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Current Commentary on AI and Positive Change

Happy Birthday Appreciative Inquiry Commons

By David Cooperrider
Case Western Reserve University
October, 2001

Ken Gergen put words to the excitement I have about this web site when he said: "All that is meaningful grows from relationships; it is within this vortex that the future will be forged."

So too with this site: all that is meaningful here has and will grow from relationships, very special relationships, and it is truly within this vortex that the future of this site will be forged. As we have said in the introduction and welcome, there have, in recent years, been literally thousands of people involved in co-creating new concepts and practices for doing AI, and for bringing the spirit and methodology of AI into organizations all over the world. The velocity of the largely informal spread of the work with Appreciative Inquiry suggests a growing disenchantment with exhausted theories of change, especially those wedded to vocabularies of human deficit, and a corresponding urge to work with people, groups, and organizations in a more constructive, life affirming, strength-based and spirited way. Serving as a conduit to connect and magnify this impulse, and more specifically to create a site that connects the academic and the practical, this AI Commons is marked by one thing: a spirit of generosity. This is what relationships thrive on. This is what makes collective action miraculous. This spirit of generosity is precisely how this infant site was born. In a minute I want to thank the many generous human beings and communities that helped envision and create the "space" and electronic capacity for this place of common sharing and learning. But first a few comments on the future.

This site, right now, is in what our IT colleague Fred Collopy calls a rapid prototyping phase. Think of it like the very first musical notes played by the jazz pianist-whether high or low, beautiful or startling, it is noticed, appreciated, and "used" in a totally spontaneous and improvisational way. But soon the improvisation gives way to real music and magic. Nobody could have predicted where or how the patterns would synergize and connect. But they do-with only a small beginning and simple set of jazz structures. That is precisely what is happening here. It is clearly a humble start right now, just a few first notes. I and several others have been busy putting in everything we have-tools, papers, little stories, research summaries, power point slides, film clips, training designs, summit worksheets, quotes from the field, proposals that work, bibliographies, and links-with the assumption of not duplicating all that is showcased elsewhere but wanting to contribute to a worldwide community of comprehensive sharing. Our rapid prototyping philosophy says "lets just get started….just enough to lift it up, to inaugurate a co-creative, alive, out-of-control, commons". Our only editorial commitment, other than creating the space for sharing, is to constantly respond to your new visions for making it even better and to make comments on "best picks" for those people that want to find things quickly. This is one thing-while wanting virtually everything submitted to be available to everyone-that our early interviews indicated people did want.

The site is in major need of your contributions! And as you will see, there are useful, easy templates for "submit" opportunities in every area. Draw from this site. Take benefit from it. Call on it to ignite your own passion and "spirit of inquiry". Connect it to others. We invite you to share - your tools, stories, new models, links to other domains of positive change theory and practice, and discoveries. And in the "community" space, create any group you would like-discussions on AI questions, large group techniques, work with IT organizations, global change, and on and on. Full voice, convivial communication, rigorous inquiry, shared speculation and dreams, articulation of things that matter, improvisation-these are the ingredients that will make this site wild and alive.

Many special thanks and accolades are due: to the generous funding of the Dorney Grant of the Cleveland Foundation; to Dean Mohsen Anvari of the Weatherhead School of Management who says to all of us it is time to aim higher with our work in the world; to Fred Collopy, Roger Bielefeld, and the entire IT team of Martha Shaw, Adam Euans, Eileen Connell, and Linda Karaffa; to the leadership of Weatherhead Executive Education - Bill Laidlaw, Richard Headley, Ellen Van Oosten, and Monica Cannon (the visionary for the site); to Leslie Sekerka for her valuable input; to Judy Rodgers, the amazing relationship listener who communicated with 100s of people in the world about their hopes and visions for the site; my co-authors here at CWRU like Suresh Srivastva and Ron Fry; to all the communities that participated in this effort: hundreds of students; Appreciative Inquiry Consulting colleagues; Cap Gemini Ernst and Young; The AI Listserv at University of Utah; NTL; Taos Institute; Diana Whitney and the Corporation for Positive Change; Pepperdine University; The University of Chicago; Sol; Thin Book Publishing; Benedictine University. And finally, someone you will all get to know, the person you should contact for anything related to the site, Dawn Dole ( one of the best human beings you will ever know!

Happy Birthday Appreciative Inquiry Commons,
Love, David Cooperrider


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Aiming Higher with Appreciative Inquiry: Building on our Collaboration with the United Nations Global Compact
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David Cooperrider's Foreword to Appreciative Intelligence: Seeing the Mighty Oak in the Acorn
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High Hope in the Himalayas: A 2005 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Her Work With Appreciative Inquiry
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The United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit
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New Publications on AI: Forewards by David Cooperrider
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Business as an Agent of World Benefit - Replay video
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Peter Drucker's Advice for Us on the New AI Project: Business as an Agent of World Benefit
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The Birth of the AI Commons
October, 2001

- Sponsored by the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University -
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