Appreciative Inquiry

Most of Western society is better at negative or critical inquiry than we are at appreciative inquiry where we find what is RIGHT about a person or group’s performance.

It not only energizes individuals and groups when leaders recognize the things that go well, it also gives the leader positive momentum.

One simple thing you can try right away:

Every two weeks or so, set up a list of your subordinates, peers, and boss. Make notes about anything well done. Check off each person as you recognize good work. Then start again.

Most of the time, you won’t have to do anything special. The list will prompt you to be in a position to notice people’s work and to say (or write) something about it. Your comments can be short and information. Make this fast and easy.

There are many free resources on the Internet and books about this topic. Here are a few that we like.

David Cooperrider at Case Western Reserve University is generally credited with turning this idea into a formal organizational development process. Here’s a short summary written by David and Diana Whitney: A Positive Revolution in Change: Appreciative Inquiry

The Appreciative Inquiry Commons provides many free resources and links. The site is very rich and quite dense. Here are some starting links:

US Navy Case Study

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency

materials for appreciative inquiry programs

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Thinking about Work Overload

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I have three main ideas that you might find helpful.

1 – As we discussed, the pace is not likely to get slower, so we all have to adapt.

2 – Accomplishing–and recognizing that we accomplish–things with regularity helps.  Studies show that accomplishment is often the strongest motivator at work.  If you are a leader, make it your job to structure tasks so that your staff can finish them often.

3 – Balancing our personal energies makes a huge difference.  Although most of us know this, we tend to let this slide from time to time.

There is evidence from the corporate world that better balance increases profitability.

The basic idea is to make sure that in every day, you make time for multiple types of activities (such as–in addition to work–play, exercise, reflection).

Here are two sources with more information:

1- This is a very short blog post: Four Types of Time: A New Way to look at Time Management

2- A Harvard Business Review article “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time” available for $6.95 on the HBR site

Key points: Manage your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual (religious or other) energy.  Includes a case study from Wachovia Bank showing that the “balanced” group out performed a control group by 13% in revenue generation.

I’ve been working on my balance and it is helping, some days more than others.

I hope you find this helpful and would be delighted to hear your thoughts.

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