Core Concepts | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

The Fowler Center’s projects, education programs, and corporate products are informed by its two core concepts: Appreciative Inquiry and Sustainable Value.

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry emerged at the Weatherhead School in the 1980s as David Cooperrider and Ron Fry discovered the power of positive inquiry for igniting innovation and whole-system change. Their concept of AI has become a global movement with tens of thousands of practitioners on six continents—all working to:

  • identify the unique strengths of individuals, businesses, and systems, and
  • to leverage and unite those strengths to greater effect throughout whole systems.

Sustainable Value

Watch Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior Chris Laszlo, talk about embedding sustainability in core business activities.
Sustainable Value is defined by Professor of Organizational Behavior, Chris Laszlo, PhD, as a dynamic state that occurs when a company creates ongoing value for its shareholders and stakeholders. By 'doing good' for society and the environment, the company does even better for its customers and shareholders than it otherwise would.

The shift from shareholder value to Sustainable Value is the natural outcome of a new external environment characterized by declining natural resources, radical transparency, and rising expectations. Sustainable Value is not just a better environmental strategy; it is a response to a radically different market reality in which the economic, ecological, and social spheres are unified into a single integrated value creation space.

Together, the concepts of Appreciative Inquiry and Sustainable Value answer the challenge of business today: to generate wealth while strategically addressing the pressures of multiple stakeholders, increasing competition, and ever-greater resource limitations.