"The task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths in ways that make a system’s weaknesses irrelevant"
-Peter Drucker, Professor, Claremont Graduate University and Management Consultant
A Strength-based workplace at a glance.
Try this short thought experiment. Imagine you are a hospital patient experiencing a “code” (emergency response team needed). Ask yourself which team you would prefer to have rushing into your room.
The first team is made up of good people (well-trained professionals; e.g., pharmacist, critical care nurse, doctor, chaplain, respiratory therapist, etc.). The members of this team have been assigned to work together for an entire month at a time. When a code is called during the assigned month, this team always responds together. As the month has progressed, the members of the first team have become increasingly comfortable and better working together. It is now three weeks into their month.
The second team is also made up of good people who have also been assigned to work together for a month at a time, just like the first team. However, the second team begins every day by meeting to discuss and practice how they will respond when the next code call comes in. And, each time they do care for a patient, they sit down together afterward and reflect about the care they provided. They also ask the patients and families about their experiences. They reflect as a team about what they do, visualizing, exploring, and testing how they could do an even better job next time, as a normal part of their work.
The third team has all the characteristics of the second team AND the team members (using insights from the VIA Character Survey) leverage their strengths to most effectively and efficiently improve:
One of Profound Conversations’ core approaches is The Importance of Questions & The Appreciative Approach. One of the questions I am often asked by clients is to explain what exactly I mean by the Appreciative Approach, why I use it – and how they can learn more.
I made them a summary – and I would like to share it with you.
Appreciative Inquiry & The Appreciative Approach
“We have two possibilities, we can look at what works or we can look at what doesn’t work – whatever we look for is what we are going to find”. – Marjorie Schiller, Phd
The Appreciative Approach is based on Appreciative Inquiry (AI).
AI offers a new, invigorating approach to dealing with the very real business issues you face. We focus on what gives energy, and support leaders, their teams, and their organizations on remembering and re-discovering themselves at their best.
Let’s contrast it briefly with the traditional approach: The traditional approach to change is often deficit-focused. It comes from the belief that organizations are problems that need to be solved. That all we need to do to “fix” the problem is to identify the root cause of failure and then develop and implement solutions to close the gap. Often, experts are called in to diagnose the problem and “prescribe” solutions.
Appreciative Inquiry’s new theory of change is that broad-based participation and collaboration focused on purposefully exploring for and enhancing that which gives life to an organization when it is performing at its best is much more effective and efficient in shaping the future. Or as David Cooperrider (the originator of AI) put it: “AI is an exciting way to embrace organizational change. Its assumption is simple: Every person, every team, every school, every organization has something that works right – things that give it life when it is most alive, effective, successful, and connected in healthy ways to its stakeholders and communities.”
Therefore, the Appreciative Approach means we direct our questions away from deficits and gaps. We focus instead on what gives energy, and support leaders, their teams, and their organizations on remembering and re-discovering themselves at their best. As a result, a powerful vision for, and commitment to, an energizing future emerges.
You can learn more about Appreciative Inquiry here. Or ask me a question via email or in the comment section below. I look forward to your feedback!