You've probably heard of Emotional Intelligence, Social Intelligence and Howard Gartners's Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Now, Tojo Thatchenkery and Carol Metzker describe Appreciative Intelligence in their new book, "Appreciative Intelligence: Seeing the mighty oak in the acorn".
Thatchenkery describes AI as:
"Appreciative Intelligence is the ability to perceive the positive inherent generative potential in a given situation and to act purposively to transform the potential to outcomes. In other words, it is the ability to reframe a given situation to recognize the positive possibilities embedded in it but not apparent to the untrained eye, and to engage in the necessary actions so that the desired outcomes unfold from the generative aspects of the current situation.
The entrepreneurial environment in the Silicon Valley facilitated the full expression of appreciative intelligence. Seeing a situation from multiple perspectives allowed the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to deal with obstacles with courage and resilience. They reframed situations to recognize opportunities and acted decisively to transform their dreams to reality. Because they could see how the desired future unfolded from the present (perception of possibilities), they had the capacity to face adversity. High appreciative intelligence predisposed them to see the larger picture and the connections between diverse elements. They could shift their cognitive frames to see possibilities, not just boundaries. Due to their higher capacity to embrace ambiguity they had the patience to persevere without knowing all the answers.
Appreciative intelligence provides a new answer to what enables successful people to dream up their extraordinary and innovative ideas; why employees, partners, colleagues, investors, and other stakeholders join them on the path to their goals, and how they achieve these goals despite obstacles and challenges. It is not simple optimism. People with appreciative intelligence are realistic and action-oriented—they have the ability to not just identify positive potential but to devise a course of action to take advantage of it. " www.appreciativeintelligence.com
"The definition of Appreciative Intelligence (term coined by Tojo Thatchenkery) is the ability to perceive the positive inherent generative potential within the present. Put simply and metaphorically, it is the ability to see the mighty oak in the acorn. Successful leaders and innovators see more than a little capped nut that some of us might just step over; they see the possibilities for a strong, healthy tree with further generations of oaks and acorns. Appreciative Intelligence has three components:
1) reframing - seeing situations, people or things in a new way - so that something good is visible
2) appreciating what is good (in that person or situation), and
3) envisioning how what is good now can grow into a great future.
Appreciative Intelligence and Appreciative Inquiry are not the same things, although they both focus on what is valuable or positive. Appreciative Intelligence is a mental ability found in an individual, whereas Appreciative Inquiry is an approach and methodology for strengthening organizations. If a leader with high Appreciative Intelligence uses Appreciative Inquiry, you can expect wonderful changes that are sustaining and significant.' -
Tojo claims that innovation is critical business success, especially for professional service firms like law firm. Firms must have people with high Appreciative Intelligence in order to see opportunities, recognizing what is good and unique about the opportunities, and understanding the steps required to turn the opportunities into reality. Entrepreneurs have this ability, but is rarely found in risk-adverse law firms. While there are some lawyers with high AI, many of them have either left large law firms or avoided them in the first instance, leveraging their J.D. in a start up company or venture capital firm where they can be more innovative, creative, and see a business concept through to the end.
Law firm leaders need to recognize those attorneys (and staff) with high AI, and connect them with research and development projects such as launching new cross-discipline industry groups, non-legal subsidiaries and consulting services, and other entrepreneurial pursuits. High AI attorneys can help a law firm develop ancilliary services and value-added legal services that help the law firm differentiate themselves from others.
Case in point: Holland & Hart, a Denver-based law firm, has several ancillary services - all launched and grown by high AI attorneys: