Ghent, Belgium – Ilja Heitlager gets goose-bumps every time he sees a video documenting the surprising connection and energy an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) summit ignited in his company earlier this year.
Sharing this response during the fifth World Appreciative Inquiry Conference this week, Ilja said his workplace, the IT firm Schuberg Philis, hadn’t imagined this kind of response. In fact, it took three years for them to muster up the courage to hold the summit. They had many fears around engaging front-line technicians in contemplating the future of the organisation.
But the results suggest the gathering was more than worth it; 16 innovative, new projects and a greener company, being the least of these.
“The most important thing is that people have energy again, the same as when we first started out as a company. And we feel all this affection for each other,” Ilja said. The company has also begun sharing its story and new focus with other organisations in the field, in the hopes of inspiring others.
In a different field and miles away, an Indian microfinance firm is also disrupting their industry with their revolutionary take on a new source of wealth – generative connections between unlikely people.
Also sparked by the AI philosophy, the connections are between the leaders of 40 competing microfinance firms, brought together through the leadership of one of them, director David Wallack of IFMR Trust.
While many of these leaders had been feeling isolated and alienated, particularly when the microfinance industry in that area was hit hard last year, they’ve become an allied team of leaders designing a new future together.
As always, sustaining and expanding this generative connectivity will be the ongoing opportunity, a point Dr. Kenneth Gergen and Dr. Danielle Zandee made in a lively dialogue also at the world strengths conference April 26.
While the recognized social construction thought leaders didn’t pretend to have the full answer on how to do this, inviting the audience to make this question their own going forward, Kenneth did speak to the connecting power of storytelling as an element.
What are your thoughts on how we can sustain and expand a culture of generative connectivity?
By Michelle Strutzenberger
Feel free to comment below, or e-mail michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.