Appreciative Intelligence: Seeing the Mighty Oak in the Acorn

Views: 1195
Ratings: (0)

Appreciative Intelligence provides a new answer to what enables successful people to dream up their extraordinary and innovative ideas; why employees, partners, colleagues, investors, and other stakeholders join them on the path to their goals, and how they achieve these goals despite obstacles and challenges. It is not simple optimism. People with appreciative intelligence are realistic and action oriented--they have the ability not just to identify positive potential, but to devise a course of action to take advantage of it. Drawing on their own original research and recent discoveries in psychology and cognitive neuroscience, Thatchenkery and Metzker outline the evidence for appreciative intelligence, detail its specific characteristics, and show how you can develop this skill and use it in your own life and work. They show how the most successful leaders are able to spread appreciative intelligence throughout an organization, and they offer tools and exercises you can use to increase your own level of appreciative intelligence and so become more creative, resilient, successful, and personally fulfilled.

List price: $25.95

Your Price: $19.46

You Save: 25%

 

11 Slices

Format Buy Remix

Chapter 1: Appreciative Intelligence: The Missing Link

ePub

A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.

—William Blake (1790)

When the Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990, the general public, as well as scientists in the aerospace field, held high hopes. The world waited expectantly for discoveries and answers to riddles of the universe that would be revealed by the telescope’s views of space.

But blurry images caused by a flawed mirror sent those hopes crashing down to earth. Congress demanded an explanation for the failure. The project and its creators became the butt of late-night television jokes. Stress was high among NASA engineers, as were health problems.

“It was traumatic,” said Charlie Pellerin, the former director of NASA’s astrophysics division, who oversaw the launch of the Hubble. Nobody could see how to fix the problem, which many seemed afraid even to address.

Well, nobody except Pellerin. He not only had the initial insight to solve the problem but also found the funding and the resources to repair the telescope, for which he received NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal. The ultimate reward was that over the next decade, the telescope provided spectacular images and important discoveries of stars, galaxies, and other cosmic phenomena.

 

Chapter 2: Leveraging Appreciative Intelligence

ePub

The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but seeing with new eyes.
—Marcel Proust (1871–1922)

When people see the mighty oak in the acorn, they can change the future. They find innovative solutions. They bring out the best in people. They invent new products. Often, they and their successful ventures become magnets for other people. In our interviews with organizational leaders and innovators, we found that the ability to reframe, appreciate the positive, and see how the future unfolds from the present consistently led to the four qualities shown in Figure 2.1:

Because the people we interviewed could reframe, appreciate the positive, and see how the future could unfold from the present, they could see how their end goal was possible to accomplish. Thus, they were willing to persist and to believe that their own actions and abilities would take them to a successful conclusion. Because they could envision the way a positive future could unfold from the present, they could deal with the uncertainty that often accompanies a new venture, product development, or a crisis. They exhibited irrepressible resilience, the ability to bounce 16back from a difficult situation, as the result of reframing, seeing what was positive in the situation, and understanding that a better future could come about despite a crisis or setback.

 

Chapter 3: Appreciative Intelligence in Action

ePub

The ultimate function of a prophecy is not to tell the future, but to make it. 1
—W. Warren Wagar

In the thick of our research and writing, a unique example of an organization “walking the talk” about Appreciative Intelligence emerged. It brilliantly exemplified the three components of Appreciative Intelligence and the four qualities that stem from it, and it highlighted the results of Appreciative Intelligence in action. It underscored the power of leaders with high Appreciative Intelligence to make a positive difference and change the future by applying Appreciative Intelligence to work with a younger generation.

Carol, one of the authors, walked into Delaware Valley Friends School (DVFS), an innovative college-preparatory school in the suburbs of Philadelphia for students who have learning differences. As she watched students make homemade pasta in a cooking class, study for a science exam, and talk with a teacher about geometric figures, it was difficult to comprehend that most of the teens she observed had floundered academically and personally at previous schools.

 

Chapter 4: Reframing Reality for a Great View

ePub

Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.

—Albert Szent-Gyorgi (1893–1986)

Every day, every situation, and every encounter is a crossroad. As though the present were a landscape, we make decisions consciously or unconsciously each moment to move forward, turn to the right or left, ignore some possibilities, and partake in others. We make these decisions based on the way we perceive reality or how we interpret and evaluate the stimuli in our environment. Some decisions are made deliberately, with careful thought over a period of several seconds, minutes, or even weeks. Others are made nearly instantly, and we may not even be aware they have occurred. This chapter sheds light on some of the mysterious quirks of perception and insight. We provide more detail about reframing, the first component of Appreciative Intelligence. We also talk about what Appreciative Intelligence is not.

Sometimes it is possible to spot differences in individuals’ perception of reality based on their reactions to certain stimuli. For example, one afternoon a man and his daughter and young granddaughter discovered a huge spider in a web that stretched from an eight-foot-high tree branch 52to the ground. The man, a retired scientist, approached the situation with technical interest and expounded on the characteristics and benefits of orb weaver spiders. His daughter recoiled in surprise. His granddaughter looked closely at the spider with curiosity, reacted as though she had met a new playmate, and gave the spider a name. The individuals’ behaviors— talking, stepping back, or looking closer—reflected different perceptions of the same stimulus—the spider. Their perceptions and ensuing actions were based on their underlying attitudes, conditioning, experience, and expertise.

 

Chapter 5: Appreciating the Positive

ePub

Leaders have an intuitive sense that things will work out for the best. I do not see the dark side.
—Howard Schultz, Chairman and founder of Starbucks1

The second component of Appreciative Intelligence is appreciating the positive. Beyond envisioning the future oak tree, those with high levels of Appreciative Intelligence see acorns that become large, healthy oaks with future generations of acorns and trees. Through reframing, leaders and entrepreneurs see and select aspects of the present that are useful, valuable, or desirable. They focus on positive attributes of a current situation that can generate a successful future.

Appreciation has its skeptics and critics as well as its advocates. Like a medical doctor who diagnoses what is sick in a patient in order to determine treatment, many organizational change professionals seek deficiencies in a business or organization to set a course of action.2 The “Pollyanna” figure, or one who cheerfully looks for the best, is sometimes viewed as one who is unrealistic, naïve, or overly happy. “Real” work is sometimes synonymous with seeking what is wrong or broken in order to bring it back to a steady state. Individuals and organizations are assumed by some people to be full of problems that should be fixed in order to see improvement.

 

Chapter 6: Seeing How the Future Unfolds from the Present

ePub

“The Ancient Greeks,” I say, “. . . listened to the wind and predicted the future from that.” DeWeese squints. “How could they tell the future from the wind?”
“I don’t know, maybe the same way a painter can tell the future of his painting by staring at the canvas.”
—Robert M. Pirsig,
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

What if, however unlikely, Rotarians reframed the challenge of polio eradication as an organizational challenge but didn’t perceive that the leadership skills, business expertise, and resources of their fellow Rotary members could be applied to it? Or what if Bill Gore reframed Gore-Tex as a valuable new kind of dental floss, but no one could see how to get the product to consumers? Polio might still be epidemic in parts of the world, and Glide-Floss might not exist except on the end of Bill Gore’s toothbrush. Appreciative Intelligence would not have been at work in these situations, because the third component—seeing how the future unfolds from the present—was missing.

 

Chapter 7: Appreciative Intelligence at Work

ePub

None of us is as smart as all of us.
Japanese proverb

Talk to any member of a FIRST team the day before the goals and rules of a new robotics competition are announced and the corresponding box of robot parts and game pieces arrive, and you’ll catch a contagious feeling of intense anticipation and excitement. Like the starting gun at a track event, receiving the rules and the kit of parts signals the beginning of a thrilling six-week race against time, resources, and budget constraints. Every day counts as teams of high school students and their mentors design and build a complicated robot that fits specified criteria and accomplishes feats like scooping up a ball, stacking objects, climbing steps, or hanging from a chin-up bar. What happens, however, if one team’s parts kit doesn’t arrive at the start of the game?

That was a challenge that students of Westtown School’s FIRST Team 1391 faced during the competition of 2004. Because of snowstorms and icy road conditions in southeastern Pennsylvania shortly after the competition kick-off, a shipment of metal extrusions—parts to build the robot’s frame—didn’t arrive when expected. A competing team learned of the predicament and loaned the Westtown team enough material to get started. Days later, when the delayed package finally arrived, the students replaced their competitor-turned-ally’s parts with their own.

 

Chapter 8: Developing Your Appreciative Intelligence

ePub

Genius is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration.
—Thomas Edison

Some leaders and innovators seem to be born with high Appreciative Intelligence. Many people we interviewed perceived the positive inherent general potential in the present early on in their lives. They seemed to reframe, appreciate the positive, and see how the future unfolds from the present effortlessly. They exhibited the ensuing qualities of Appreciative Intelligence—persistence, conviction that their actions matter, tolerance for uncertainty, and irrepressible resilience—and reaped the benefits of invention, innovation, creativity, and success at a young age.

Ed Hoffman, who reframed the program that addressed the Challenger tragedy as the beginnings of a larger initiative to cultivate NASA’s leadership skills, showed evidence of the ability to frame situations positively and uniquely as a child. “I grew up in Brooklyn,” he said, “an interesting place.” In an area where being at the wrong place at the wrong time could have serious ramifications or a seemingly simple conflict had the potential to escalate, “I’d deal with the possibility of getting beaten up or something scary.” Many times, he reframed a confrontation as something positive, a moment for humor, rather than aggression. He saw how to realize an outcome that had more helpful results for all involved, not just for kids who were smaller and physically less capable—those without “muscular forte,”1 Hoffman related.

 

Chapter 9: The Case for Appreciative Intelligence

ePub

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.
—Buddha 1

For some readers the introduction of new concepts, including the specific new construct of Appreciative Intelligence, will be accommodated or assimilated into knowledge or belief systems with a degree of ease. For others, the ideas presented in this book may generate discomfort or skepticism because they do not readily fit within the readers’ worldview based on their experiences or understanding. Chapters 9 and 10 are for readers who want more information to resolve ambiguity or skepticism, those who come from various fields of the social sciences and want further explanations, and those who are curious about the case behind Appreciative Intelligence. This chapter and the next one provide more information for people who want to know more about how the construct of Appreciative Intelligence came about, why we believe it is another type of intelligence, and what the field of social cognitive neuroscience can provide to help explain the mental processes we discuss in this book. For those of you who prefer to focus on the practical application of Appreciative Intelligence, skip ahead to Chapter 11. For others of you, read on.

 

Chapter 10: The Brains Behind Appreciative Intelligence

ePub

If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn’t.

—Emerson M. Pugh 1

Appreciative Intelligence is a mental ability that affects how the world is perceived and, in turn, deliberately thought about and acted upon. Although it’s difficult to demonstrate fully how our minds work and to determine whether a mental process is conscious or unconscious, whether it is innate or developed, or whether it is a characteristic, a mindset, an attitude, or a trait, researchers in the past decade have made strides in the areas of brain functioning and psychology. New diagnostic imaging techniques provide fresh insights about the links among the brain, attitudes, emotions, intelligence, and behaviors. To explain the existence of Appreciative Intelligence and show evidence for specific parts of the brain as responsible for the mental processes that constitute its components, we turn to other researchers’ brain studies, or research in the social cognitive neuroscience field. To help readers make sense of the studies we cite and to provide a context for talking about specific brain areas and functions, we begin with some basic information about the human brain.

 

Chapter 11: Moving Forward for an Extraordinary Future

ePub

First, say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.

—Epictetus (2nd century A.D.)

It is difficult to imagine that before the 1800s, there weren’t standard names or classifications of clouds. Humans have always watched the skies, but it wasn’t until 1802 that amateur meteorologist Luke Howard classified and labeled cirrus, cumulus, and stratus clouds.1 His identification and naming conventions provided a foundation for scientists and the general population alike to categorize all clouds as a variety of three basic forms, disseminate knowledge about them, study them further, and apply the information to weather prediction. The language itself gave people a way to make sense of the natural phenomenon of clouds. Over time, many people have forgotten or have never known that cloud names or the scientific study of clouds did not always exist.

Similarly, the ability to see the mighty oak in the acorn has always been at play, and throughout history it has shaped leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, and their success. Like farmers and sailors who developed their own systems for understanding clouds as signs of warning or fair weather, leadership scholars and innovation experts have seen and noted successful people’s novel perspectives and vision. Introducing Appreciative Intelligence, identifying it, and labeling it as a distinct form of intelligence, however, as in this book, have significant ramifications for individuals and organizations.

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub (DRM)
Encrypted
true
Sku
9781609943172
Isbn
9781609943172
File size
0 Bytes
Printing
10 times
Copying
Disabled
Read aloud
Yes
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata