Our Earthshot Moment: Net Positive OD for the Creation of a World of Full Spectrum Flourishing

Our Earthshot Moment: Net Positive OD

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Authors: David Cooperrider and Lindsey Godwin
Publication: Organization Development Review, Vol. 54, No. 1

Click here to download the full article

Abstract: The article discusses the potential of “mission economics” to address global challenges, especially the climate crisis, and to create a future of comprehensive flourishing. It emphasizes the need for expanding human systems’ collaborative change capacity and positions Organizational Development (OD) at a pivotal moment. The authors introduce concepts like “full-spectrum flourishing,” “net positive OD,” and “positive institutions,” and advocate for a new vision and agenda for OD to deliver the large-scale change urgently needed. They illustrate this with examples of organizations leading the way in positive change.

Introduction: The introduction sets the context of the “earthshot” moment, a critical decade requiring radical actions to regenerate our environment and address converging global crises. The authors reflect on OD’s historical roots and its foundational figures, highlighting the field’s current relevance and creativity. They argue that OD, with its values of inclusive change and systemic improvement, is uniquely positioned to lead the global mission of creating a flourishing future for all.

Key Concepts:

  1. Earthshot OD: Inspired by the “moonshot” initiatives, Earthshot OD aims to address the climate crisis and establish a regenerative economy. It emphasizes the urgency of collaborative change to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a net zero economy by 2050.
  2. Full Spectrum Flourishing: This concept envisions a world where organizations and economies thrive, people are well, and nature flourishes across generations.
  3. Net Positive OD: This approach focuses on creating organizations that positively impact all stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, communities, customers, and the environment. The guiding question is: “How is the world better off because your organization is in it?”
  4. Micro to Macro-OD: This framework expands OD’s impact from internal organizational change (micro) to broader societal and global transformations (macro), emphasizing systemic change capacities.
  5. Mirror Flourishing Effect: The positive feedback loop that occurs when organizations help stakeholders flourish externally, thereby enhancing internal flourishing and engagement.

Our Earthshot Moment: Net Positive OD for the Creation of a World of Full Spectrum Flourishing
Click here to download the full article

Key Findings:

  1. Positive Institutions: These are organizations that elevate human strengths and magnify their positive impact on society, ultimately leading to a world of full-spectrum flourishing. Examples include Patagonia and National Grid US, which extend their internal OD practices to foster broader community and environmental benefits.
  2. Macro-OD: This concept focuses on the external impact of organizations, facilitating the creation of positive institutions. Macro-OD aims to exponentially mobilize systemic change capacities. For instance, Patagonia’s platform connects customers to environmental causes, and National Grid US convenes communities to collaboratively envision sustainable futures.
  3. Mirror Flourishing Effect: This effect describes the reinforcing loop of flourishing that occurs when organizations’ external initiatives for full-spectrum flourishing simultaneously enhance their internal well-being. This results in a positive feedback loop, benefiting both the organization and its stakeholders.

Main Arguments:

  • The authors argue that we are at a critical juncture, a “Lewinian-like watershed moment” in OD, where the field can significantly contribute to solving global issues.
  • They emphasize the importance of OD in fostering large-scale, collaborative change and creating positive institutions that can drive sustainable development and regeneration.

Illustrations and Examples:

  • The article provides examples of industry leaders and successful initiatives where organizations have implemented net positive OD practices.
  • It discusses the Appreciative Inquiry approach and its role in engaging stakeholders in meaningful and transformative ways.

Call to Action: Cooperrider and Godwin call on OD professionals to embrace this earthshot moment by adopting net positive strategies and leveraging their expertise to drive systemic change. They highlight the need for OD to scale up its impact and to think globally while acting locally.

Conclusion: The article concludes by emphasizing the significant opportunity for OD practitioners to contribute to large-scale systemic change. It calls for bold actions and innovative practices to create a world of full-spectrum flourishing. The authors highlight the importance of embracing this earthshot moment and working together to achieve the ambitious goals of comprehensive human and environmental well-being. They underscore that macro-OD might be the most powerful form of micro-OD, as the pursuit of external positive impact directly enhances internal organizational health.

About IOD

Institute of Organization Development offers online OD Certification Programs to develop leaders in the field of OD.  For over 23 years, IOD has worked with organizations worldwide to promote the field of  OD and to utilize the practices to create large-scale change.  We have partnered with other OD Professionals in many countries to bring OD to organizations in their countries to improve social welfare, government, and economics. 

Please check out this week’s lineup of special speakers, giveaways, scholarships and more in the Global OD Certification Week, May 19-24th, 2024

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