In 2007, I met Annet van de Wetering and at some point she told me I was quite “A-I”.
Being a mathematician, I first thought she meant ‘artificial intelligence’, but a few moments later I had learned a new thing called Appreciative Inquiry. It was at the time I was writing my book ‘Kracht zonder Macht’. (Would ‘Strength without Power’ be a proper translation?) This was a side-effect of my (still endless ongoing) PhD, regarding ‘power relations and vertical dialogue’ at the Dutch University of Humanistics (UvH).
Vertical Dialogue refers to the idea that managers in organizations carry – by position – the power to step back, in favor of open dialogue with co-workers. (That’s why I call it ‘vertical’.) Being an organizational development consultant, I had developed a few methods – or recipes – to enable Vertical Dialogue. Convinced that my book should be co-created with others, I advertised on the internet, calling for similar recipes, and Annet was one of the responders. She added two chapters to my book, both describing Appreciative Inquiry practices.
Was that my AI starting point? I’m not sure.
Perhaps the unconscious interest was already present at my last formal job within DHL, being responsible for ‘the people side of the change’, where I encountered both serious power play, as well as the opportunity to experiment with dialogic strategic planning processes. It was DHL that financed my entrée at the UvH-PhD-program. It was the ‘rude’ organization of DHL that made me long for humanizing initiatives. It was the UvH that presented my personal mission in the title of their PhD-program: “Humanization of Organization”. This all happened to me in the years 2004-2005, whilst preparing to become self employed. When my old friend and learning consultant Onno Geveke gave me the book Presence, in the summer of 2004, somehow my AI-starting point must have arisen in that period.
The rest is history. ‘Kracht zonder Macht’ was published in March, 2008. In November 2008, TNO Management Consultants organized a gathering of a new Dutch AI network, facilitated by … Annet van de Wetering.
Why am I telling this? Maybe because it’s standard AI practice to memorize strong moments in the past. The above mentioned ones were strong moments regarding my AI learning journey. And back to the present, connecting to strong sources is also the content of the first step in our AI100 program. That’s why the next chapters tell small stories about people who I consider to be my AI-sources; some of them stand nearby, the most I ‘know’ through being in their audience or by having read some of their work. It’s not that I’m standing on their shoulders; I’m trying to follow, to study and to practice their insights. And hopefully, you will get inspired as well.
Could this book be your first encounter with AI?
Can AI be as new to you, as it was to me back in 2007?
Who are your great sources of inspiration?
You’ve just read one of the 110 chapters of my book Appreciative Inquiries of the 3.0 Kind. Find out more (and a special pre-ordering offer) on www.appreciativeinquiries.eu.