Caryn Vanstone

MSc Organisation Consulting

As a Business Director at Ashridge Consulting, Caryn led award winning change and leadership projects for Corporates such as O2 UK, BBC, GlaxoSmithKline, Siemens, and the NHS.  Now an Associate, she leads large scale, global culture change projects.  She has been a member of Faculty on the Masters in Organisational Change programme since 2000.

Caryn worked in the post-privatisation UK water industry, 1990-1998.  She managed projects including outsourcing, JVs, customer centricity, IT system change and major restructuring and downsizing programmes.  

Caryn’s work centres on the application of complexity theory, relational psychology and sociology, and in methodologies such as Appreciative Inquiry and, most recently, “ante-fragile” and “nudge” ideas.  She is also skilled in process design, applying elements of Lean and Theory of Constraints.  She has become a leading practitioner of “applied improvisation” (drawing on jazz/theatre improvisation) and “rapid prototyping” approaches, helping “stuck” organisations increase speed, local accountability, creativity, sustainability while reducing cost, waste and bureaucracy.

Caryn Vanstone


Appreciative Inquiry

Vanstone, C. (2007) Essential Techniques for Employee Engagement, Appreciative Inquiry pp. 27 - 56, Melcrum publishing

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Revitalizing Corporate Values in Nokia

Vanstone, C. (2007) Revitalizing Corporate Values in Nokia, in Lewis, S., Passmore, J. & Cantore, S. (eds) Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management - Using AI to Facilitate Organisational Development, Kogan Page

Better Place at O2

O2 UK selectedAshridge Consulting as its partner in enabling a culture change that would encourage staff in shops and call centres to live o2's brand values, making the customer experience as good as it could be. Project leader Caryn Vanstone tells the story that recently reached the finals of the Management Consultancies Association case study competition, being shortlisted in the Innovation category.

Vanstone, C. (2007) Better Place at O2, Converse, Issue 5, pp. 3-5

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A Unique Partnership for Success

In September 2003, the first group of BBC managers began to experience the BBC Leadership Programme with Ashridge. This was the start of a unique leadership and cultural development initiative aimed at enlivening creativity, accountability and trust.

Vanstone, C. (2006) A Unique Partnership for Success, Converse

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Re-Energising the Spirit of Winning at American Express

The work described in this article is one of the core investments in the four years following 9/11 that has enabled AMEX to rediscover it's strength and will to win.

Vanstone, C. (2006) Re-Energising the Spirit of Winning at American Express, Converse, pp.14-15, April

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Working with a Complexity Perspective

Vanstone, C. (2006) Working with a Complexity Perspective, in Critchley, B. & Higgins, J. (eds) Field Research into the Practice of Relational Consulting, Ashridge

Appreciative Inquiry and Global Organisational Change

Vanstone, C. (2005) Appreciative Inquiry and Global Organisational Change, Erhvervspsykologi (Danish Organisational Development Journal), Vol. 3, No. 1, March.

Appreciative Inquiry in Organisations

Stories and practices are spreading on both sides of the Atlantic about how AI can release the potential in organisations. Caryn Vanstone explains what Appreciative Inquiry is and how it developed and outlines a framework around which AI interventions can be planned.

Vanstone, C. (2005) Appreciative Inquiry in Organisations, Converse, pp.8-10, June.

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Culture Change and Corporate Values at Nokia

Vanstone, C. (2004) Culture Change and Corporate Values at Nokia, Global Appreciative Inquiry Conference , Miami, September.

Spirit of Appreciation

In this third and final article in the Appreciation Inquiry (AI) series, Caryn Vanstone explores how Tim Haynes, an internal consultant at BP, is moving beyond methods and orthodoxies by using the 'spirit' of AI in his work. She illuminates some of the key theoretical propositions that separate AI from other approaches to human change. AI is fundamentally based on a way of thinking known as Social Constructionism. Social Constructionists believe all observation and perception of reality is filtered through our own stories, belief and value systems and theoretical 'lenses'. It was Haynes' instinct to use an approach that put people together in a co-inquiry. This would not have been so effective if outsiders had undertaken the inquiry (appreciative or otherwise) and then fed back the results to the workforce (a common but dysfunctional application of AI). It is the act of participative co-inquiry located within the population itself that creates the change.

Vanstone, C. & Haynes, T. (2004) Spirit of Appreciation, Training Magazine, September.

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Appreciating Values

In September 2002, Nokia's board considered a proposal on Appreciative Inquiry (AI) that would involve cross sections of the entire organisation. There would be structured conversations purposely focused on concrete success stories to generate passion, commitment, and action. In essence, rather than train the organisations in its values, there would be an inquiry into where the values were already most alive. The proposal generated a positive response. There are several different methods associated with AI. The 4D cycle is probably the most well known and used. It comprises: 1. discovery phase, 2. dream phase, 3. design phase, and 4. destiny phase. Different organisations and situations demand different approaches. Nokia's core team decided on a structured, high-profile approach - which involved a large scale summit based on the 4D cycle.

Vanstone, C. & Dalbiez, B. (2004) Appreciating Values, Training Magazine, 1 July.

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Affirmative Action

Workplaces in the US, Northern Europe and the UK tend to exist within a culture where 'problem-based' development approaches to learning tend to outnumber 'affirming' ones. There is a widely-held assumption in Western culture that improvement comes primarily from the eradication of defect or error. This approach of informed criticism and constructive problem solving has indeed exposed important flaws, and led to huge progress in countless domains. Westerners have become so focused on solving problems that the negative things are often the ones noticed first. People rarely look into the reasons for 'rightness' in the same way that they enquire rigorously when things go wrong. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is not the "Positive Thinking" movement. AI can be defined as the art of discovering and valuing those factors that 'give life' to an organisation, group, individual or relationship.

Vanstone, C. (2004) Affirmative Action, Training Magazine, 1 June.

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Passion, Freedom and Results at Halfords

Transforming its brand was only the beginning for Halfords. Caryn Vanstone of Ashridge Consulting and John Pedley of Halfords examine how real change has to run much deeper to let loose passion, freedom and results.

Vanstone, C. (2003) Passion, Freedom and Results at Halfords, Innovations,pp 31-35.

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