Michigan Ross’ Center for Positive Organizations celebrates 100th session of Positive Links

October 6, 2015

When Michigan Ross professors Kim Cameron, Jane Dutton, and Bob Quinn launched the Positive Links Speaker Series in 2002, the goal was to create a platform where their area of research could be accessible to the public in inspiring and practical ways. At the time, the study and practice of positive organizations was unfamiliar territory in academia, and certainly unheard of in the mainstream. It was a small fish in a large pond, and many scholars didn’t understand its importance.

Positive Links began as a brown-bag lunch event in a classroom, with mere discussion and an audience consisting mainly of business leaders. As the Center for Positive Organizations (CPO) hosts the series’ 100th session Oct. 13, the audience is now a large, diverse mix of business leaders, students, researchers, faculty and staff, and a reception where they can all connect afterwards.

One hundred sessions is a milestone for CPO, the leading institution for positive organizational scholarship. Founded in 2002, CPO is a research center located at Ross that promotes and encourages positive leadership through articles, books, partnerships, events, tools, and more. Positive organizational scholarship is the heart of CPO and this has been recognized by academia, organizations, and practitioners globally. The center was the recipient of The Academy of Management’s Joanne Martin Trailblazer Award in 2010 and the Research Center Impact Award in 2012 for its efforts in this field. CPO’s mission is to build high-quality, viable organizations that bring out the best in people. Events like Positive Links illustrate how CPO is committed to bringing about change not just on campus and Ann Arbor, but also on a global scale. As such, the event will be livestreamed on Ross’ YouTube channel.

For Quinn, one of the co-founders of CPO and the featured speaker of the 100th session of Positive Links, seeing the evolution has been nothing short of extraordinary.

“I remember the first one, and at the time it was unimaginable there would be 100 of these,” he says. “All the wisdom and power in these talks, it’s humbling. It’s symbolic of what it’s been all about.”

Positive organizational scholarship (POS) has transformed into one of the most popular areas of research in higher education. And it all started at the Ross School of Business under the guidance of Cameron, Dutton, and Quinn. In the 13 years since its inception, Positive Links has featured 90 of the world’s top scholars and practitioners who provide research-based strategies leaders can use to build high-performing organizations and employee engagement.

Quinn’s session, “Change the Music – Change the Dance: How to Turn Organizations Positive,” will explore how business leaders are inextricably linked to their employees.  He suggests that behavior is the dance. The state of the leader is the music.  Most managers try to change behavior by focusing on the behavior. They don’t think to focus on the music that drives the dance. Values drive leadership behavior which gives rise to culture and climate which gives rise to engagement and behavior. It all starts with the moral condition of the leader.  

He hopes that his presentation, along with the other sessions, will inspire and invoke a spark in attendees’ minds to adopt new organizational tactics that will, in turn, benefit the world.

Michigan Ross’ Center for Positive Organizations will host the 100th session of the Positive Links Speaker Series on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. in Robertson Auditorium, located on the first floor of the Ross building.

A reception will immediately follow. It is open and free to the public.

To RSVP or for more information, visit Bob Quinn’s session page here.