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


Trust: Research on Gaining and Re-gaining Trust in Workplaces

Even extraordinary leaders sometimes struggle with gaining–or much more difficult–regaining trust.

There are many reasons.  Because everyone sees the world differently, sometimes our definitions of trust are not the same.  We, or others, may have been burned in the past and find it difficult to have faith again.

Of course, actions matter more than words.  But, it is useful to have additional tools.

One resource that I’ve found to be helpful is the research conducted by Dennis and Michelle Reina and included in their two books.  You can order them from amazon by clicking on the image of the book covers below.

Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace: Building Effective Relationships in Your Organization
In this book, Dennis and Michelle distinguish three types of trust: contractual, communications, and competence. I’ve found their definitions of these types of trust helpful.
Rebuilding Trust in the Workplace: Seven Steps to Renew Confidence, Commitment and Energy by Dennis S Reina and Michelle L Reina
The seven steps in this book are based in both research and long-standing wisdom.  Those who have read Elisabeth Kublier-Ross’s books on death and dying will find this process resonates.  Often forgiving ourselves is the most important and most difficult task.