Marcus Buckingham Gets Us Focused on Strengths

September 18, 2007

Author of First Break All the Rules, and Now Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham has lots to say about how we perceive and deal with the strenghts and weakenesses we believe we possess. Here’s a question to get your interest:
 Raise your hand if you have a sibling; think of them – characteristics and traits.  Buckingham’s memory of his brother and sister was that he recognized their different strengths and weaknesses,  and how aware he was of this early in life; beyond obvious differences, were the subtle ones. He knew he was not the same as they were.

 SLIDE : Build on your strengths and manage around your weaknesses

 Proof of this principle: organizations ask him to study their best <whatever> and he discovers  there is range where there shouldn’t be range; there are great teams in not so great companies and not  so great teams in great companies; a high performing company is a collection of great teams

Some examples:

Based on local economic potential, retailer place stores; what’s going on appears to be improving overall, but when individual stores are graphed there is a scattergram of very broad range of performance;
  luxury car company believes that the quality of the dealership experience is key to success; top 10%
 factory with various shifts which commits to employee safety; top 10% of shifts on number of accidents had none; bottom 10% had 25.26 of recordable incidents

Researching this at Gallup, they found that 12 questions really got at what’s going on (are in First Break All the Rules) – most important question was “At work,do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?”

Some people are delusional about their strengths, while most others are accurate.

 SLIDE: In 2000 “Which do you think will help you be most successful?”
 People in US replied:
 41% Strengths; 59% weaknesses
We think good is the opposite of bad and study bad to get more good; our balance is all off


Cooperrider’s Opening Keynote

September 17, 2007

As David Cooperrider launched the conference, he shared his thoughts in the first session entitled Special Coming Together: The Symphony of Strengths in This Room.

The impressive results of the UN Global Compact include:


A Medley of Expectations

September 15, 2007


I am filled with anticipation. It’s been 3 years since the AI community assembled in a major way. Tomorrow I head for Orlando, FL and the 2007 Appreciative Inquiry Conference: The Power of Positive Change. There are so many aspects of the conference that are igniting my imagination:

  • The expansion of generative approaches that has inspired collaborations with disciplines and ideas which share so much with AI
  • The new stories and cases that come from many sectors and corners of the world
  • The friends and colleagues, old ones I see too infrequently and newer ones who have forged online and phone relationships – what a lovely way to finally get together

Today there was a flurry of last minute details to take care of. I’m heaving a sigh of relief now that the handouts for the session I will give with Jack Ricchiuto are printed and the slides are all fine tuned. I’ve got some bells (Tibetan) and some color and a very engaging plan for Vital Networks:Engaging the Enterprise in Sustainable, Strengths-Based Design, which we are delivering on Monday afternoon. (more about that on Monday)

Some special equipment is in my luggage too. Extra batteries are packed for my digital camera, and a new Flip Video camcorder is ready. Those will be bringing images of the conference to you on this blog. There are hundreds of people who will be at the conference, and thousands who will be with us in spirit from around the world. Roberta Peirick, who will be blogging with me, and I hope to bridge that divide for you.

Stay tuned!

Academy of Management: AI 20th Anniversary

August 13, 2007

A picture conveys a thousand words . . . I’ve never doubted the phrase. See how our AI community came together at the AOM in these candid shots. As AIC members and colleagues assembled in Philadelphia, there was a spirit of fun, excitement, engagement and sheer delight. From the AIC dinner on Sunday evening, through our presentations, and the fabulous panel of AI thought leaders celebrating the 20th Anniversary of AI at the AOM, it was not to be missed.

In a sea of 9 thousand + attendees, the AOM Conference can be daunting. We are an oasis of shared ideals, growing thought, and lived experience.

Nexus . . . of technology

March 21, 2007

Before the conference kicks off this afternoon, some of us have gathered to mess around with the technology tools and their place in the change management process.  There is such a wide range of backgrounds in the group, that it makes you wonder what we have in common.  And some creative tensions ensue.  Some of what we want to explore includes:

  • Wikis and the processes for building them as workspaces
  • An array of templates from which the methods of change could operate online
  • Collaboration support
  • New ways of addressing issues
  • Getting the attention and buy-in of the movers and shakers

The passion of the group converges on bridging the networks of high-end technology users and non-users.  Thera are differences in communication (language that we use) and competencies (tools we use and skills we use) among these populations.  At the same time, we are focused on shaping the technical background to the context and intention of the work at hand.   One consideration is the place of the technology within the flow of process . . . . before, during and after . . . and as an concurrent to F2F, between F2F, or as the sole media for collaboration and collective participation.

Shaping the Future . . . of Change

March 20, 2007

I’m packing my luggage and laptop . . . I’m off to Bowling Green, Ohio today for the Nexus For Change Conference. This really falls into the category of a bus man’s holiday. Can you imagine what will happen as the advance press explains what we are up to:

Our focus will be on leveraging the power of over 60 approaches being used to transform whole organizations and communities as they tackle 21st Century Challenges. These approaches are broadly referred to as large-group methods/interventions, whole system change, or large-scale change. What make them unique are two foundation assumptions: high involvement and a systemic approach to improvement.

Over 300 people will gather starting today, coming from the US, Canada and abroad. We all share a passion for supporting the processes (Appreciative Inquiry among them) that shift the focus and shape the future. I’ve been fascinated by the introductions posted by nearly half of those who will attend. Their backgrounds are so diverse, rich, broad and deep. They speak of hopes and dreams for our few days together. Listen to their hearts . . .

Perhaps this can be a circumstance whereby each can let go of some tension in their own balloon, little or large, so as we ease into this we may discover that there is more air for all and for the whole…

We need to make sure we include people from around the world in these discussions. Then, we can consider things like shared principles, research possibilities, the role of technology, and our contribution to the challenges facing the world today.

Who would help me build a storybook that tells the journey of “ordinary people” who have made real difference – written for executives and managers?

I’d like to begin serious conversation that includes both practitioners and academic researchers about how to conduct significant academic research on the large group methods’ research that has the capacity both to contribute to academic theorizing and to the methods themselves.

How come the ideas and methods we know work in the best educations, companies, communities and research teams are not known to every single person in the world?

My own passion has long been about opening the dialogue across the organization. That openness encompassing the various people in roles that are diverse in expertise, authority and structure, and at the same time opening the media of expression and communication to include not just verbal and written language, but the arts, technology, and science. From that flows an aspiration for the Nexus conference, that the silos that separate and distinguish the change methodologies lose their significance as we reshape our understanding of models, language and tools. It would be my dream that, like sculptors, we retain the substance of the clay as we give it new shape and life for the work.

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?”