For-profit Business (Corporate)
Corporation for Positive Change
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) begins an adventure. The urge and call to adventure has been sounded by many people and many organizations, and it will take many more to fully explore the vast vistas that are now appearing on the horizon. But even in the first steps, what is being sensed is an exciting direction in our language and theories of change—an invitation, as some have declared, to “a positive revolution”.
The words just quoted are strong and, unfortunately, they are not ours. But the more we replay, for example, the high-wire moments of our several years of work at GTE the more we find ourselves asking the very same kinds of questions the people of GTE asked their senior executives: “Are you really ready for the momentum that is being generated? This is igniting a grassroots movement…it is creating an organization in full voice, a center stage for the positive revolutionaries!”
Tom White, President of what was then called GTE Telops (making up 80% of GTE’s 67,000 employees) replies back, with no hesitation: “Yes, and what I see in this meeting are zealots, people with a mission and passion for creating the new GTE. Count me in, I’m your number one recruit, number one zealot”. People cheer.
Enthusiasms continue, and they echo over subsequent months as lots of hard work pays off. Fourteen months later –based on significant and measurable changes in stock prices, morale survey measures, quality/customer relations, union-management relations, etc.– GTE’s whole system change initiative is given professional recognition by the American Society for Training and Development. It wins the 1997 ASTD award for best organization change program in the country. Appreciative inquiry is cited as the “backbone”.
This paper has been published in: Cooperrider, D. L., Whitney, D. (1999). Appreciative Inquiry (Holman, P., Devane, T., Eds.). San Francisco, CA: Barrett-Koehler Communications, Inc.