David Cooperrider, Co-Creator of Appreciative Inquiry, Honoured With a Centre in His Name

A Place to Elevate, Magnify and Bring Our Highest Human Strengths

David Cooperrider and his colleague and collaborator Lindsey Godwin of the Stiller School of Business at the Nov. 8 opening of the David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry. (Photo: Stephen Mease)

David Cooperrider, Co-Creator of Appreciative Inquiry, Honoured With a Centre in His Name

AI has had deep influence on Generative Journalism as practiced by Axiom News

David Cooperrider, known internationally for his work as a co-creator of the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) approach, was honoured and appreciated in a unique and lasting way this week for his contributions to the field of organizational development, leadership and change.  

The David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry was officially opened on Nov. 8 at a ceremony at the Stiller School of Business of Champlain College, in Burlington, Vt.

AI has had deep influence on the development of Generative Journalism as pioneered and practiced by Axiom News.

“It gave us a theory to understand how to frame our inquiry,” says Axiom News founder and CEO Peter Pula.

AI is also described as a source, influence and “methodological cousin” by a worldwide network of practitioners of approaches to participatory leadership including Open Space, World Café, Deep Democracy, Theory U and The Art of Hosting.

Appreciative Inquiry focuses on identifying and building on strengths, aspirations and opportunities. It has been widely adopted in business, public service, education, the non-profit world, faith communities and even world affairs.

AI is “part of our daily work,” Peter says. “The focus is on strengths rather than on problems. The stories we tell lead us to where the energy in an organization or system is.” Published stories quickly become part of a virtuous cycle of larger conversation that is shaped by an organization’s gifts, dreams and possibilities — and can lead it “to a point of aspiration outside the system to which it can rally.”

David has been personally supportive of and connected to the work of Axiom News over a period of years, seeing the narrative work of Generative Journalism as a way facilitators, leaders and practitioners can maintain and build on the momentum created at events and gatherings.

In business, meanwhile, AI has had global impact. Some of the world’s most creative companies, including Apple and leaders in social responsibility such as Whole Foods Market, have made it part of their corporate culture. In October 2014, more than 600 executives and representatives of companies influenced by David's work, as well as NGOs, academics and students gathered at the Third Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit (BAWB), held at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western University, where David is professor of organizational behavior. The forum's challenge and agenda was to "Imagine a world where companies prosper, people excel, and nature thrives."

United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan gave Appreciative Inquiry one of its largest stages when an AI Summit of hundreds of CEOs, NGOs, political and labour leaders was held at the U.N. in 2004 — and one of its highest compliments when he said that “Without (AI), it would have been very difficult, perhaps even impossible, to constructively engage so many leaders of business, civil society and government.”

The Cooperrider Center at Champlain College was made possible by a $10 million gift from Bob and Christine Stiller, Champlain College states. Bob Stiller, the founder of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, a socially responsible Vermont company that has become a multi-billion dollar business as Keurig Green Mountain, credits David and the AI approach as factors in his success.

The new centre’s purpose is “to educate leaders to be the best in the world at seeing the best for the world.” Its declared intent is that those who work and study there will “discover and design positive institutions — organizations and communities that elevate, magnify, and bring our highest human strengths.”

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Axiom News has published the following two papers with David Cooperrider:

Background (from Case Western Reserve University)

David Cooperrider created the original Appreciative Inquiry theory with Suresh Srivastva, his early mentor. The two published their first article on the approach in 1987 in the journal Research in Organizational Change and Development. David also credits AI co-creators Ronald Fry, PhD, professor in organizational behaviour at Weatherhead School, Frank Barrett, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, and Godwin.

David is an internationally known management scholar and executive consultant who has written more than 20 books and more than 100 articles and book chapters. He has received some of the organizational behaviour field’s highest honours. 

In 2012, he was named the Peter F. Drucker Distinguished Fellow for the Peter F. Drucker & Masatoshi Ito School of Management (part of Claremont Graduate University) for his contributions to management thought. In earlier years, he was awarded the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society honour for “pioneering impact” in the field; honoured for his “distinguished contribution to the field of workplace performance and learning” by the American Society for Training and Development; and was named Visionary of the Year by Training Magazine in 2000.

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Ben Wolfe

Ben Wolfe brings Axiom News 25 years of experience in writing, editing, design and publishing in the service of community-building and social change.

Ben is a winner of national, regional and local awards as owner of his own design and communications business, focused on environment, the arts, health and community development. He has been a daily newspaper reporter/photographer, columnist, and the writer, editor and designer of a wide range of print and online publications.

Ben is a past director of communications of both local and national NGOs, most recently the Canadian Unitarian Council. He is a co-founder of Peterborough Green-Up, a hands-on, solutions-oriented local environmental action project, now in its 23rd year.

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