Introducing The Positive Organisational Development Cards

The Positive Organisational Development Cards each cover a key concept from the field of positive psychology. 

The concepts reflect key findings from positive psychology research of things that make a positive difference to organisational life. Each card lists the benefits of the concept, provides three questions to stimulate discussion, and is followed by three pointers for development. Each is introduced briefly below, arranged in four groups, to help you follow them and get an idea of any you aren't familiar with as well as to help explain them to your audiences.


Presence Concepts (or Strengths) - Blue

Employee Engagement is positively related to: wellbeing and attendance, employee retention, effort and performance, quality, sales performance, income and turnover, profit, customer satisfaction, shareholder return, business growth, and success. According to research, only 19% of employees are highly engaged at work. For an engaged employee, job performance matters.

High Quality Connections are conversations that are generative in nature, affirming and life enhancing. They boost motivation, trust, innovation and information flow. They are particularly important for people who are excluded from more purposeful 'bonding or socialising activities’ e.g. causal workers, temps, interns - boosting stickiness and motivation to perform

Positive Energy Networks are mutually energizing, motivating and affirming, with a particular positive and affirming person as the node point. They are generative, they add value. Being part of such a network is highly motivating, encouraging individual commitment, performance and resilience.

Flow is the psychological state experienced when challenge and skill are sufficiently matched in an area of interest to produce complete task absorption. When 'in flow' people are working at their best, using all their abilities to achieve the task. Flow states are highly motivating.

We are displaying Mindfulness when we are paying attention in the moment to our internal state or the external world. Mindfulness and attentiveness require being present in the moment. They enhance the quality of interpersonal interactions and the thoughtfulness of decision making. In the mindless state induced by efficient routines, we can miss important signs of change.                  


Collective Concepts (or Strengths) - Green

Social Capital is the hidden capital of group relationships. Social capital releases the potential of investment capital. Social capital affects trust and information flow, and speed of adaptation. It is a basic requirement for a flexible, flourishing organization. High social capital promotes organisational resilience.

Collective Intelligence draws on the accumulated resourcefulness of the whole organization. Within organisations there is a huge, intelligence held by the whole workforce, not just a select few. In today's competitive world relying on a few key people for knowledge, innovation and decision-making is ineffective.

The degree of Connectivity amongst a group is a measure of their alignment. High connectivity promotes self-organization amongst a group, which reduces management cost. Well-connected organisations exhibit lower level, faster, better problem solving and decision-making. High performing teams demonstrate high connectivity.

Four key states characterise people's Psychological Capital: hope, optimism, self-efficacy, and resilience. Together these affect performance and satisfaction. Because these are states rather than traits they can be learnt, as can the ability to self-create them. These states are related particularly to motivation and performance at work.

Resilience refers to the ability to bounce-back from adversity. Resilience contributes to post-traumatic growth. Resilient people find sources of positive emotion even in difficult or upsetting situations. Resilient people and organisations are able to return to a functioning, productive state quicker following trauma or adversity.



Cultural Strengths - Pink

The Abundance Bridge includes excellence, exceptional performance, generosity, brilliant and benevolence. Flourishing organizations invest in building their abundance bridge as well as closing their deficit gap. While attending to the deficit gap prevents unacceptable performance, attention to the abundance bridge promotes exceptional performance.

Authentic Leadership is made up of four key attributes: openness, integrity, self-reflection and balanced judgement, that underlie surface style differences. Life experiences are more important than innate abilities in achieving formal leadership positions: leaders are made. Authenticity is a key defence against corrosive, demoralising organisational cynicism.

Positive Deviance is about learning from success and building towards excellence. It means paying organisational attention to building the abundance bridge as well as to lessening the deficit gap. Positive Deviance is one of the attributes identified as distinguishing flourishing organisations. Very few organisations really pay attention to learning from their successes.

Virtuous Practices are strengths such as patience, helpfulness, gratitude, appreciation, forgiveness, and humility that characterize the most successful and life enhancing places to work. Strong patterns of virtuous behaviour are a distinguishing feature of flourishing organizations. People are inspired by the virtuous behaviour of others, creating virtuous spirals of mutual benefit and increasing social capital.

Flourishing is a state of growth and abundance. Flourishing organisations exhibit positive deviance, affirmative bias and virtuous behaviour. Flourishing individuals experience positive emotions, engagement or flow, meaning, positive relationships and accomplishment. Flourishing organisations and individuals are likely to be more successful.                           


Appreciative Strengths - Yellow

To experience Affirmation is to be valued for who you are and what you bring. When we are affirmed we see ourselves reflected positively in the eyes of others. Affirmation aids personal growth. Affirmation is nourishment for the soul. Affirming the best in people, teams and organisations enhances performance.           

Appreciative Inquiry understands the organisation as a living system and develops it through growing more of the best. Appreciative Inquiry offers a positive psychology approach to organisational development. By working with the whole system, Appreciative Inquiry creates rapid, coordinated, energised change.                                

Generativity is a source of change: new, compelling ideas, generated by the group, garner commitment and energy. Generativity occurs when people come together: combining knowledge, inspiring each other and creating new possibilities and generating energy for action. High quality interactions promote generativity                                              

Positive Emotions include things like pride, joy, interest, serenity, awe, and excitement. When feeling good people are more likely to be creative, engage with others, manage complexity, be tenacious, and deal with ambiguity and novel information. The magic ratio of positive to negative experiences is 3:1 or above.

Strengths are the natural abilities developed over your life course. Using strengths feels effortless and highly engaging and energizing. Strengths underpin many aspects of performance at work. They are the source of motivation, development, high performance. Strengths are the most efficient source of excellence                 


More information on all of these concepts can be found in Lewis S (2011) Positive Psychology at Work. Wiley Blackwell, as well as many other positive psychology books.