When did you last come away from an experience that had such an impact on you that you were filled with a joy and a hope that transformed you? You witnessed human flourishing and unity with others. You felt inspired by the conversations and connections. You felt alive and energized. You experienced a sense of wholeness, oneness and community cursing through your body and a peace and infinite hope for what else is possible.
I am filled with gratitude that I just came away from such an experience. The event was the Fourth Global Forum held at The Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit, at Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. Over 300 people were tasked to Discover Flourishing Enterprise: The Key to Great Performance. We came from 29 different countries by invitation, from free will, to contribute our minds, our hearts, our skills, our knowledge. We were curious and open and hopeful. We shared stories, dreams and aspirations.
Diversity underpins Human Flourishing
We were a hugely diverse gathering of people: business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs, multi-millionaires and start-ups; professors and students; octogenarians and millennials; of spiritual traditions, or none. We honored our diversity and our shared common belief: human flourishing exists at all levels: at the individual level, organizational and whole systems level. We shared our stories, listened and asked questions. We dreamed together about what we can bring to life. We co-created designs and prototypes of possible futures; and we rolled up our sleeves to develop deployment plans to turn our dreams and their prototypes into action.
Business as an Agent of World Benefit
It was my first time at a Global Forum, even though through my Appreciative Inquiry Certification at Weatherhead, I became familiar with and practiced at interviewing business leaders on the topic of Business as an Agent of World Benefit (BAWB). For this event, I volunteered as an Appreciative Inquiry facilitator. To my absolute delight, I was invited to co-facilitate the working group from AIM2Flourish with Professor Lindsey Godwin, my hero and dear colleague from the David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry at Champlain College in Burlington, VT.
Appreciative Inquiry in Practice
To read more stories about the transformation that seemingly unlikely partnerships are delivering in the field of human flourishing, please check out the special edition of the AI Practitioner a publication of almost 20 years that focuses exclusively on the applications of Appreciative Inquiry across the globe. This is a very generous gift from the owner, Wick van der Vaart, who co-edited this edition with David Cooperrider.
AIM2Flourish was born out of the Third Global Forum in 2014. Since then Roberta Baskin and Claire Summer (who as of June, 2017 now leads AIM2Flourish) and a handful of business leaders and professors have taken the dream to made it flourish. They have worked on an AIM2Flourish curriculum for university professors to link their students to enterprises that are not only doing well in the conventional business sense, but also doing good for their employees, their customers, the communities in which they operate, committed to human flourishing for all, including the planet. Moreover, the really unique and cool contribution that AIM2Flourish offers its partners is to invite the participating business schools and their students to identify the enterprises whose innovations and contributions to the world are also addressing any one of the 17 the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
I was deeply honored to co-facilitate the AIM2Flourish working group comprising students, professors and business leaders from a number of South American countries. This group included AIM2Flourish Prize Winners. Their awards came from sharing the stories of the businesses who were helping to contribute to human flourishing by addressing some of SDGs. The working group was brilliant and energized and committed to grow the AIM2Flourish mission by modeling leadership for 21st century and strengthening flourishing relationships across the plant. I was struck with awe and filled with gratitude to watch them and hear them embrace the Appreciative Inquiry process with aid of their cell phones to translate English text into Spanish and then back into English to share their insights, dreams and plans.
And even though we had a language barrier, we communicated and shared delight and joy at our mutual understanding of each other. We felt connected, united and impassioned by our shared commitment to amplifying human flourishing across the world.
Abundance of Talents, Generosity and Innovations
At this Fourth Global Forum every participant was a gift and there was an abundance of talent that spoke to our positive core of human flourishing, and wish I could name everyone, as every single person deserves credit. However, here's the line-up of outstanding keynoters and presenters, including David L Cooperrider, Chris Laszlo, Barbara Fredrickson, Tom Robinson, Jonathan Halpern, Jeff Hoffman, Shinzen Young, Jennifer Deckhard, Peter Senge, Julie Reiter, Fred Tsao. Jon Berghoff was the masterful lead facilitator with his brilliant group of associates who made it such an outstanding event. Fun and practical improv tips were delightfully lead by Betsy Crouch and Zoe Galvez, co-founders of Improv HQ. The talented graphic recorder was Jo Byrne, Here is a sample of her talent.
And, I got to meet the charming Chuck Fowler, whose generosity and vision for a flourishing world started this all off.
Please, if you get the opportunity to attend the Fifth Global Forum in 2020, treat yourself to an experience that will fill you up and sustain you at many levels. You will enter into communion with those who care deeply about human flourishing and are actively leading positive change.
Opportunity to Hear Flourishing Voices in my Podcast Episode
There's also a podcast episode where you can hear the voices of participants at the the Fourth Global Forum:
Business Leaders, Professors and their Students Expose Flourishing Enterprises