Thursday, January 7, 2016

Something to appreciate?

In my first three coaching conversations of this year, each leader spoke of wanting to be more appreciative to their team.   

Here in a previous HBR article, Tony Schwartz talks about Why Appreciation Matters So Much. As he points out heartfelt appreciation is a muscle we’ve not spent much time building, or felt encouraged to build. 

That is why I like Appreciative Inquiry – for it can help people build this muscle, in an organisational setting.  It is a philosophy and process for positive change, which focuses on life-affirming potential as opposed to problems.    An approach which is also encouraging when faced with unfulfilled goals and despite an optimistic outlook, a feeling of 'making little progress'.   
In summary the AI process is called the 4Ds and involves the following: 

You may wish to commit to using its principles and process in your team meetings this year.  You may also find it useful in your 1:1 coaching conversations.  It is mutually affirming.  As the leader or coach asking the questions, you are showing how you value the other through the inquiry. The team members or coachee are similarly reflecting in a self compassionate way.   For those of you who are rolling over a few resolutions from last year, it might be just the tool for a positive conversation with yourself.

An inquiry can include for example:

  • On a scale of 0 – 10, 10 being the highest, where would you score yourself on [making progress on your goal]
  • Looking at your score, what progress have you made? 
  • What has gone well?  
  • If you mark e.g.: at 6, what makes you score yourself a 6 instead of a 4 or 5?   
  • What have you learnt?  
  • What would need to be true to for example, make it an 8? 
  • What does a 10 look like?
  • What do you want to do? 
  • What could you do?

Such an approach builds from a place of strength, resourcefulness and success as opposed to deficit, deletion, non achievement and failure.

A much better way to begin the year don’t you think?.


Origins of which are found in mid 1980s at Case Western Reserve University – i.e.: Srivastva and Cooperrider (1990). Appreciative management and leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Whitney, D. (2010), “Appreciative inquiry: creating spiritual resonance in the workplace”, Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion, 7(1): 73-88.
Whitney, D. and Trosten-Bloom, A. (2003), The power of appreciative inquiry: a practical guide to positive change. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
Schwartz, T (Why Appreciation Matters So Much, Harvard Business Review, Jan 23, 2012
Image source: (via images, sourced 14/12/11)


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