Leave it to my good friend, Jay Cross, to hit the nail on the head regarding where the real returns on investments come from. His Internet Time Wiki posting on Metrics makes it clear: “Most of a company’s value resides in the know-how and relationships of its people. Traditional accounting assigns these intangibles a value of zero. Hence, traditional ROI has little credibility with enlightened executives.”
It is for similar reasons that I spent some time in the last year thinking about the value of interpersonal relationships that are so essential to Appreciative Inquiry. When we sit down face-to-face in the Discovery interviews of AI, there is a short distance between being strangers and having a relationship. The interview stories that rise to the surface with such excitement and depth of experience reveal know-how that is unique, powerful, and often bottom-line related.
Imagine for a moment that the person telling you the story is a hub, a center of gravity, and that she/he has ties to people who are part of the story being told. The core strengths of the AI participants have a lot to do with those ties – not their quantity, but their quality. In other words, they are forming a network with many connections and redundancies. The lines of communication and resource sharing, at the time of great achievement, are open and robust. We are at the crossroads of AI and Social Network Mapping.