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Posted 9.19.04

APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY FOUNDER SETS STAGE FOR ADVANCEMENT, TO DELIVER KEYNOTE FOR 2ND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE


CLEVELAND – When world leaders need positive reinforcements, they turn to David Cooperrider—Appreciative Inquiry (AI) founder and professor of organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management for Appreciative Inquiry (AI).

Cooperrider discovered the radical business-in-society change agent that has swept the world with tactics for businesses to provide solutions in environmental, human rights and global issues.

Since its beginnings in the 1980s at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, the AI movement has spread through various sectors of society. It is applicable for the small business venture or the Fortune 500 company. Today AI impacts the way the U.S. Navy operates, advances United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Global Compact efforts with 1,500 businesses around the world, breaks down barriers for the Dalai Lama to create dialogues among different religions and empowered the Girl Scouts to excel.

Cooperrider will share AI success stories during his keynote address, September 19, at the Second International Conference on Appreciative Inquiry, “Creating Extraordinary Organizations for Business and Society,” which runs through September 22, at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami, Fl. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Roadway Express and other award-winning companies will present testimonials, and organizational leaders from around the world will gather for a series of AI-centered workshops. The conference is presented by Appreciative Inquiry Consulting in collaboration with Benedictine University, NTL Institute of Applied Behavioral Science, Pepperdine University MSOD Program and Case’s Weatherhead School of Management.

Cooperrider discovered AI, while working on a problem-solving initiative for the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in the 1980s. . Inspired by the strengths of clinic’s physicians-management teams and their leadership abilities, Cooperrider decided to harness the power of those strengths instead of shoring up its weaknesses by tackling individual problems. AI is a process of change that goes through a “4-D” cycle of discovery, dreaming, designing and destiny. The movement has grown out of Weatherhead’s organizational development program—one of the highest ranked in the world.

The conference hosts workshops and seminars around AI’s “4-D” cycles of discover, dream, design and destiny. Among the conference speakers are:

  • Rodrigo Loures, CEO of Nutrimental Foods in Brazil
  • Bob Stiller, CEO of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
  • Jim Stanley, president of Roadway Express
  • Barbara Fredrickson, University of Michigan and recipient of the American Psychological Association’s 2000 Templeton Prize in Positive Psychology
  • Joep de Jong, director of BT Syntegra’s Division of Learning Solutions
  • Jayanti Kirplani, European director of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University
  • Amanda Trosten-Bloom, executive with Hunter Douglas Window Fashions

    “AI, originally meant to be a way of doing research, was found to be an incredible change intervention,” says Cooperrider, who travels around the world conducting AI summits. Following 9/11

    More than 650 business and organizational leaders met shortly after September 11, 2001 to find ways for businesses to make the world a better place during the first AI international Conference.

    “Today the spark that was ignited in 2001 burns more brightly than ever,” said Cooperrider. AI has become the common thread that unites Case’s university-wide business-in-society initiatives through the Case Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit. The Center is a hub of activities for businesses interested in rethinking the world economy.

    Cooperrider added that “Through the practice of AI and a focus on positive change, many extraordinary organizations are redefining their purpose, building on their successes and attaining new levels of excellence and societal contributions.”

    “No organization or nation alone can solve the difficult and complex issues that are facing human beings. The fundamental task of the 21st century is to invent new forms of human cooperation and global interaction that allow us to deal with the complex problems of our day,” explained Cooperrider.

    Defining AI


    AI uses the strengths of an organization to leverage change instead of focusing on problem solving its weaknesses. AI’s premise is that an organization grows in the direction of the questions that it repeatedly focuses on and asks itself. AI empowers companies in seven areas of excellence within an organization: purpose, principles, performance, profit, people, plant and bold possibilities, said Cooperrider.

    Cooperrider’s story


    In 1975, Cooperrider was ready to drop out of society. Discouraged and depressed as an undergraduate at Augustana College, he was encouraged by a professor to apply for a Lily Foundation grant to travel to the Far East.

    “On a visit to Hiroshima, an atomic bomb went off inside of me. There was this paradoxical feeling—it wasn’t so much of dismay but gratitude about the miracle of life on this planet that is now in our hands,” said Cooperrider.

    A question was born at that moment for Cooperrider, who was studying social psychology: “What in the social sciences will be invented and discovered that will be as powerful to human relations and society in a positive sense as the atomic bomb has become in the negative and destructive sense?”

    While the answer took a decade to germinate, the answer for Cooperrider came with the development of Appreciative Inquiry.

    Cooperrider stresses, “Appreciation has two meanings: To value something and to increase in value. Appreciative Inquiry does both.”

    For conference information, visit www.aiconference.org.

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