Energizing Conversations

@ work & elsewhere


Return on Energy

Story telling has the power to transform

change resistant organizations.” ~~Steve Denning

Maureen (Mo) McKenna,
Certified Management Consultant

In this complex, interconnected, ever changing world, I believe my purpose is to serve, educate and energize individuals, organizations and communities.  I help clients to tap into unlimited positive human energy to fuel their actions, creating healthy working climates where people flourish and organizations grow and prosper in measurable and practical ways.  

I have extensive expertise in strengths-based approaches to strategic planning, large-scale change, community consultations, customer loyalty and employee engagement. I held management roles in manufacturing, service, distribution, marketing, total quality management (TQM) and human resources at Xerox Canada, and bring a wealth of practical experience to client engagements. 

My focus is helping clients change their mindsets in response to the disruptive paradigm shifts they are experiencing. I do this by bringing different perspectives to the discussion, broadening the understanding as well as continuously challenging people with what is most difficult to do:  shift their mental framework and align behaviours with their new perspective. I coach them to focus on having a non-anxious presence in this turbulent time. I challenge them to reframe from traditional problem solving to focusing on their strengths to create innovative and sustainable solutions. As a “learning partner” to clients, fellow consultants and professionals, I mentor and coach them to achieve extraordinary results.

I am a leader in Canada in the field of Appreciative Inquiry (AI). A Certified Management Consultant, a Collaborative Partner with the David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry, a strategic advisor to the Flourishing Leadership Institute and a graduate of the Adler International Learning coaching program.  I have applied and taught Appreciative Inquiry since 2000.

I am an active member of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association and in 2014 I was chair of the CPPA conference. 

The Launch of Return on Energy

In 2013, I saw the movie Chasing Ice, a documentary by James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey that depicts the ravages of climate change on our glaciers around the world. In one scene of a glacier calving, two researchers witness a 7.4 cubic kilometres piece of ice fall into the water in less than 75 minutes.  "The calving of a massive glacier believed to have produced the ice that sank the Titanic is like watching a city break apart.*
The movie caused me to question what could I do to help. In a moment of insight I could see a parallel experience of the urgency for climate change in the physical earth environment and the urgent need for climate change in our organizations and communities - the human world environment. I sensed that by helping people have conversations of possibilities, I could help generate healthy renewable energy to fuel the workplace and communities. 
(*Source: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chasing_Ice quote by  Dudek, Duane (2012), "Chasing ice pursues chilling evidence of climate change", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, retrieved 24 January 2014).

The Book That Brought Me from a TQM worldview to an Appreciative & Mindful worldview of work.

A key to creating a healthy organization or community is about daily practices of small decencies. 

In 1993, the corporation I had been part of since 1976 began downsizing and it was a painful and traumatic time in my career.  I came across this book written in 1992 about reflections and meditations on being human at work.  The author was a consultant and in the first chapter he talks about the inhuman way that people were being 'downsized'.  He acknowledged that difficult decisions must be made in business, they could be made in a more human way.  I wrote to the author John Cowan and he invited me to a workshop "Leadership and the Soul".  The experience felt very alien to me - I had been a quality specialist most of my career and this 'touchy feely' process of automatic writing felt strange.  However, I participated and wrote an essay that changed my life.  I wrote that the corporation that I was part of was metaphorically a plane and that I was sitting in a seat by the exit door and it was missing.  It was turbulent, noisy, windy as I sat and I was terrified, however, my past sky diving experience taught me that you must 'dive' out of the plane and if I could calm myself down, I could stay on that corporate plane and develop a parachute of new skills and talents.  When I was ready I would put on my colourful chute and joyfully jump to my own destination.

To view my diving experience go to:

How Not to Sky Dive.

Three months later, I became the lead Organizational Effectiveness Manager for Canada, working with the president and her team and six hundred head office staff.  I began a fabulous three year learning journey.  

We used the burning platform as the metaphor for change and incorporated all of our quality tools and techniques and the process failed.  In 1998 I left to start my own consulting firm and began the journey to discover ways to create change that engages and energizes human beings to be part of the process.  I pursued Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space and other large group processes.  Through Appreciative Inquiry I discovered Positive Psychology and then Positive Organizational Scholarship - all of which has helped to inform my practice.

A Little About My Clients

My clients all share a desire to  grow healthy and innovative organizations and/or communities.


I have worked with all sectors including corporate, healthcare, all levels of education, not for profits, all three levels of government.  I have worked in South Africa, UK and Canada.


My passion is helping my clients create strong relationships between the all the generations that co-exist in our workplace today.

Just as the external climate crisis is the result of using toxic sources of energy, our internal environment is becoming toxic as energy is sourced through fear, shortage and deficit mindsets. I believe, we must change the way we interact with others in our personal and professional lives. I believe there is a yearning to be in a safe space where deep listening, sharing stories of our fears and our loves can happen. When we can appreciate our divergent views and discover where we are like-hearted, then we are ready to create a shared vision of the future that we will all work to make happen. 

At a time when there is a growing need to draw upon people to be innovative and creative, there is in many organizations and communities a shortage of human energy to fuel this growing need. Appreciative Inquiry is a new operating system that will address these issues directly.  The AIR framework is a great APP (Appreciative Powerful Practice) that can be used to guide a conversation or design an engagement.

A Little About Me

A native of Glasgow, Scotland, I came to Canada when I was 19 and I am proud to be Scottish and Canadian. 

I love travelling, learning, jazz, and being spontaneous – “playing with the mess”, if you will.  I have two great nephews who bring me joy and encourage me to pursue my hobbies. 

Writing is my new hobby. I have had a story published in the  Anthology of Totally Unknown Writers - Pink Steel Toed Shoes. It is a compilation of stories from my experience of being the first female manager in manufacturing back in the early 1980s.   "Maureen “Mo” McKenna trades in her high heels and cushy executive digs at head office for a pair of pink steel-toed shoes and a grey portable office behind some racks in a manufacturing plant. In an environment where managers and employees alike are accustomed to male supervisors—sparks fly!"

While Toronto is my home,  my extensive travels, warm demeanor, sense of humour, infectious energy (so I have been told) and inquisitive nature help me feel at home wherever I hang my hat.

Why Engage Return on Energy (ROE)?

If you need to increase engagement, collaboration, creativity and innovation in your organization. 


Are looking for ways to avoid burnout by creating a psychological safe work climate.

I and my strategic partners can help you.