APPRECIATIVE INTELLIGENCE: a new form of intelligence to develop

Howard Gardner, a psychologist and professor at Harvard, has developed the theory of multiple intelligences: intelligence is not a single, universal ability, but different kinds of minds learn, memorize, perform, and understand in different ways.  According to his theory, there are at least 7 kinds of intelligence: visual-spatial, kinesthetic, linguistic, musical (sensitivity to rhythms and sounds), logical-mathematical, intrapersonal and interpersonal.

Afterwards, Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of the successful book Emotional Intelligence, tells us about another kind of intelligence, which looks like a combination of intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence, and more recently, of the social intelligence.
And so here we are today with appreciative intelligence, which is in a way a meta-intelligence that elevates and expands the intelligence of the variety of known intelligences and mobilizes them for the purpose of creating and building.

This skill is associated with creativity, innovation, leadership and success. It enables people to achieve their goals despite challenges and obstacles, to solve problems more creatively, to discover more innovative solutions, to bring out the best in themselves and others, to find fulfillment, happiness and appreciation where they did not see it before.

For the company, appreciative intelligence can lead to higher levels of innovation for a competitive advantage, more productive and satisfied employees, and greater adaptability to change.

Appreciative intelligence is a term derived from the research of Tojo Thatchenkery and Carol Metzker, which they describe as the ability to perceive the inherent generative positive potential of a given situation and to act consciously to transform that potential into a tangible result. Thatchenkery uses the metaphor: “Seeing the mighty oak in the acorn” (perceive the mighty oak in the glans).

This ability is more than optimism. People with appreciative intelligence are realistic and action-oriented. They not only have the ability to identify the positive potential, but also determine an action plan to maximize it.

There are three main components of appreciative intelligence:
– the ability to reframe a situation to recognize the positive possibilities (half full glass / half empty glass)
– the ability to appreciate the positive side
– the ability to view the future from a present not always promising or obvious
The main qualities that are put into practice: persistence, the belief that one’s actions make sense, tolerance for uncertainty and resilience.

People with appreciative intelligence see the possibilities, not just the limits. They know how to appreciate the best of a situation and a person. They ask, “How can I make it work? She sees the global portrait and the connections between the different elements to create a new solution. As they accept ambiguity, they have the patience to persevere without knowing all the answers.

This intelligence has existed since the dawn of time, but has not always been recognized as such.

Asa Candler, the creator of Coca-Cola, saw the potential of a popular soft drink from the failure of a drug for headaches. He cropped the health product into a beverage, focused on the appreciation of his good taste and set in motion the multi-billion-dollar Coca-Cola business today.

After the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990, many saw the defective mirror as a stunning failure. Charles Pellerin, the team leader, reframed in a project that was not yet finished what everyone saw as the failure of a finished product. He knew how to recognize the potential of a present situation (what worked) and a positive future (the repaired telescope). He envisioned the positive and orchestrated outcome of technical solutions (an optical fix and a repair done by a team of astronauts) and financial (redistribution of funds and resources already existing at NASA).The result: spectacular images and important cosmic discoveries.

If we all started practicing appreciative intelligence, imagine the positive changes that would occur in our lives and in the culture of our organizations!

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