What does changing an organisation really mean? Why is it important?

Most organization's biggest challenge is adapting to the speed of change. Established change management practices just aren’t fast or flexible enough. They take too long to plan, they take too long to implement, they fail to motivate staff and they take too much organisational energy to drive through.

Fortunately, we have another approach to change.

We have been working with alternative approaches to organisational change since 1993. We understand organizations to be made up of people. People who are capable of engaging with challenges, working together, using their imagination, trying things out, motivating each other and surprising themselves.

Resistance To Change

When we work with organizations in this way we find the problems of resistance to change and the need to get buy-in pretty much solve themselves. Indeed the problem can become how to manage the organisational energy for change that the processes release!

Our approach is developed from our extended experience with people in organizations, from our engagement with leadership teams, from our qualifications in human and organisational psychology and from our particular study of modern co-creative emergent strengths based change theory.


Sarah says

‘I believe that my combination of a broad social science background; social work practice; specialism in social constructionist change approaches to people, systems and change, 23 years experience as a consultant/OD/facilitator psychologist, plus my professional credentials as a psychologist, my positive psychology and strengths based practice experience, my authorship of two well respected specialist books, and my sense of humour, combine to create a particular approach to, and skill with, working with groups and people that has on more than one occasion been described as ‘magic’ in its effectiveness in achieving or creating change.’



"Sarah created a great atmosphere ini the working groups that enabled a frank but positive workgroup that had some tricky problems to overcome. With Sarah's help we were able to work our way through the 'fog' to create a clear vision and set of programme objectives in a difficult business transformation exercise." - Paul Baigent, Interim Manager (Procurement), Aliaxis. Now at Malpas Executive.

Want to see what techniques we use to bring about effective Organisational Change and improve your organisation's Leadership, Culture and level of employee Engagement? Have a look at the Positive Techniques And Tools We Use.

The quality of leadership is key to effective organizations. The behaviour of leaders has a huge influence on organizational culture, engagement and performance. Today’s fast paced world demands adaptable, authentic leadership.

The actions of leaders speak louder than any of their words and every action must count. We can help your leadership team utilize all its resources to offer strategic direction, grow and develop others, and promote employee engagement and a positive organisational culture. We can help make it strong and compassionate, flexible and firm minded, diverse and effective. 

Leadership is a relational activity: Authentic leaders create authentic followers.
— Sarah Lewis; Founder and MD of Appreciating Change
I found the hour we had brilliant and has helped with my focus, perspective and direction. I came away feeling very positive about things and provoked a lot of thought even after the meeting. I appreciate the techniques and nuggets of wisdom you shared with me and will look forward to trying these out.
— Gemma Goodlad; HR Advisor Vector Areospace UK - on leadership coaching session
I found our coaching session the other day extremely useful and put the ideas we developed into practice both in a project meeting and in a colleague meeting. I used Appreciative Inquiry as we discussed and it was magical. The results were unbelievable.
— Yildiray Karaarslan, Regional Director CAMENA, Oxford University Press - on leadership coaching session

How do you improve leadership?


Top Team Development

The way the top team works  together (or doesn’t) sets the tone for the rest of the organization. Disunited leadership is reflected in a fragmented and warring organization. Ineffectual leadership creates confusion and wasted effort; while over-controlling leadership stifles creativity. Top teams need to work together to create the strategic level synergy and direction that only they can provide. All easier said than done: we help with the doing. We work with you to design events and processes that create commonality of understanding, direction and purpose. We help make the whole more than the sum of the parts. 

Leadership Skills Training

The verdict is in: leadership can be taught. To become effective as leaders people need leadership experiences, progressive challenges; and feedback. They need to develop a level of self-awareness, particularly of their effect on others. They need to know how to get the best out of others (no easy skill). They need to know how they are similar and, more importantly, different from others. They need to recognize their unique peak strengths and be aware of their weaknesses. We can’t change core personalities, but we can help people become the best leader they can be. 

Leadership Coaching

Leadership can be a lonely position at times. Leaders can find themselves burdened with information they can’t share, beset by worries they can’t confide and uncertain of what action to take. Without good support even the most experienced leader can become ineffectual.

Leaders need a thought partner, a sounding board outside the organizational network and separate from their families and friends where they can speak with an openness and honesty not possible elsewhere, to explore, reflect and make good decisions. We can provide that. 

Want to see what techniques we use to bring about effective Organisational Change and improve your organisation's Leadership, Culture and level of employee Engagement? Have a look at the Positive Techniques And Tools We Use.

How engaged (or not) employees are with their manager, organization and work makes a huge difference to their effectiveness, profitability and productivity. It affects wellbeing, attendance, retention, effort, performance, quality, sales, income, turnover, profit, customer satisfaction, shareholder return and business growth. Engagement isn’t particular job dependent, its much more about the whole organizational environment: leadership and management behavior, opportunities to feel good at work, and the opportunity to use personal strengths everyday. High levels of employee engagement is a business imperative. 

Engagement is a product of skilful people management.
— Sarah Lewis; Founder and MD of Appreciating Change
Highly engaged staff add value to the bottom line.
— Sarah Lewis; Founder and MD of Appreciating Change

How do I get these guys to engage?


Facts and Figures

Approximately 19% of employees at work are actively disengaged, that is, they are costing their employers money by using their resources (especially the internet) and giving little value in return. Such disengagement is thought to cost the UK about £38bn a year. Disengaged employees average more than 6 sick days a year, they are more likely to leave. Engaged employees perform 20% better and give 57% more discretionary effort.


Key Factors

Levels of employee engagement are affected by various things. Engagement is enhanced by leaders that are visible, strategic, communicative and trustworthy. Clear achievable goals and rewards help, as does a clear meaning and purpose to work that is connected to making a difference. People are more likely to be engaged when they get to exercise their natural abilities on the job, in a positive atmosphere of support and encouragement. Allowing people some scope in how they achieve their objectives, i.e. in how they craft their job, helps. Helping people understand where they fit in the organization and how their contribution is valued increases engagement.


Enhancing Engagement

Employee engagement is a key variable in individual and organizational performance. Working with people individually, as teams or through organizational development can all help to increase levels of engagement. Engagement is a property of people at work, affected by individual factors of personal strengths and motivations; by job factors such as job design,; and organizational factors such as leadership, mission clarity and culture. Levels of engagement can be measured at different points in time so that the effectiveness of interventions can be assessed.

Want to see what techniques we use to bring about effective Organisational Change and improve your organisation's Leadership, Culture and level of employee Engagement? Have a look at the Positive Techniques And Tools We Use.

An organization’s culture is key to an organization’s success. It is created by history, the nature of the work and the market sector, and held is in place by habit, leadership, structures, processes and current organizational members. This means there are potentially a number of points of intervention when an organization’s culture needs adjustment. Culture is held in place by the beliefs, and habitual interaction patterns of the organizational members. Appreciating Change believes the most effective point of initial intervention is with this ‘mental model’ of the organization, one that is held in the collection social system: effective and sustainable change starts here.

Culture is held in patterns of behaviour: change the patterns, change the culture
— Sarah Lewis; Founder and MD of Appreciating Change
Culture is a powerful, and intangible, influence on performance
— Sarah Lewis; Founder and MD of Appreciating Change

How do you make your culture better?


Positive Workplace Cultures

We know what makes for positive organizational cultures from Kim Cameron’s research into flourishing organizations. He identified an ability to learn from success; to affirm the best in everyone and everything; and virtuous behavior as the three factors that distinguish the best organizations. Leadership needs to model these behaviours, and this is related in turn to leadership authenticity and integrity. At the same time interventions such as positive deviance research and appreciative inquiry help to highlight the best in the organization, its successes and its positive core, and encourage virtuous circles of performance improvement. 

Positive Team Cultures

The basic factors necessary for high team performance are well known: a shared goal, clarity of contribution, social cohesion and so on. However Appreciative Inquiry and positive psychology bring us further insights that add to team performance, for example, the knowledge of members' strengths and the ability to combine them effectively;  creating positive experiences and celebrating success; and, actively working to create a strong team identity and pride. Team cultures of generosity, continual evaluation and feedback, recognition, forgiveness, recognition of strengths, appreciation of difference can be encouraged using approaches such as appreciative team development. 

Organizational Cultural Change

Organisational culture is closely related to organizational identity. It is very important that attempts to change organizational culture address the need for a continuity of identity. Culture change may affect the psychological contract members have with the organization. This in turn affects the level of goodwill and amount of discretionary effort offered by organizational members. Involving as many people as possible in the process of evolving towards a new culture, lessens the risk of disaffection and alienation of members.  The large group transformational methods favoured by Appreciating Change are particularly suited to this challenge. 

Want to see what techniques we use to bring about effective Organisational Change and improve your organisation's Leadership, Culture and level of employee Engagement? Have a look at the Positive Techniques And Tools We Use.