My post to ODN list serve today:

I have a degree in philosophy, as well I am one of the senior social psychologists of the world. I say such so you can appreciate my being influenced by a quote from a great philosopher. I read Dr. David Cooperidder’s thesis on appreciative inquiry (AI) before he submitted it. I wanted so much to just focus on the positive. I attempted to be as pure AI as i could until just a few years ago. Many founders (Barry Johnson-Rev. John Scherer) of OD believed that one must also deal with the shadow side of a client’s world. Agryris who has influenced my deepest social psychology and Applied Behavioral Science Whole System Transformation ™ methodology especially wants to deal with the undiscussables” and the unhappy side. The following quote that i read this morning supports the both side, whole view or the value of paradox.

It is from Swami Krishnananda, who for me is my favorite complete spiritualist and philosopher. He and I are direct disciples of Swami Sivananda.

Here it is for your reflection.
“All through my adventure of managing The Divine Life Society, I had kept in my mind not to omit any aspect unnoticed, but bring into the fold of my consideration every aspect – financial, social, ethical, and spiritual, all at the same time. In my meditations I adopt the same method, I leave no thought aside as unworthy, because the rejected thought also is a thought and so it will refuse to be so easily rejected, since every thought is connected with its opposite; the synthesis of all these thoughts would amount to a cosmic thought, a total thought. Every possible thought of the universe will resound with equal status, and there will be an all-glorious universal meditation. This should keep one perpetually in the positive mood of complete attunement with God Almighty.”

He also has my stance of Wholeness. He looks at everything from every view!!!

He and another or so dozen direct disciples of Dr. Sivananda are my primary motivation for transforming my own dear Child of GOD SELF. ( I just told a potential 100,000 member client system who is the most profitable in their industry that I request their help in helping me model self transformation.)

I know u all have been in dialogue around large conferences. Well, Dannenmiller taught me to bring out the dissatisfaction ( the sad) and what was working ( the happy). Just heard her on tape this week, when she and I presented at a National OD Conference, say that the cause for transformation is partially due to dealing with dissatisfaction, vision and first steps. She said Beckhard believed that such reduced resistance to change but she said it caused the magic or transformation.

Thanks Master Rev. Scherer and the wise one – William LeGray for the recognition!!

8 Responses to “”

  1. rolandsullivan Says:

    From my associate Rev. John Scherer
    Thanks for ‘putting it out there’ like you have here, Roland. . . You get another ‘A+’ for modeling the embracing of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I think I am reluctant to claim to be any kind of ‘elder’ or ‘master’ at any aspect of our field because I know the instant I claim THAT, I will also need to claim an equally less-than-masterful truth about myself. If I say, “Man, I can really light up a room full of people and make complicated stuff easy and even fun-to-understand’ I will also have to admit, ‘And I get off on it, sometimes. . .’

    Re you and AI, Ronald, for a while I thought the validity and power of AI had led you to dis-own the ‘other stuff’, but I see now how you are integrating both poles. Our good friend and mentor, Ron Lippitt, taught me to seek out BOTH what he called ‘Prouds’ and ‘Sorries’ and that habit has stayed with me over the years. That, and my Gestalt and Transactional Analysis work. Oh, and my theological studies: it’s Law AND Grace, Justice AND Mercy, Love AND Hate, Faith AND Fear. Like your guy, Sivananda, said. . . It’s all One anyway. . .

    In a paper from a few years back, ‘The Role of Chaos in the Creation of Change’, I said that true transformation had two ‘parents’ — Pain and Possibility. That I had never run across a true transformation that hadn’t been preceded by both those two characters. But then I said that the ‘birth canal’ for transformation was CHAOS, that nothing really NEW can come into being without passing through at least SOME time of non-being, of confusion—no, of something way beyond confusion.

    I think THAT is what scares both clients and us consultants alike: not the ‘negative’ aspects of a certain situation, but the unconscious awareness (not that’s an oxymoron. . .) that if we go ‘there’ and act on what is calling us forward, that path will take us through an experience of chaos, an abyss, where the normal rules of management—even leadership—do not apply. (BTW, I think my paper turned out to be a chapter in Marshall Goldsmith’s ‘The Many Facets of Leadership’.)


  2. rolandsullivan Says:

    from Joseph, an OD guru from India


    This is soulful sharing from you. Valued indeed. The dance of insight as it were rewiring the neural pathways for me on polarities, system properties and change agentry.

    Am also reminded of the magic of this medium – the listserv.

    Peace to the discussed issues, and to the ones that are not. Respect to the cognizable sub-systems, and to its veritable whole. Can OD or its progeny in authenticity and sharing, be the music or an instrument of the human soul?

    Wow, Roland, when people like you connect up pieces of experience like this, it is supreme service to one like me on this list,



  3. rolandsullivan Says:

    From Dr. E.

    Roland, lot of the above positive and negative pole dialogue has its modern roots in the thinking and practice of the late hypnotist Dr. Milton Erickson. When Bandler and Grinder

    (roland comment: I studied personally with them in the late 70’s in CA) went to Greg bateson and asked whose practices they should make a meta-model of, Bateson immeditately sent them to Erickson. In all of Erickson’s work (therapeutic/change communication/ behavioral rituals) we will find at least one common theme: “not that…. this” (e.g., gripe to goal). We could also refer to it as “reframing”. Hoewever the skill of the practitioner is how to make the setup, so the reframe occurs for the client(s). Therefore, we can also see the reframe in AI (from what’s the problem here… to what’s working here). As much as I like AI, and am very oriented to that kind of approach, I am also in agreement with the posts that center both the negs and the positives. However, my thinking on this is that the practitioner also needs to make room for other possibility. This, as some say: both/and.

    Earon Kavanagh, PhD
    Graduate of the Taos/Tilburg University PhD program for Change Practitioners
    Graduate of the NTL Institute program in organization development


  4. rolandsullivan Says:

    For 40 years i have used the “:gripe to goal” notion when i interview. When people start complaining and describe,, let’s say their team communication problem,, i say and what do you suggest the team DO and BE to resolve that.

    In mature organizaitons that have worked with me for a while we can go pure Appreciative Inquiry or focus on the positive.

    I have a 25 yr client that is so open with each other that they do not hold anything back. All problems are addressed in real time immediately. We focus on dreams and a positive future in our yearly offsite labs.


  5. rolandsullivan Says:

    I hang out on the web at the national OD list serve and the Pepperdine OD program alumni list serve. Sometimes i share hot stuff there with you here.

    From Eron: Thanks Roland. And thanks for this great idea I got when I went to your blog yesterday. I notice you sometimes place what you write here on your blog. I am now doing the same with my blog. I think it’s a great use of your creativity and work here. Thanks again.


  6. rolandsullivan Says:

    Again from Earon. i only place stuff here that will help my students and clients understand better what i do and why i do it.

    I just got in tune with an insight buzz going around my head after I wrote my last comment. When I took the basic AI with Dyana Whitney up at the OD conference in Vancouver (2001) I spoke up my concern that too much focus on the positive is a bit fairy tale-ish. Some folks would buy into it. But I doubt if critical thinkers would. Upon reflection, I realize that my concern was about the level of practitioner skill employed.

    But I’m a long time user of social constructionism, and that’s the core theory that has constructed AI. So I live and brathe AI in a more complex manner (except when I occasionally buy into negativity). I’m also a long time user of solution focused therapy (from the late Steve deShazer and narrative therapy (from the late Michael White). SFT can be employed in coaching and many other related areas, including multiple OD processes. Many newbies to SFT often pick a simple tool called the “miracle question” and beat it to death (ineffectivity) by overuse. I am told by one practitioner at deShazer’s clinic that the miracle question was happened upon by accident, when his wife got frustrated with a client and blurted out something like this: “so if a miracle happened over night, and you woke up and everything was exactly how you wanted it to be, what would be different”? What I’m saying here is that I have seen many a practitioner use this question almost in a rote, mechanical, manner. The real richness, the possibility for change, occurs in matching the inquiry to the client. And therein is where the practitioner skill lies. So if we think of AI in a very basic way (about being positive) I think we lose its potential for richness.

    Now further to my point on the negative and the positive. When we place them together in such a way as to place them into relationship, we will most likely discover that the negative and positive are forces that are ultimately working to achieve the same outcome, but coming from different ends and different needs, and different constructed/ interpreted meanings. The ultimate outcome is love. But that often takes some practitioner skill, to make space for the client(s) to realize this. As Bateson and Korzybski would agree, and probably Russell with his theory logical types, a lot of this is grounded in language and the internal and external monologues/discourses we employ (often unconsciously) to construct our senses of reality. But… when we place the negative and positive together (via a well executed process), they become collapsed. I have seen this so many times over 16 years of fulltime practice. Possiblity space opens up.

    But I also think that the larger the group the more complexity involved. I think the most I have used it with is 33 refugees from Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia.


  7. rolandsullivan Says:

    Practical ways of turning negative to positive
    From Mike:

    Thanks for formally inviting me into the group. I have been privileged to be an observing part of it for some while, thanks to your forwarding stuff and the miracles of the Internet.
    For those of you who might be interested, transforming a “gripe” (a word that does not translate well into other languages as I have learned from working in Belgium and Holland) into a goal goes like this.

    1. Think of a current reality or situation in your “world” that frustrates, angers, bothers, disturbs, troubles, or upsets you.

    2. Once you have the situation in mind (and granted that you could write an entire paragraph or even chapter about it) describe it in one sentence beginning with the words: “My frustration, gripe or difficulty is that ………………………..”

    3. Now, write about the very same situation again, but this time in a sentence that begins with the words, “My real concern is………………”

    4. Now, please write about your concern in a sentence that begins with, “What I am REALLY wishing for is…………”
    (You can be as fanciful, imaginative, as you wish. The wish can seem ridiculous, impossible, far-out, as foolish as you want to make it, as long as it is: a. in the future and b. is related to the concern (kind of turning the concern upside-down.)

    5. Finally, in light of everything you have written and everything else you know about the situation please finish this sentence, “Therefore, my goal is to ……………………..” (If the goal is identical to your wish, just put ditto marks at this point and pull the wish down into the goal. On the other hand, if you feel a need to be a bit more realistic and practical than you were in the “wish” statement, write down what your goal is. YOU DO NOT NEED TO KNOW HOW TO REACH YOUR GOAL.

    6. Finally, in that last sentence, “Therefore, my goal is to…………………” insert the word “How” between the words “is” and “to”. That sentence will provide the beginning of a definition of your problem. That is, you can now say, “I have a problem I need help in solving. My problem is ‘How to…………………..”

    NOTE: the group with whom the “client” is working, before offering any suggested solutions, should listen to the client answer several questions such as, 1. What is the background or context of this issue? 2. What make this issue YOUR problem? 3. What have you tried or thought about trying in terms of solving it? 4. If you had a magic wand and could wave it over this entire situation, what would you wish for?
    The group is listening for alternative ways of stating the clients goals, starting with the words “How to………..”
    When at least ten alternate ways of stating the goal or problem have been generated by the group, the “client” gets to pick the goal that he / she wants the group’s help in coming up with ideas for achieving that goal.

    ONE final note: the Gripe to Goal, in Transactional Analysis terms (remember that model!!) moves from the Critical Parent, to the Nurturing Parent, to the Natural Child to the Adult. It taps the entire “personality” of the person who has the problem.

    Good luck. I encourage you to try the process on a couple of your own problems before you ever use it with a group. It is an excellent tool to use with a group that is tempted to fall into a “gripe” session.

    The assumption in all of this is that there is more than one way of stating a problem and there are LOTS of ways of solving them.

    Thanks for listening. Please contact me if you have any questions.

    Michael F. Murray


  8. rolandsullivan Says:

    and more from Earon

    Hi Joseph,
    I definitely atribute a lot to Milton. Milton was one of the first geniuses to be modeled in the history of this universe. I actually wasn’t responding to Roland’s coment on whole system transformation. I did attend a workshop he gave with Dannemiller at the OD conference in 2001 (although my memory is vague on it I loved it). It was standing room only crowd.

    But I first became familiar with the term “collapsing” when I was studying NLP in the 1980’s.
    The term was “collapsing anchors”. To re-familiarize yourself with collapsing anchors go here:

    In summary. collapsing anchors means to add a resource state to a problem state, to mix the two together. It is important to identify the problem state verbally (or have ascertained well enough what it is from listening). When the Kosovars came into the medical clinic to be screened for health, and then were sent to me to be screened for trauma, they would arrive in a family unit (let’s say from 4 to 8). Because Ialready knew where they had come from and some of the things that had happened to them (e.g., family members murderd, houses burned down, forced to mae long marches through the mountains under gunpoint, etc), I ws able to be warm and welcoming and also say “you have come from a very difficult time”. They would listen to my interpreter and nod their heads or say “yes, it’s been very difficult”. We have thus constructed a very basic anchor of the problem state. Identifying the state makes it real to some extent. It exists. I would then ask an AI type question. So what kept you going despite all of this difficulty? How did you make it? How did you survive this difficult time? (All vague language – no direct content). The answer was always either 1. the love of my family 2. god 3. what else can we do but survive.

    In response to either of those answers the practitioner can then pick another anchor and use it, e.g., a nodding head with the word “yes”. If you use this in coaching/therapy to an=chor strengths the nod and yes becomes a resourse. But the story of their experience is also a resource.

    Now to larger groups. This is a mini-case from the 2001 OD conference in Vancouver. It was post 9/11 and we discovered many OD consultants were having a difficult time, worried for their clients in post 9/11 USA (and Canada) etc. We saw it we heard it, we felt it. We were the organizers of the conference. Problem state identified. In Vancouver there is a tradition of inviting local natives to bless the event at the beginning because it occurs on their traditional lands. So, on the friday night opening the OD conference, the natives came and did a long blessing ceremony using ceday, burning smudge, drumming, oratory, etc. The native ceremony functioned as a powerful resource anchor, and most of us in attendance experienced by the end of the night that the entire energy taht entered the conference (very negative) shifted as the positive resource merged with it. Both anchors were collapsed and something new and powerful emerged. ( Roland comment: I was there. Yes, it was so powerful. I am personally learning about divine life from Larry one of the American Indian spiritual leaders here in MN. He wants me to help him use OD to Build Tribal Nations. )

    The above involved several hundred OD consultants. AI is another form of collapsing anchors without necessarily bringing the negative consciously into the room. But it is pesent in the unconsious (ot the unspoken).

    There is an NLP process called The Visual Squash. Learn that and additionally find the one taught by Tad James. tad’s approach uses the hierarchy of logical types. Basically you identy two parts, conflicting values in one person. Have each value (or part) be described very well. And then begin a process asking the question What do you suppose is part A’s purpose? You will get an answer. Contiue to respond to each answer with the question “For what purpose?”. This will take the person’s awareness further out into the universal vevel of value, usually ending in recognizing that each part or conflicting value exists out of love and ultimately wants the same for the person as the other. Also read the Bandler and Grinder book on refraaming. reframing with parts is a form of collapsing anchors. Once you know that kind of reframing, the visual squash and basic anchoring and how they collapse negativity and positivity, you can then develop your own style of
    using it with groups by inventing your own process techniques. Using the NLP frame of modeling with curiosity, you can also model Roland’s description of what he does, and perhaps model him in action, or an AI practitioner, and then invent your own stuff further.

    Another thing I learned, from Dian Marie Hosking, in inquiry, is that we want as practitioner to collapse epistemology (knowing) with ontology (living/ being). Think along those lines as well. Read “the end of knowing” by newman and holzman. Ontological knowing already exists in our lived experience. We just need to let it emerge and help persons become reflective practitioners about their own strength based experiential knowing. hope this is helpful. a lot of it is about how we think, how we approach a situation.

    Earon Kavanagh, PhD Graduate of the Taos/Tilburg University PhD program for Change Practitioners Graduate of the NTL Institute program in organization development

    — On Sun, 7/12/09, wrote:
    Thanks Earon

    I also am grateful for your sharing of the ‘collapse’ of the negative
    and the positive, and it takes me back exploring the use of NLP in OD.
    Would you attribute such too to Milton Erikson? How do you explain such
    at the level of the group? I thought your particular sharing of the
    ‘collpase’ was spurred on by Roland’s sharing of the DVF that
    Dannemiller used?

    Do write more on this, if it is not taking too much space and time,



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