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National Smart Start Conference 2013. Diana Whitney PhD Appreciative Leadership: Focus on What Works to Build a Thriving Organization. “Every generation needs a new revolution.”. Thomas Jefferson “Every organization needs a positive revolution.” .

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national smart start conference 2013

National Smart Start Conference 2013

Diana Whitney PhD

Appreciative Leadership: Focus on What Works to Build a Thriving Organization

every generation needs a new revolution
“Every generation needs a new revolution.”

Thomas Jefferson

“Every organization needs a positive revolution.”

Diana Whitney

leadership at the nexus of three innovative fields
Leadership at the Nexus of Three Innovative Fields

Diana Whitney

what is appreciative inquiry ai
What is Appreciative Inquiry (AI)?

Diana Whitney

the case of procare
The Case of PROCARE

79% Customer Satisfaction

  • Desire to improve.
  • Focus groups with dissatisfied customers – only.
  • Shared the information/results.
  • The bottom drops out.
    • Employee Satisfaction declined
    • Quality dropped
    • Customer Satisfaction declined

Diana Whitney

appreciative inquiry approach
Appreciative Inquiry Approach

Inquiry into “Root Cause of Success”

Outstanding Customer Service

  • Interviews with satisfied and

dissatisfied customers.

  • “Best in Class” benchmarking.
  • Shared information/results.
  • 8 months
    • 95% Customer Satisfaction
    • Employee Satisfaction increased as did quality

Diana Whitney

appreciative inquiry is
Appreciative Inquiry is...
  • A philosophy of human organization and change.
  • A high engagement process for positive change.
  • A positive, strengths based approach to leadership.

The study of what gives life to people, teams and organizations when they are at their best.

Diana Whitney

inquiry is the intervention
Inquiry is the Intervention
  • The questions we ask are fateful.
  • They determine what we find.
  • They create the world as we know it.

Diana Whitney

words create worlds
Stress in the Workplace

Joyful Productivity

Words Create Worlds

Diana Whitney


Appreciative Inquiry 4-D Process


Study the best of what is.

Select Your

Affirmative Topic




Organize for action.


Envision what might be.

Positive Core


Decide what will be.

Diana Whitney

examples appreciative inquiry in action
Examples: Appreciative Inquiry in Action
  • United Religions Initiative
  • GTE/Verizon
  • Hunter Douglas Window Fashions Division
  • British Airways
  • US Navy
  • Sisters of Good Shepherd
  • Lovelace Health System
  • UVA Health System
  • Global Interfaith Organization
  • Union Management Relations
  • Culture Transformation & Strategic Planning
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Leadership Development
  • LT Planning & Direction Setting
  • Nurse Morale and Retention
  • Inter-professional Collaboration

Diana Whitney

leaders of successful appreciative inquiry initiatives
Leaders of Successful Appreciative Inquiry Initiatives

Willing to dialogue with other members of their organization or community to create a better way.

Care about people. Often describe the work of their business as helping people learn, grow, and have a better life.

Truly believe in the power of the positive: attitudes, emotions, recognition, intention and strengths.

Willing to learn and change in the process.

Diana Whitney

appreciative leadership
Appreciative Leadership

Appreciative Leadership is the relational capacity to mobilize creative potential and turn it into positive power.

It sets in motion ripples of confidence, energy, enthusiasm and performance – that make a positive difference in the world.

Diana Whitney

five strategies to focus on what works
Five Strategies to Focus on What Works

Diana Whitney

1 the wisdom of inquiry
1 - The Wisdom of Inquiry

Leadership by Asking Positively Powerful Questions

“Tell me about the river that connects you.”

Diana Whitney

positively powerful questions
Positively Powerful Questions

Focus upon what you VALUE…

And what you WANT MORE OF…

Diana Whitney

we want more collaboration across sectors
We want more: Collaboration Across Sectors
  • Select a partner.
  • Ask:
    • Recall an experience of Successful Collaboration Across Sectors. It may have been among policy makers and service providers, parents and teachers, within your agency, one school or a whole community.
    • What was the situation? Tell me about it.
    • Who was involved and how did they contribute to the success of this collaboration across sectors?
    • What are all the things that made collaboration across sectors work well in this situation?
  • Change roles and repeat.
  • Time: 4 minutes each x2 = 8 minutes total.

Diana Whitney

2 the genius of inclusion
2 - The Genius of Inclusion

Leadership by Engaging With People

“Don’t talk about me without me.”

Diana Whitney

all the people who s future it is
All the People Who’s Future it is.
  • Idaho State Department of Education
  • AI Summit – 250 People
  • Focus: Educational Services for Students who are Deaf and Blind
  • Sub-Text: Should we close the school?
  • Who would you invite?

Diana Whitney

who would you invite
Who Would You Invite?
  • Teachers
  • School Administrators
  • Students – Blind and Deaf
  • Adults – Blind and Deaf
  • Governor’s Office
  • Advocacy Groups
  • Educators at all Levels
  • Other States FacingSimilar Issues
  • Parents
  • Family Members
  • Community Members
  • Local Board of Education
  • State Dept. of Education
  • State Legislators
  • Sign Interpreters
  • Guide Dogs
  • The Public
  • Others?

Diana Whitney

high engagement ai summit
High Engagement AI Summit

Diana Whitney


Consensus Decision to Keep the School

Set of Agreed Upon Recommendations to the State Department of Education

Acceptance and Budgeting of the Recommendations by the State Legislature

Significantly Strengthened Relationships

Greater Parental Involvement

Improved Services

Diana Whitney

3 the art of illumination
3 - The Art of Illumination

Leadership by Bringing Out the Best

of People and Situations.

We are made and imagined in the eyes of each other.

Diana Whitney

peter drucker management guru
Peter Drucker, Management Guru

“The task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths, toward a goal, in such a way that weaknesses become irrelevant.”

Diana Whitney


“Near perfect performance in an activity.”

  • Feel easy.
  • Increase excellence, success, productivity.
  • Provide a sense of joy, flow, energy, and fulfillment. 

Now, Discover Your Strengths

Buckingham and Clifton

Diana Whitney

excellent performers
Excellent Performers

Diana Whitney

  • Are rarely well-rounded.
  • They capitalize on their strengths.
  • They minimize their weaknesses.
  • Only 20% of people say they get to use their strengths on a daily basis.
  • Each person’s greatest room for growth is in his or her areas of greatest strengths.

Now, Discover Your Strengths

Buckingham and Clifton

strengths spotting
Strengths Spotting

Diana Whitney

strengths spotting questions
Strengths Spotting Questions
  • Tell me about a recent success, something you’ve done in the past few weeks or months that gave you great satisfaction and pride.
        • What did you do?
        • What else did you do?
        • What gave you the idea to do this?
        • Who else was involved and how did you relate to them?
        • Tell me more about what you did to make this a success.
  • Based upon your story, I sense that some of your strengths are…

Diana Whitney

strengths spotting try it now
Strengths Spotting – Try it Now

Select a partner – “ an improbable partner.”

Ask your partner to tell you a success story.

Listen to discover your partner’s strengths.

Reflect 4 - 6 strengths you hear back to your partner.

Reverse Roles

Time: 4 minutes each x 2 = 8 minutes total

Diana Whitney

4 the courage of inspiration
4 - The Courage of Inspiration

Leadership by Awakening the Creative Spirit

People flourish in the presence of positivity.

Diana Whitney


The Birth of Positive Psychology

  • Prof. M. Seligman, President, APA, 1996
  • Author: Learned Optimism;Authentic Happiness: Flourish
  • He asked a provocative question:
        • What has the field of psychology studied?
            • Findings for 30 years of research:
            • 45,000 studies on depression, illness
            • 300 studies on joy, hope, happiness

Diana Whitney


Research into Positive Emotions

  • Dr. Barbara Fredrickson
  • Author: Positivity and Love 2.0
  • University of North Carolina
  • “Broaden and Build Theory”
                • Broaden Attention and Thinking
                • Undo Lingering Negative Emotional Arousal
                • Build Resiliency for Change.

Diana Whitney

more of fredrickson s research positive emotions performance
More of Fredrickson’s ResearchPositive Emotions & Performance

Joy……….……, imagination, experimentation Innovation

Interest…...involvement, investigate, explore New Knowledge

Optimism.....opportunity, confidence, persevere Achievement

Contentment...savor, integrate complex ideas Deeper Insight

Love……………..….……….………………connect, relate Cooperation

Diana Whitney

positivity ratio
Positivity Ratio

Diana Whitney

“People flourish in the presence of positive emotions

and positive communication.”

The Healthy Range is 4+ : 1- ------------- 11+ : 1-

MarcialLosada, Chile

Successful Teams 5+:1-

John and Julie Gottman, Seattle, WA

Long Term Successful Marriages 5+:1-

a tale of two wolves
A Tale of Two Wolves

Diana Whitney

try this experiment appreciation buddies
Try this experiment:Appreciation Buddies
  • Select a Buddy.
  • Short weekly call.
  • One purpose: To give specific appreciation

to each other.

  • Commit to 4 - 6 weeks.
  • Email Diana what happens after 4 weeks!

Diana Whitney

5 the path of integrity
5 - The Path of Integrity

Diana Whitney

Leadership by Making Choices for the Good of the Whole

Integrity = Integral = Wholeness = Healing = Holy = Sacred

leadership as a sacred trust
Leadership as a Sacred Trust

“To be on the Path of Integrity is to be moving, growing and evolving toward wholeness; and to be supporting and enabling others to do the same.”

Diana Whitney

Diana Whitney

“Make a career of humanity…You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

remember one guiding principle
Remember: One Guiding Principle

“Take care of yourself,

so you can take care of others.”

Diana Whitney

five strategies to focus on what works1
Five Strategies to Focus on What Works

Diana Whitney

Inquiry: Ask Positively Powerful Questions.

Inclusion: Invite Improbable Participation.

Illumination: Be a Strengths Spotter.

Inspiration: Maintain a 5/1 Positivity Ratio.

Integrity: Attend to Wholeness – Your Own and Others’.

for more information
For More Information

Diana Whitney, Ph.D.

Corporation for Positive Change

Appreciative Inquiry Consulting


Appreciative Leadership Development

Keynote Speaking


Diana Whitney