While we recognise that in general happiness is a crucial ingredient of well-being and health, happiness is not valued to the same extent by everyone. For some people it is a ‘nice to have’ while for others it is the stuff of life, a state to which they constantly aspire. Goal pursuit theory suggests that if we value something and actively pursue it we should experience more of it. So if we value happiness and pursue it, so we should experience more of it. However, there is a sting in the tail…
Forgiveness has an image problem. Asked to forgive people say: ‘but I can’t forget what they did’ or ‘I can’t imagine ever being friends again’ or ‘but I want them punished.’ These responses show a confusion between forgiveness, reconciliation, forgetting and justice.
Earlier this month I attended the Global Strengthscope Practitioner Conference in London. A wonderful and inspiring conference where completely unexpectedly I was presented with the 2017 conference ‘Outstanding Contribution to Positive Work Practices Award.’ I was delighted and honoured and it got me thinking about what we have achieved so far in bringing positive work practices into the workplace and what we have yet to achieve,
I have recently come across a great paper about human energy, it is referenced at the end of this piece. It set me thinking about what it was saying in relation to Appreciative Inquiry. These are my thoughts.
We know it's important, where does it come form?
One of the most successful men I know grew up in the roughest streets of Bristol, and shared a cramped bedroom with his five brothers until he could leave the family home and ‘escape’ to his second choice university. Now a multi-millionaire cabinet minister, each of his milestones made it more and more apparent that his success was no simple stroke of luck.
There were no useful networks that his working class parents were a part of, there was no private school education to teach social poise; but there was drive that came from great ambition and pure determination.
In the last twenty years a new understanding of organizations has been developed, understanding them as living human systems of enterprise and creativity. It offers as an alternative to the dominant view of organizations as large and complicated machines of production. Methodologies based on this understanding, for instance Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space, World Café and SimuReal, allow the whole of the organizational domain to be approached from the living human system perspective. They allow us to address all organizational challenges from recruitment to redundancy within the same living human system frame. Four key factors underpin this approach.
Unclear objectives are sometimes unavoidable, the dangers and how to avoid as learned in Bosnia
Brief account of the book
The book has noble, honourable and inspiring intentions: it offers holocracy as a ‘new operating system’ for organizations that will create a ‘peer-to-peer distributed authority system’. This operating system creates empowered people who are clear about the boundaries of their authority, about what they can expect from others, and are able to be highly effective in their roles.
So Why Do We Need To Do Change Differently
1. Because the old ways are too slow and hard
Traditionally change has been a top-down, linear, compliance process; first designed and then implemented. In today’s fast paced world this takes too long and is too hard. People resist the pressure. Instead we need change that is whole-system owned and generated, focused on maximising tomorrow not fixing yesterday.
How is it different, why is it better?
Co-creative approaches to organization change such as Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space, and World Café have some very distinctive features that differentiate them from more familiar top-down planned approaches to change.
Appreciative Inquiry and other co-creative methodologies are essentially divergent ways of working together; the emphasis is on the value of diversity and variety. Such ways of working can trigger a pressure to converge on a few key points very early in the process, indeed sometimes before the event has even begun. This pressure can be the expression of various different needs, for example:
Elsewhere on this website we explore social capital as a group or social phenomena that adds value by increasing trust and information flow around an organisation, however it can also be understood from an economic perspective.
From this perspective it can be defined as a combination of the number of relationships some one has, the economic usefulness to them of those relationships and the quality of them: effectively, how well known someone is, in what circles, and with what degree of affection. It is the social capital in an organisation that means that we care about the effect our work will have on the next part of the production chain, rather than slinging substandard work over the functional line saying, ‘done my bit, their problem now’.
Fascinating research on group performance suggests two key things:That the collective intelligence of a group is more than the sum of its parts and that the presence of women in a group is key to high collective intelligence
A number of Appreciative Inquiry practitioners were having a conversation concerning the strong demand frequently experienced from commissioners and contractors for a highly convergent end to a discursive, divergent event.
We asked ourselves two questions: What was this request an expression of? and How could we meet it without compromising the spirit of our endeavours? Here are the high points of our discussion.
Cognitive research illuminates how our brains make decisions, and how they are different from computers. Compared to computers our brains are slow, noisy and imprecise. And, paradoxically perhaps, this makes them much more efficient than computers,
We all know rudeness is an unpleasant aspect of life, did you also know it has a cost attached? Two researchers, Porath and Erez, have spent years exploring the effect of rudeness on people at work, this is what they have found:
Between 1998 and 2005 the percentage of employees who reported experiencing rudeness once or more in a week doubled from almost 25% to almost 50%. Indeed in 2005 25% of employees reported experiencing rudeness at least once a day.
Given this is it surprising the extent to which organizations struggle with the concept of change in organizations. Myths abound. Working with organizations I constantly hear the refrain ‘people don’t like change’ and ‘change is hard’. Neither of these statements are necessarily true, as we see below. What is true is that the way we understand organizations, understand change, and go about achieving change can make the job much harder than it need be.
In any organisation there is always a variety of tools available to managers to influence staff towards desired behaviour. This has traditionally been seen as a choice between two general approaches: incentives and coercion, or, the carrot or stick approach.
Now there is a new alternative
This third method utilises the natural inertia of most people when confronted with the choice of accepting the status quo or changing things
At the 2012 World Appreciative Inquiry conference I fell into conversation with Stefan Cantore. Stefan was busy thinking about ‘our love affair with problems’ in preparation for writing a chapter for a forthcoming publication (details at end). We had a great discussion about this that stayed with me and caused me further thought.
How do we know when we encounter a problem?
The pressure on new leaders or senior appointments to make an impact, and quickly, is tremendous. The organization has spent time and money attracting, selecting and securing the chosen candidate, now they want to see the value they have bought. It’s a brave person who can hold fire while they take time to look and learn; take time to find out what works here, and how it does; to find out who the people are who really ensure the work gets done; to find out who is brave enough to deliver bad news. This knowledge is often hidden, while, to new eyes, what doesn’t work, who doesn’t look or behave like management behaviour, and who too often isn’t at the end of their phone or at their desk, is all too obvious. In their attempts both to improve things and make a mark quickly, New Brooms frequently commit one or all of these mistakes: