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Goodness at Work

A group of 10 staff members designed an email based system and emergent network for expressing appreciation throughout the U of Michigan.

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Idea Title

Underground Goodness

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

please see above

Who are you innovating for?

all staff in an organization - both in the expressing of appreciation and the receiving of notes, (based in research of Adam Grant and Wayne Baker) and the benefit of participating in the group and as a result of being a part of something secret-ish.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

This idea developed in a university business school but could be applied across types of organizations.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

see above it would be helpful to have organizational support both to develop a more sophisticated system, to monitor and encourage participation and to experiment with different motivations and measure outcome. Measuring outcome by both new "joiners' and by participation (emails sent)

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

it is quite easy which is why we, with no authority or resources could initiate it. To experiment and explore a more robust model would however require some IT expertise and design and someone(s) to experiment with interventions and approaches to motivating participation and measuring outcome.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

see above description please

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

Determine where the breakdown is and discover "if they dont send why they dont send" Define and decide interventions to motivate participation. Describe and test varied motivations and measure outcome.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.
  • Prototyping: You have conducted some small tests or experiments with prospective users and will continue developing idea through these tests.
  • Piloting: You have started to implement your solution as a whole with a first set of real users. You may have started to develop a business model for your idea, including identifying key customer segments, relevant partnerships, go-to-market strategy, and draft financials.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

As one who had been experimenting with bringing the principles of positive organizational psychology to life a the University of Michigan I decided to gather a group and see what we could cook up around a more broadly created and influential system of spreading goodness throughout the Ross School of Business. I gathered a group of colleagues and we came up with this. The idea emerged as I was and am continually inspired by my mentors Bob Quinn, Kim Cameron, Jane Dutton and Gretchen Spreitzer.

Tell us about yourself

Jennifer Evans M.Ed., is an organizational change agent with 30 years’ of experience managing programs and developing people. In her "day job"at the UM RSB Jennifer is an administrative assistant who expresses her positive deviant nature on-the-side. The on-the-side activity emerged into her now passion, Positive Deviance Lab. You can get a feel here -

Where are you / your team located?

Ann Arbor Michigan

Company / Organization Name


Tell us about your experience

Jennifer Evans M.Ed., is an organizational change agent and motivational speaker with 30 years’ of experience managing programs and developing people. In her current "day job"at the UM Ross School of Business Jennifer expresses her positive deviant nature and uniquely influences her organization through activities based in the positive organizational psychology principles researched at Ross. Her passion for teaching and inspiring positive goodness has led her to create the Positive Deviance Lab.


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