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.

Eyes wide . . .

July 2, 2007

An artifact of my first consulting gig is still among my treasured possessions.  The client group presented it to me on the last day. A poster, adorned with a larger than life image and a message that starts: “Learn to listen like a teddy bear, with your eyes wide open and your mouth sewn tight . . .”  Why Good Things Happen to Good People translates this into Look Again–and Look Truly and Deeply.  The message is about respect.

“requires us to look again, past first impressions and unconscious biases, to gaze deeply in order to understand another person’s history, struggles, life-journey, and perspectives.” How can you help bring more respect into our often biased, unfair world? Are there ways you can demonstrate more tolerance, civility, acceptance, and reverence for others? What is one way you can show respect to someone else today? How did you react to your respect quotient?

In a thumbs up/thumbs down world, where the value of people’s involvement the merit of their ideas are given short shrift, that’s far from the norm.  If the simple idea of pausing to reconsider, of reflecting and weighing and giving way to what’s different or unfamiliar could be a tidal change towards inclusion.  At its birth, the United States symbolically and tangibally captured the ideals of equality and tolerance.  Stephen Post confirms the way we nurture ourselves by personally living those ideals today.

Giving . . . the potent life force

July 1, 2007

Over the last few years, I’ve been thinking that “Cleveland rocks”. David Cooperrider and  the Weatherhead School AI programs, BAWB, Jack Ricchiuto, and gatherings for kindred conversations as blogged by Tim Ferris.  How murch more outrageously interesting, thoughtful and world-shaking can one community be?

 Quite a bit it seems, as Stephen Post, a Case Western ethics faculty member, has published Why Good Things Happen to Good People with Jill Neimark.  His research, a compilation of 50 studies from universites like Harvard, Yale and the University of Chicago, that explains how giving is truly far better than receiving.  In the words of the book’s reading guide:

WHY GOOD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE defies the myths that drive so many of our ideas about success and the good life. This book shows that the real secret of happiness and success lies in giving of yourself to others, and presents striking new science that shows that giving boosts both our physical and emotional health–across an entire lifetime. When we give, we reduce depression, actually live longer, and open a world of other health benefits.

I’ve decided to devote several days this week to the discussion topics in the guide – as they relate to Independence Day. There are 15 that Post and Neimark suggest.  Every one is a gift for reflection and an impetus to redirect the life choices we make on a day to day basis. 

So  . . . “Know the Four Spheres of Love” is where I’ll start.  The authors offer a landscape . . . envisioning a “geography of love,” in which there are four spheres: family, friends, community, and humanity.  Is there more we can give in each sphere?  Are we growing in our capacity to care, share, commit, sacrifice, persist or whatever it takes to support those speheres?  I was watching a PBS program today that highlighted the realities of George Washington’s service that saw us through the Revolutionary War. What stuck me most was mention that for at least half of the time he was on the battlefield living with his troops, (not in a town home with all the amenitites) his wife Martha lived under the same conditions with him. I imagine her devotion being fully lived in the Four Speheres of Love. I can hardly imagine that the wives of the British military leaders would have done the same for an engagement in England.

Fierce Appreciative Inquiry Learning

June 22, 2007

We are on the cusp of three major events in which appreciative inquiry and it’s evolution, integration and long term impact in organization development and change will be explored. 

The first gathering is the Appreciative Inquiry Colloquy: July 27-30 in Bethel Maine. The dialogue is rich and intimate with peer to peer sharing. Many thought leaders from the AI and OD community will spend the weekend together to  explore the application of Appreciative Inquiry, SOAR and AI as a managment tool. To learn more and/or register go to:

The second gathering is August 3-9 during the Academy of Management, in Philadelphia. Loretta Donovan will be arranging  dinner for the AI community .  “A number of us are already registered to attend (and present at) the Academy of Management Conference that is coming up in Philadelphia from August 3 to 9.  It would be delightful to have a dinner with the AIC members and our friends.  The 2007 Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management:  Doing Well By Doing Good  August 3-8, 2007

AOM 2007This year’s theme demonstrates how firms can be financially successful while at the same time trying to accomplish some positive social goals and make life better for their employees and the communities where they operate. This theme builds upon last year’s which linked management with the public concern, and is a logical extension of the New Vision for Management theme of the 2005 Honolulu conference.

The finale this year is the Third International AI  Conference  Power of Positive Change: Symphony of Strengths September 16-19 in Orlando Florida. David Cooperrider, Marcus Buckingham and Marty Seligman will be the keynote speakers. To learn more go to : Please use the discount code RPEI34 to register for this conference.

 I hope you will consider joining us.

Dancing in Design

June 22, 2007

Dancing in Design….. How I love design, the third D in the appreciative inquiry process. Much of the literature and case studies in AI focus on appreciative interviews , the principles of AI,  the scale of engagement(appreciative leadership, ai for teams, the ai summit) and more recent on sustainability.  The traditional4 D process of discovery, dream, design and destiny is the most  recognized framing for our work with AI.  As an  artist  and designer I love the possibilities of creating human energy in the design phase. I have experimented with Harris Owens” Open Space and Juanita Brown and David Isaacs’ World Cafe to lift communities into generative dialogues about design.  In my earlier years I utilzed the goose egg and Weisbords model for design… my practice evolves I use more emergent dialogue and tools where the stakeholders self organize.

 In my strategic work, I  am helping organizations move their vision, mission, values , goals to action. I have found the world cafe process to be a wonderful tool to take a snapshot of where the group is in implementing strategy.  The joy in watching a community reignite with energy on a strategy that was so fiercely identified in the previous phase of discovery and dream. 

As the AI facilitior,  I need to build the space and container for the group to move into generative design whether it be open space, world cafe, visual graphics or the traditional goose egg that Jane Watkins and Bernard Mohr have created. Time, energy, resources  and space are elements to consider when choreographing the dance of design.

I hope our next evolution of learning around appreciative inquiry is rich in design and destiny.