Leadership and organizational change, at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health, is taught through active learning modules using an adaptation of the Organization Development (OD) inquiry method of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to guide analyses of “real life” leadership practices and leading change cases. AI has four phases, i.e., Discovery (discovering the best of what is), Dream (imagining the best of what could be), Design (designing what will be) and Destiny (making the new design become reality). The heart of AI is the “unconditionally positive question” focusing on strengths and possibilities. For example, in analyzing a leadership practice against Kouzes and Posners’ research-based standards, one could ask, “In what ways did this leader most effectively ‘challenge the process’?”, followed by, “How could this leader transform their leadership practices to increase their effectiveness at ‘challenging the process’?” Such questions are asked for each of the five key leadership practices, and for the eight stages in leading change (Kotter). These questions delve into discovery and dream phases, and are followed by “design” questions, e.g., “Which are the top three areas where improvement in their leadership practices would have the biggest impact on improving their leadership effectiveness?” The data from such questions suggests individualized leadership learning agendas. The “destiny” phase is about a leader’s personal implementation, and isn’t included in our AI adaptation. This AI-guided analysis is used by each student to develop and submit two extensive papers which they also present to their peers and instructors for discussion. These are complemented by a prepared case study of a major leadership and change intervention, interactive exercises regarding emotional intelligence and most effective/least effective leader correlations, a values clarification exercise, and personal experience critical incident reports. Student feedback, particularly on the AI-guided learning experiences on leadership practices and leading change, have been consistently positive.
|Keywords:||Leadership, Organizational Change, Active Education, Appreciative Inquiry, Case Development and Analysis|
Professor and Project Lead, Leadership and Organizational Change Studies Initiative, Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Associate Dean for Education and Associate Professor, School of Dental Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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