This week Appreciating People are heading for the World AI conference in Ghent, along with 560 AI practitioners and researchers. We attended the last one in 2009 in Nepal and found it an amazingly rich and inspiring event, showcasing all sorts of wonderful stories about great projects and organisations. This year AI Practitioner has produced a special digital conference issue, and our work with homeless hostel residents is featured as one of the articles. Video Essays on Innovation and Appreciative Inquiry: Positive Images, Positive Action includes 13 video stories from five countries, including ours.
We’ll also be launching our new journal Food for Thought there and meeting our European friends and colleagues – over 500 of them!
The theme of this year’s conference is Towards an ‘Economy’ of Connecting Strengths: Scaling-up the generative Power of AI. It’s been more than 20 years now since David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva brought Appreciative Inquiry into organisational life, shifting our attention from organisational life as ‘a problem-to-be-solved’, to ‘a universe-of-strengths’. A decade later Gallup unveiled the results of its landmark research study amongst 1.5 million people worldwide. The research confirmed the basic AI principle: a person, an organisation or a larger system will excel only by knowing and amplifying strengths, never by fixing weaknesses.
Since then, many people and organisations around the world have shifted their attention to strengths-based practices and leadership, leading to breathtaking results and breakthroughs. The community of people applying AI at all levels of organisational and social life is growing continuously, not limited by sector or continent. AI is a true global innovation. AI is changing the way that we look at change.
Finding other ways: an economy of strengths
Nowadays there are so many challenges facing our organisations, communities, planet and humankind. How do we embed strength-based methods into everything we do across our enterprise and beyond? How do we scale-up? How can we extend strength-centred organizational cultures outward where it matters most: the places where value is created and experienced with customers, partners and communities of truly global citizens.
To meet the challenges of today, we must find other ways to grow ourselves, our organisations we work in, and our communities we live in. We should excel in the way we connect, learn, collaborate and merge our strengths. We must accelerate innovation and create sustainable value in a greening economy of rising expectations. The worldwide challenges urge us to scale-up the best of what is. They call for deep collaboration between people, between organizations, between business and society. This move can lead us into the economy of strengths, a truly global innovation.
AP director Tim Slack said: ‘It will be our second world AI conference – an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. I’m very much looking forward to finding out how people react to our journal Food for Thought, plus the chance to learn and gain deeper understanding of AI practise.’