The power of a positive lens in peace building and development

Designing Information and Organizations with a Positive Lens

ISBN: 978-0-7623-1287-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-398-3

ISSN: 1475-9152

Publication date: 18 December 2007


Drawing on recent, successful experience in Nepal, this paper traces the use of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in designing roles, structures, and processes to support the engagement of private-sector businesses and non-profit civic organizations in a peace-building response to the collapse of governance and the Maoist insurgency. Specific case illustrations are offered including: the design of grassroots peace building and development organizations; the need for continual redesign; the power of populist design; the positive design lens for micro-business and post-conflict development in Africa; and the positive design lens in global business. The paper concludes by asking what might be learned from this experience that might bring new hope to Africa, the Middle East, and other troubled corners of the globe. Some of the most important lessons identified include: (1) focusing information-gathering and decision-making conversations on the positive, on the successful, and on what works in resolving conflicts and promoting collaborative understanding, (2) designing conversations which identify windows of opportunity to build success on success, (3) creating dialogical structures which illuminate positive deviation and highlight exceptional experiences that have contributed to building trust, enhancing communications, resolving conflicts, and bridging cultures and viewpoints, and (4) streamlining social design processes such as AI, so that people at all levels can embrace them quickly, easily, and enthusiastically to bring about rapid and positive change.


Odell, M.J. and Mohr, B.J. (2007), "The power of a positive lens in peace building and development", Avital, M., Boland, R.J. and Cooperrider, D.L. (Ed.) Designing Information and Organizations with a Positive Lens (Advances in Appreciative Inquiry, Vol. 2), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 307-327.

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