Improve your conversations, improve your life.
That’s the aim of a new book co-authored by Jacqueline M. Stavros, professor in LTU’s College of Business and Information Technology, called “Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement.”
The book, co-authored with Asheville, N.C. leadership consultant Cheri Torres, uses real-life anecdotes, backed up by scientific evidence, to teach two simple practices for creating conversations worth having – positive framing and generative questions – and five principles that support them.
Originally, Stavros said, the two authors set out to rewrite their 2005 book, “Dynamic Relationships: Unleashing the Power of Appreciative Inquiry in Daily Living.” But in that collaboration, the new book emerged.
“We see the potential to change people’s lives and community and organizational outcomes through every conversation,” Stavros said. “Our editor, Steve Piersanti, helped us to create a book that will easily speak to people looking to have more uplifting conversations, strong relational connections, and more innovative and creative outcomes for the complex problems facing our organizations and communities these days. This is the first book we’ve written that is filled with practical ‘how to’ combined with illustrative stories.”
Stavros’ research and work are heavily influenced by her passion for Appreciative Inquiry, or AI, that was created by David L. Cooperrider, Fairmount Minerals Chair and Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Cooperrider chaired the dissertation committee for Stavros’ Doctor of Management degree from Case Western. Stavros said AI is an effective and widely used approach for fostering positive change and dramatically improving the outcomes of any conversation.
Said Cooperrider of the new book: “This is the first book of its kind to take Appreciative Inquiry’s profound promise of positive leadership into legacy-creating conversations. In a world where so many conversations are separating us from the vast potentials, may this book help to change not just our world, but our world of conversations.”
The book has earned high praise from business and psychology experts – and from Stavros’ colleagues at Lawrence Tech.
“This book is a gift to us in a timely manner,” said Virinder Moudgil, Lawrence Tech president. “Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres’ work has broad significance and relevance anywhere. It encompasses importance of conversations at the micro-level with individuals, groups, and corporations to the mega levels to address international economic, political, and military conflicts.”
Added Jennifer A. Hitchcock, an LTU alumna who is now executive director of the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC): “Jackie and Cheri provide practical ways to use Appreciative Inquiry every day. They show how to solve tough problems, create meaningful dialogue, and build productive relationships using simple practices. Great book!”
And Jane Dutton, Robert L. Kahn Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, said: “After reading this book, you will be equipped to foster thriving and well-being in your life. This book is brimming with insights, stories, and practical tools. It is a gift to leaders, change agents, and individuals who wish to create positive change!”
Essentially, the technique of appreciative inquiry seeks to focus conversations on what we want to happen, rather than what we want to avoid, and asking positively framed questions to deepen understanding and increase possibilities. In the book, a struggling hospital sees improvement when meetings concentrated on the experiences of patients who were highly satisfied, finding out what made them that way, rather than concentrating on problems. A struggling bank, in another example, has the person who opens the most new accounts, and the person who opens them the fastest, collaborate on a training regimen for the bank that combines both their skills.
The book is published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers, an Oakland, Calif.-based publishing house whose motto is “Connecting people and ideas to create a world that works for all.” It’s organized as a Benefit Corporation, a new class of for-profit corporation based on laws recently enacted in 30 states to serve the public benefit and all stakeholders. The book is now available at www.amazon.com or www.bkconnection.com. At BK, enter the promo code LTU25 for a 25 percent discount for the LTU community.