One of the later topics we covered in Leadership is called “Appreciative Inquiry.” I had noted that I really liked this topic, and that when I had time I wanted to post my thoughts about it. In the mean time, we had a week off of classes and I worked on some other topics of interest. One thing I did during my time off, is that I took the Gallup Strength Finders assessment, which I will do an entire post on later. One thing this assessment revealed about me (for those who know me this will come as no surprise) is that one of my strengths is my positivity. I just don’t think it is worth my energy to be negative about things. It certainly has never improved a situation I’ve encountered. And so back to this Appreciative Inquiry. As I sat down to write out my thoughts on this technique, I re-read the definition. “Appreciative Inquiry engages individuals, teams, or the entire organization in creating change by reinforcing positive messages and focusing on learning from success.” The passage goes on to explain that this technique is not about focusing on what is wrong or who is to blame, but to consider the possible. Of course positive Joelle like this.
People often scoff at positive people calling them Pollyana and claiming that they are unaware of, and therefore at risk from, potential problems. But I argue that, at least in my case, I am aware of the possible issues and I deal with them when necessary, I just don’t feel the need to focus on them and give them energy when I don’t have to. I think of it like smiling and frowning, anatomists tell us that frowning takes more energy than smiling, so why waste my energy?
Back to Appreciative Inquiry. The technique uses four steps. The first step, discovery, is about identifying what is good, what works, what makes you proud. The next step is about dreaming, how would thing look if they were even better, what is the vision? To get to the vision, the next step is to design a plan to achieve that state. Finally, this change must be sustained. Sustaining takes effort. The universe is full of examples that demonstrate that you must grow or you will shrink. Getting to this “could be” state will take effort getting there and effort to maintain, but wouldn’t we all like to reach the potential we dream of?
If you find yourself thinking that AI is a great method for “someone else” and that a company can be successful without it, I’ll mention another study I was reading today. Collins and Porras, in 1996, wrote a paper based on their study of the most successful companies in the world. The paper, Building your Company’s Vision, discusses how each of these companies have a few things in common. One is a core ideology and a clear vision of a future where they are successful, but not just generally successful, audaciously successful. The difference between generally successful companies and the highest success companies was this ability to envision a grand goal and to believe in their ability to reach it. Sounds a lot like the future vision one might form if you used the positive techniques in Appreciative Inquiry. Just my thought…