"When you face a situation and you don't know all the answers, curiosity allows you to be comfortable with that ambiguity, that uncertainty of not knowing what lies ahead."—Schar School Professor Tojo Thatchenkery
If there was ever a time that the world needed the ability to navigate ambiguity and reframe the uncertainties before us, it is now. The ability to do that is summed up in Schar School Professor Tojo Thatchenkery’s expertise in what is called “Appreciative Intelligence,” a way of thinking that is gaining traction.
Thatchenkery has made several recent public appearances, including a late May guest spot on the WERA-FM radio and internet program “Choose to Be Curious” with host Lynn Borton (listen) and an early June appearance on a webinar hosted by global higher education software firm Ellucian (watch).
Thatchenkery, who is director of the Schar School’s Master’s in Organization Development and Knowledge Management program (ODKM), describes Appreciative Intelligence as “the ability to find generative potential in the here and now.”
His book, Appreciative Intelligence: Seeing the Mighty Oak in the Acorn (Focus), was inspired by his studies of the information technology boom in Silicon Valley in the 1980s. Thatchenkery noticed that the people in the burgeoning high technology community had a different mindset, the ability to reframe situations and ideas to see possibilities as opposed to deficits. He also noticed the leadership in Silicon Valley was comfortable with ambiguity. That is a key connection to curiosity, Thatchenkery said.
Thatchenkery implores us not to allow the opportunity before us in these unprecedented times to pass, by allowing fear to drive us to look to traditional solutions to reduce ambiguity. Instead, develop the asset of curiosity and ask yourself, “How might I reframe this frustration into an opportunity?”
Learn more about the Schar School’s Master’s in Organization Development and Knowledge Management program.