During the recent Happiness and Its Causes event, Sue Langley had the pleasure of attending the pre-conference workshop of David Cooperrider, who is well known as the ‘founder’ of Appreciative Inquiry (AI). Sue was also delighted to be invited to interview David as part of the Workplace Wellness sessions.
David Cooperrider developed AI at Case Western Reserve University in the early 1990s, primarily as a methodology to help corporations and institutions locate the energy for change and improve their competitive advantage or organisational effectiveness. It offers a genuinely new and rewarding way to tackle issues of sustainable change across a vast array of organisations and institutions—from the relatively simple to the hugely complex.
He is currently the Fairmount Minerals Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, and Faculty Director at the Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at Case. He has been instrumental in driving a positive, appreciative, solution-focused approach to change and making the world a better place.
David is a relatively quiet and unassuming gentleman who comes across in person as humble and driven at the same time, despite having been honoured with numerous awards1. Having seen David present on numerous occasions, his passion, drive and belief in the possibility of changing the world for the better is inspiring.
AI focuses on ‘growing’ change for the future from the best of the present. It works well both when there is an obvious goal and also when you just want your team or the whole organisation to work better – when you want to move from good to great. It is highly adaptable, robust and flexible.
The AI methodology teaches us that the energy for change comes from both the heart and the head. Appreciative inquiry takes the energy of the “positive present” and uses it to build a vision of a positive, desired future, grounded in reality. It then helps people mobilise forces for change to turn that vision into reality.
Appreciative inquiry is really about the art of questions – questions that pull us towards what is possible. The framework is simple, the challenge is framing the most effective questions to get the best out of your AI session. David’s goal is to shift our world focus from 80% negative to 80% positive (or at least shifting the balance). Exploring and pulling ourselves to what could be, what is possible, what matters.
During our interview, David was kind enough to highlight ways that Australia is leading the way in the positive psychology space. And if we are creating a world that is pulling towards the positive, a planet of appreciative intelligence, that is a world the Langley Group is already enjoying being a part of.
Here is what we had to say on the topic…