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Saturday, 30 July 2011

The Power of Invitation

A great example today of the power of invitation.

I was reminded of it whilst looking at the Open IDEO's latest design challenge - The question was how might we seed conversations or change mindsets in ways that any of us could do?

My friend Dorothy was at our local Community Garden doing a litter pick this morning. The local teenage boys playing football in the garden accepted her invitation to help. As they cleared the litter they got into conversations about their different faiths (Islam and Christianity) and what that had to do with litter. Most people locally would have hesitated to speak to these guys at all.

Whenever I ask people about how they came to be involved in some activity, they invariably reply 'Oh so and so asked me.' The cynics say that people are apathetic and won't get involved.

It may just be that they are people who haven't been invited yet!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

More than happiness

So taken was I with Martin Seligman's short lecture at the RSA (see previous post of the video), that I bought his latest book. It is particularly salient for those of us working with communities and organisations to improve the quality of life.

His identifies the five elements that are to be found in people who are flourishing:

Positive emotions
Engagement (being absorbed by and in some activity)
Relationships - positive ones
Meaning - a sense that their life has purpose and meaning

He shows how people can consciously increase their ability to flourish. And provides the evidence to support his theory of flourishing. This has important implications for policy making as some governments and authorities are discovering.  

It will also provide a useful check list for my work with clients. Useful for yours as well?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Human Flourishing - Your business and mine

I thought - oh I'll just watch this for a few minutes - ended up glued to the whole thing.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Monday, 18 July 2011

Social Innovation By Design

Illustration by Gracia Lam

I am using product design methodology in my work with clients to re-design public services. I was introduced to this way of working whilst studying Appreciative Inquiry in America. 

There was a great example of how design thinking can be used to transform delivery of services featured in The Telegraph Magazine on Saturday, 16th July.

It describes how a design team went into Southwark and listened carefully to what older people said they wanted and needed. They then designed a social network cum concierge service which is having a positive impact on the lives of older residents. People do not feel patronised or 'done good to'. They can be contributors and receivers.

Friday, 8 July 2011

An Antidote to the NOTW Scandal

Something tells me that we won't be seeing News International being featured in the global inquiry 'Business as an Agent of World Benefit!

This global appreciative inquiry is collecting stories of where business is both 'doing well' i.e. making a profit, and 'doing good', benefiting humankind.  It is run by The Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

As part of my studies into positive business and society change there in 2009, I had to submit a case study to BAWB. I chose 'The Co-operative' trading group.  The Co-operative Bank story is featured on the BAWB at: 

In the early days of the inquiry, David Cooperrider, co-originator of appreciative inquiry, interviewed the management guru, Peter Drucker about BAWB. Cooperrider wrote:

'In the interview Drucker discussed how management needs to operate as a profession with a Hippocratic oath of “doing no harm” and how every social and global challenge of our day could be turned into business opportunity given the right mix of innovation, organizational competence, pragmatism, and business social entrepreneurship.'

'Do no harm' - News International might like to learn from the businesses featured at BAWB that you can make profits without resorting to dirty tactics and illegality.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Back of the Mind, Bottom of the Heart, Coolest Scenarios

The Louisiana band 'Givers' are about to perform for the first time in the UK. In an interview with 'The Observer' yesterday the reporter was bowled over by their joy and positivity. 

This band clearly don't need to attend any lectures on positive psychology or workshops about creating their own futures, they are just living it. Some quotes to give you a flavour:

'We are just regular people who were told growing up that we should get a degree and prepare for the worst.' Instead 'they imagined the best.'

'Everybody has their own coolest scenario-possible in the back of their minds and the bottom of their hearts - we focused on it as if it could be reality'.

'To tour with (Dirty Projectors) was a testament to all that bullshit I was just talking about - imagine the coolest scenario possible and just keep imagining it until it happens.'

Being able to picture what we want to achieve for the future affects our actions today - whether that is learning to play instruments, setting up as a band and doing whatever gigs you can wherever, as Givers did. 

What is your back of the mind, bottom of the heart, coolest scenario for the future?

To read the full article go to:

Friday, 1 July 2011

A Touch of Magic in Hard Times

What have positive approaches to change management got to offer when times are hard and cuts are being made?

Yesterday I was in the East of England working in just this way with a newly constructed team in a large local authority. In the room were thirty plus people who had previously been part of four other teams. They had seen valued colleagues lose their jobs and found themselves reshuffled to make up a new team that will serve the organisation in a different way.

So where did the magic come in? It came in as:

- people shared something of themselves - their mood, their hopes, the things that spark their energy and creativity at work;
- they honoured the legacy of former colleagues by sharing stories of their former team's very best work;
- they uncovered from their histories all the times when they had joined new teams and been part of successful teams, identifying what had made the experiences so good;
-  from their stories, they drew out all that these had to tell them about what makes for success;
- they used these findings and their ideas for 'what else' to develop a picture of the future they want to create for the new team;
- they determined the actions they could take immediately to move towards their vision.

And through the day the energy levels rose and rose - energy that is essential for change to happen. I had made some wands for them to use to grant their wishes for the new team. I had even brought some fairy dust. None of it was needed. 

They had created the necessary magic all by themselves!