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Gervase Bushe Summerclass in Netherlands

Introduction Gervase Bushe                 Gervase bushe picture

G.Bushe did his PHD in Case Western university and works in this area for over 30 years, he and D.cooperrider were at school together while he was developing AI

“I was working on sociotechnical systems organizations where you develop team-based manufacturing and industrial democracy. Then I worked in General Motors, working on redesigning large bureaucratic organization into more collaborative organizations, including process reengineering.

I discovered AI in 1989 when David Cooperider was talking about it, people where negative about it especially academics. AI was at the beginning more of a philosophy than a technique. A new trend has been discovered in the past 20 years where OD has shifted from Diagnostic to Dialogic. Afterwards the focus was on Appreciative process where a change agent continuously is able to create positive change in different situations.

And another subject is “Positive deviance”, which  is an approach to behavioral and social change based on the observation that in any community, there are people whose uncommon but successful behaviors or strategies enable them to find better solutions to a problem than their peers, despite facing similar challenges and having no extra resources or knowledge than their peers. These individuals are referred to as positive deviants.”


What makes AI work4D

Teams: Teams identification effects work of AI or not? The level of how individuals are identified with the group has profound impact for AI to work. In social systems there are two groups, Pre-identity group and Post- identity group. A simple test to detect that is in the language they refer to the group as “We” or “they”.  This notion is essential for developmental process of teams.

AI works differently with Pre-identity groups than Post- identity groups, where group feeling, personal sacrifice for the sake of the group is prevailing. The transition from Pre- to Post-identity groups is the core mode to organizational development.

How the groups are going to be identified is based on 2 kinds of visionary guides:  The way how dialogical process work is, by creating a common vision of the future, and AI is one of them whereby is created by focusing on strengths. The Two kinds of visionary guides are: Ideal & Ought (Tony Higgins psychologist):


a-    Ideal:  everyone has an image of an ideal team (Characteristics) and this influences the choice of belonging to a group. The gap between reality and image makes person’s decision if he wants to belong to it or not.  AI can make group share their ideal image and close the gap. Closing the gap between ideal and actualà inquiry into the ideal in a pre-identity system.


b-    Ought: How the group ought to be? Like its tasks, functions and workings. People are not concerned about ought to image unless individual identify with the group. First individual is concerned about his needs in the group. After identification then switched to the group feeling of “what do we have to do here together?”


For Pre-identity groups (page 3 Bushe article) à the dream phase is much more potent and important where the ideal stuff comes out, but for the Post-identity group (ought) àThe Design phase is more important, there where the action lies.  So an inquiry of an ideal in a post-identity group will be unnecessary. And the same goes for the inquiry of the ought in a Pre-Identity group, where the group will experience it as huge task not willing to accomplish at this phase of group. The key to a successful design of AI practice is to ask what kind of group you are dealing with Pre- or Post-Identity group. An emotional bond must be created (in a Pre-identity group). What is essential in a Pre-identity group inquiry is to engage as much people as possible by letting them interviewing each other. Transformational potential of AI in pre-identity system notable realized when a common identity emerges.

The Gap: discovery phase, interviewing each other is to close the gap

a-   How to identify pre/post groups? ask teammembers wich are their 5 criteria for an ideal team. let them rate their team on those 5 criteria (present or not). High scores point at post  identity, low scores at pre-identity state.

(5 questions if you get different answers among the group then it is Preà the scale of 5  (talking in the form of “They”) )

b-   Post: talking in the form of “we”

  • The success of AI in a Post-identity system lies in the ability to generate new ideas especially in the now and here of the organization. A new idea does not mean a new idea in the planet but in the group. Some ideas emerge in the margin but has never made to the upfront. AI makes the system aware of new things they were not doing and gives it a status. The more ideas the better.
  • Which processes creates more generative ideas? The more generative processesà the more the chance to lead to transformation.
  • Design Phase: Too much consensus saps energy away ( the example of the house , rushing to build the house )
  • It gets difficult when there is no real sponsor (the one who is in charge of the process) or sponsorship.
  • Sometimes when you work on Subgroup and it improves, it declines again in development when it is again back into the system, that’s why we have to engage as much as possible people from the whole system.
  • Run the discovery phase to create the pre into post before the summit, some will not respond to the invitation and be filtered out naturally.

a-      Nortel case using IT to connect people through the world by using stories and practices that everyone have access to.

b-      You can do an inquiry into a group from Pre to Post, and then engage other stakeholders like clients & other outside to generate new ideas!

c-      The case of US navy to create an identity before moving to the next phase of the inquiry by F.Barett. (http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/practice/ppNavy.cfm)

Study: Analysis of 20 cases of AI

Findings : 36 variables were examined, only 3 emerged to have statistically significant difference

Analysis of 20 AI cases TC (13) IC (7)
Create New Ideas 100% 0%
Generative Metaphor Emergence 100% 8%
Improvisational Approach to Destiny 83% 16%
  • Transformational Change (TC): is the transformation in the state of being of a system.
  • Incremental Change (IC): The system is still the same, it is only better at something.
  • Generative Metaphor (GM): An idea that was never thought earlier about, idea: new ways to think about the world. The most powerful force for change is a new idea.

a-      Generative metaphor (GM): Cooperrider à AI & business as agents of world benefit are generative metaphors for David Cooperrider

b-       Bushe àsustainable development: The case of Greenpeace

c-      Dialogic change process is to change how people think, works with self-organizing properties of how to work with emerging properties of change. Peggy Holman Book describes this process of emergence.

d-      Generative metaphor opened a field of action which it did not exist before, Generative ideas are compelling and new ideas.

  • Improvisational Approach to destiny: You get change faster by letting go of control and allowing of emergence to occur in the system. Then, stimulating the growth process and getting out of the way.
  • AI solves problems through generativity and not through problem solving. AI in incremental change case systems people are happy the way it is, and do not want it to change. Ask the client what do you want and what do you want more of. Sometimes leaders of organizations don’t know what the problem is. AI is strong at shifting the culture. Tip: “Yes to the Mess: surprising leadership lessons from Jazz” of Frank Barrett.
  • The important thing in AI is what are you inquiring at and do you have the right question? A question that employees like to think about and act upon. And the leadership of the system would acknowledge the exact question that the organization should be answering. That is going to change the process.
  • Consultants should learn to do better interviews, better description of the problem. And in AI it is better people interview each other as much as possible and engage as much as possible. People talk to each other about that issue and write about it as a story. Stories are fuel for creating solutions and generative ideas.


1-     Improvisational Change process: Appreciative processà what do you want more of? Cooperrider focuses on positive but sometimes (Bushe) generative ideas come from negative emotion. AI good for transforming the culture and the way of thinking, Bushe uses instead Appreciative process

2-     How to make the inquiry generative? It is more how to create space for it, not necessary positive/happy but it has to touch us and get us out of our heads. Inquire through the heart to connect to each other, there you can find common ground in our relationship as human beings. Example: The Dalai Lama Community center in Canada.

3-     Co-Constructing each other. In each of us exists the same human virtues, so if I see that way I want to work with you more that way? What is the me that is reflected in your eyes?

4-     Tracking and fanning the best in people: Tracking is like what you do in the woods m searching for the small track of the prey. This you can do when you decide what qualities you want to have in somebody then track it and fan it(like fanning a small fire in order to get more of it) you will see more of that quality in them.

5-     Appreciative leadership (Appreciative process of change): paying attention to what is the best in them; appreciative processàfocuses on what you want more of and feel it is already there. Tracking and fanning with customers is focusing on the best of them and praise that. But Praise only accepted by somebody who is given authority in that field. Praise that comes from a leader is like psychic food for the people. According to the archetypes of leaders, good sovereign leaders bring the greatness out in other people. They are there to bless and praise and that is a ritual practice of a good leader. They see the greatness in others, and that’s when we get performance in organizations. Shadow sovereign leaders in the contrary want to be praised, and want to hear how great and smart they are, and they have only vision for themselves. In such organizations, it all becomes into competing factions, stabbing each other and each defends his position, while in the realm of good sovereign everyone is happy and can work with each other and have a vision of the great realm. The bad king has a vision of themselves.

6-     Conventional Change management Vs. Performance amplification

Performance amplification: performance is determined by people’s mental maps and thinking what is possible. You need to have the right metric for performance measurement, and it must be realistic. A leading indicator is essential to be detected and used correctly for performance indication. Often manager look at how to increase revenues, while they should be looking how to reduce waste (Cost).

7-     How to increase positivity in organizations? Kim Cameron talks about positive organizational behavior in her book (positive psychology at work).

8-     Dialogical ODà Open space technology, World Café, real-time change

9-     AIà better in negative –deficit-based systems in order to transform it, AIà when positivity become part of the culture then AI becomes obsolete

10- AI in Merger & Acquisitions: you have two pre-identity groups and how to merge them, Method: interview& talk about how great the other group is.
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