of a milk cooperative. 6.4 million kg per day is produced daily by these women. They are co-owners.

Additional examples highlight, the marketplace ecosystem at the micro-level and its relationships with regional and global capacity building. There are 630 thousand self-help groups organized at multiple levels (village and district). Purchasing power for equipment, negotiating services, collaboration at the level needed provides bottom-up decision making and the need for new value propositions from providers. This is a velcro model. It comes together as needed.

Our forgetting curve is larger than the learning curve of those in the emerging markets. Bringing together scholarship and research, passion, humility are the requirement.

How will we answer the question: “Do these children deserve our attention?”

BAWB: Much Is At Stake

October 23, 2006

David Cooperrider kicks off the conference this largest world-wide event of its kind. Over 1000 people in total are participating in person and online. He reminds us that the work of BAWB is important because of what is at stake for socieity.

David recalls what Peter Drucker said to him just a year ago when he shared the BAWB concept:

1. management is a matter of world affairs

2. every pressing social and global issue of our time is a business opportunity

3. this is the time for management research and practice to come together for world benefit

David tells us that questions are many, the tools and implications are evolving . . . What is the “sweet spot” of sustainable value? What happens to those (schools, businesses) who don’t see it?

The inspiration for this conference came from the 2004 United Nations Global Compact. David shares a video clip featuring Kofi Anaan and participants of that event sharing their views of the compelling need for common interests among buiness, government and NGOs to drive new models.

Georg Kell, Executive Head, UN Global Compact conveys Kofi Anaan’s greetings. The UN is calling for institutional innovation and reform. The Global Compact has already made global markets more sustainable. The academic community can provide the underpinnings for change from research, can teach, can advance the agenda for this important issue.

BAWB: Getting Ready for Virtual Forum

October 23, 2006

With just minutes to the start time for the conference, Jonathan Finkelstein and Nadya Zhexembayeva greet over 50 virtual participants to the Live Auditorium for an overview of the technology. The features of Breeze and the Learning Times community site are rich and give lots of options for viewing the conference, participating with one another and getting the papers and presentations. In one minute the opening plenary will begin.


BAWB: Business & Management Address Triple Bottom Line

October 22, 2006


Starting on Monday, I will be focusing my attention on Case Western Reserve University and the BAWB Global Forum. In a series of postings, I will consider the goings on of that inspiring gathering. The organizers tell us:

Businesses increasingly realize that corporate citizenship is not a peripheral activity but rather a core element of their business strategy. Global corporate citizenship is the future of business. Business leaders and scholars who attend this Forum are not people who need to be sold on the business case. Many, however, have more questions than answers. They want to learn how corporate citizenship can be leveraged strategically in their business.

Therefore the Forum will seek to (1) answer some of those questions and (2) more importantly create learning laboratories and action groups around the questions so that follow-up work after the Forum can be done to continuously answer those questions. The main reason scholars and business practitioners are coming together in this unique Forum is to combine the strengths of each sector to create a living, learning action network. BAWB Forum Overview

Bringing together multiple focal points came into business use with Kaplan and Norton’s Balanced Scorecard. Rather than just look at the traditional bottom line, they charged companies with finding a more holistic measure of strategic business success — by adding aspects such as customer satisfaction, learning, technology, and employee performance to the metrics. In what has become know as the Triple Bottom Line, corporate responsibility extends to “People, Planet, Profit”. And so David Cooperrider has brought together his own Case Weatherhead School of Management, The Academy of Management, and The United Nations Global Compact to lead this Global Forum.

You can register for and participate in the October 23 – 25 BAWB Virtual Forum. And stay tuned here as I share my birds-eye view of the online proceedings.