Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Memento Appreciative Inquiry en français (in french) (#ai #pdf #free)

(the english version of this post & document has been published earlier here)

J’ai réalisé il y a un certain temps maintenant le petit memento qui suit concernant les principes et le déroulé d’une initiative Appreciative Inquiry. Vous pouvez le télécharger et le diffuser (en laissant l’attribution SVP 🙂

Bonne lecture!

Commentaires les bienvenus!

TRI Appreciative Inquiry v2.3 FR (mise à jour du 12/07/2012)

 

Free Appreciative Inquiry PDF Leaflet (#ai #pdf #free)

I’ve just finished translating a leaflet I wrote in french a few years ago on Appreciative Inquiry.

Now, the document is available in english. Feel free to use and send to whoever you want, provided you keep the attribution.

It’s a short summary describing the principles and the method to get started in AI. For a more thorough list of papers, please go to the AI Commons or check the (excellent) AI Practitioner magazine.

TRI Appreciative Inquiry v2.3 EN

Enjoy !

(french: La version française est accessible dans ce post!)

#Prezi presentation of Appreciative Inquiry for Community Development #AI

Someone on LinkedIn posted a link to this wonderful Prezi presentation. Although you might not be into community Development, most of the presentation is worth looking. Check it out!

It appears that the author, Lise Palmer, authored other Prezi, on AI and else. Probably worth checking out too!

Well done, Lisa!!

 

New Year Questions (#SolutionFocus #Change)

Coert Visser did a nice article about Solution Focus based questions for a new year. I’d like to build on them and propose my own, in the hope that it could positively improve any change initiative you’re a part of (or a leader).

From your customers’ point of view

  • What pleased your customers last year? What else?
  • How did you provided that to them? What else?
  • How could you make more of that?
  • What first step can you take right not to make more of that? What smaller step can you make? Even smaller?
  • Imagine your customers coming in and asked you straight what they really want. What would they ask? What else?
  • How are you going to provide it? What first step do you need to make, now, to provide it?

From your employees’ point of view

Manager to employees

  • What made your employees happy last year?
  • How could they achieve this?
  • How can you help them make more of it?
  • What are they thriving for?
  • What would make them soar?
  • What impact would them soaring could have on yourself? On your business?
  • What small step can you make right now to start building that preferred future of them?
  • What first thing will your employees notice that you changed in order to bring them more thriving opportunities in their work?
  • What strengths did you notice in each of your employees? How is s/he using them? What prevents them from using these strengths more thoroughly and more often? How could you help that? What first step do you see you doing now to help that strength liberation?

Employees to management

  • What made you happy last year?
  • How did you do it?
  • How could you make more of it?
  • What worked well in your relations with your management? How did you do it? What else? How could you do more of it?

From a process (system) point of view

  • What worked well last year? What else?
  • How did the organization make it happen?
  • How could you do more of it? What else?
  • What first step could you do right now to do more of it?

Ok, I guess you got the point. Feel free to propose more questions below!

Happy new year everyone!

Don’t look for #change resistance. It’s bad for you.

People expect change resistance and most, if not all, change approaches recommend anticipating it to better fight or manage it.

Indeed, in a pure constructivist view, what you look for, you’ll find (one of the principles of Appreciative Inquiry). If you keep asking what might go wrong, chances are that people (willing to help you) will play devil’s advocate and throw stones at your ideas. Indeed, you’re the one that looked for these people in the first place! Further, by confronting these people, you’ll most probably dig your grave yourself. You entail yourself to critics, a sure way to lower your morale and make your project stale. In a short time, you’ll see but the bad sides of your project.

On the other hand, if you search for supporters, chances are you’ll find some, too (same constructivist principle). Supporters will praise your ideas and send you positive messages that will boost your energy. Being in a good mood, you’re in a better position to listen for ideas that may enhance yours, creating synergies among participants, fostering even more positive energy and moving everybody in that future they’re collectively imagining, thereby creating it (the fact that you might have taken these very same ideas as critics in the previous situation will, hopefully, never occur to you!).

Here’s a trick to help you find supporters: ask them what they need first and see how your ideas could provide it then show them how.

Did you know that most people love to help others? How could you find out by yourself?

An NGO Training Guide for Volunteers (featuring #appreciativeinquiry)

I just stumbled on this PDF document from PeaceCorps of  An NGO Training Guide for Volunteers that features Appreciative Inquiry as a way to develop NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations).

You might be interested in their whole online library.

Other interesting resources include (check out because you might be interested in other stuff!)

Aren’t these nice printouts for Christmas? :o)

Merry Christmas!

Reblog: Metaphors of Organisation by James Lawley

Someone just mentioned this:

Metaphors of Organisation part 1 & part 2.

Very interesting!

I’d like to add the “Organizations as mysteries to be embraced” (google search) way of seeing them, as proposed by Appreciative Inquiry for instance.

Reading this paper might throw you more into constructivism… This is for you own good. I’m not sorry for that 😉

 

#Strength based Hoshin Kanri (#Lean policy deployement)?

My recent post about how Hoshin Kanri is respectful of people got me some feedback on Twitter about how hoshin can also be used to oppress people.

Of course, if management doesn’t take lower hierarchical level ideas into account, or if the “bottom-up”  part is not done at all, can it turns back into classical “command and control” way of managing an organization. But this is not Lean Hoshin Kanri anymore, in the same way that Lean can be Mean, but then it’s not Lean anymore either.

Now, I would like to focus a bit more on how Hoshin Kanri can be done with a Strength-based touch in order to reinforce that “respect for people” part of it.

First of all, I think Hoshin is already somewhat strength-based (again, when done “properly”) in that it asks people about their advice on what ought to be done to improve the organization. People are more likely to give a direction that suits them (conforms to their strengths) than any other one.

But then, it seems to me the focus on strengths could be reinforced explicitly. Here’s how:

  • First, in the initial vision building, the strength part need to be made explicit by not referring to what’s broken inside the company, but rather to what makes the company successful. Some kind of values that are already shared by employees of the companies, or some values that are already acknowledged by the market (and known to the employees). If that is not the case, then I think it’s worth investing some time upfront into developing such a positive (hence powerful) vision, with approaches like Appreciative Inquiry which inquire into what’s been working best for people and what they value as individual and as a social group.
  • Second, building on this initial shared positive vision, each descending step of the hoshin kanri should work with whatever excellence is recognized at each level and try to maximize it (first by appreciating it, then by amplifying it). When that recognition comes from management and is the basis for further reflection down the hierarchy, it will be a huge motivation booster for people to contribute!
  • Then, each and every collaborator, under guidance from their direct manager, need to be coached into reflecting on their own strengths and how they see these fitting with the values of the department in which they’re in. The question being asked here not being “does they fit?” (closed question – bad), but “how could they fit better?” (opened question – good)

After the initial descending part of hoshin kanri, the bottom-up part should re-assemble a whole lot more positive energy and ideas for amplifying and refracting inner strengths than has never been possible under other approaches.

Peter Drucker, famous Leadership guru, taught us that “the role of leadership is to align strengths so as to make weaknesses irrelevant“. I’m confident this might be a way to make it work.

The way I propose to conduct the hoshin kanri above is somewhat similar to what could be done with Appreciative Inquiry. Yet, it may be more structured and thus resemble more what traditional policy deployment looks like. As a consequence, it may be more acceptable for a top manager to try this rather than a whole-system change a la AI.

What do you think of it?

A response to Youtellus: The power of questions

I really like this blog post: Youtellus: The power of questions. All the stuff about asking powerful and mind-blowing questions is true and should be practiced all day long.

Yet, this part makes me wonder:

“Leaders and managers have the obligation to always look for ways that the organization as a whole can function more effectively.To do this, they need to ask questions about practices, processes, persons and structures:
Why do we things this way?is there a better approach?”

I mean, do we really need to ask people questions about practices, processes and structures? I guess that if we do, we’d find problems. People rarely get interested in these (I do, but then, I’m a Lean coach, so that doesn’t count because I’m not “normal” 🙂

To be a bit more serious, I was interested in processes at the beginning because I was a sort of productivity geek. But then I understood that improving processes with Lean or Six Sigma was not a matter of using tools. Even further, it was not a process matter.

Improving organization is a people thing.

I don’t mean a social or psychological thing (though these may help, but at the same level as can IT for instance – heck, I am in IT now!) When I say “people” I mean real people, with a head and a heart!

Improving organizations is about taking care of your people and what they care about.

And in the sentence “what they care about“, the important word is not “what” (it’s none of your business) nor is it “care” (how they do it: again, it’s personal to them). What’s important is “they“.

  • If you want money in your pocket as a manager, you won’t be able to motivate people.
  • If you want to improve your organization’s efficiency, you won’t be able to motivate people.
  • If you want to serve your customers better, you won’t be able to motivate your people.

In order to motivate your people, you need to help them identify their WIIFM factor: What’s In It For Me?

You need to ensure your people have identified what motivates them (but they’ll tell you only if they want to). You need to provide them with the support they need from you.

By instituting a permanent Dialogue between your people regarding what and how they want to contribute to the world, you will be able to fuel the change your organization desperately needs. By building on what works for them, they’ll build an organization that will also:

  • work well (efficiency)
  • provide your customers what they want (efficacy)
  • and help them fulfill their dreams
  • which may, in the end, provide some earning for you (and them) as a side effect.

Of course, you need to trust your people to be able to come to an agreement about making a profitable company. But do you sincerely think they’ll imagine something that can’t pay their salary?

If you don’t trust your people, they’ll notice and they won’t trust you. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

Try giving first and see what happens. Only a bit, something that you won’t regret afterwards. Notice how it comes back, sometimes bigger. Then, next time, gives a bit more. And a bit bigger next time.

Then ask your people now that you’ve rebuild a trust relationship what they would like from you first.

And then give it to them.

Then see.

Enjoy.

 

What Steve Jobs can teach us in order to really appreciate systems?

Here is a very nice article from The Personal Excellence Blog. I will just recall the 11 points made over there:

  1. Life is what you make it out to be
  2. Dream big – very big
  3. The greatest things started somewhere
  4. Certifications don’t matter
  5. Live every day like it is your last
  6. Stop listening to what others say
  7. Do not underestimate the impact you can have on the world
  8. Failure only happens when you deem it to be so
  9. Do what you love
  10. Have faith – Never lose hope
  11. Outdo yourself – Over, and over again

Isn’t this a near perfect mix of Appreciative Inquiry and Solution Focus?

I’ve read elsewhere that you need to always think big because lower and mid-levels are already crowded. There’s still room available at the most higher levels: it might be easier to play big than to make room for yourself in mediocrity.

Let me rewrite the list by adding the powerful concepts at play underneath:

  1. Life is what you make it out to be – constructivism, appreciative inquiry
  2. Dream big – very big – constructivismappreciative inquiry
  3. The greatest things started somewhere – solution focus (smallest next action)
  4. Certifications don’t matter – strengths
  5. Live every day like it is your last – Buddha also said: and learn as if you would never die
  6. Stop listening to what others say – be active in constructivism, don’t let others construct you!
  7. Do not underestimate the impact you can have on the world – constructivism again: your questions are fateful, appreciative inquiry as well
  8. Failure only happens when you deem it to be so – constructivism!
  9. Do what you love – what else? Solution focus also
  10. Have faith – Never lose hope – constructivism though indirectly: when you want something strong enough, the universe will conspire to make it happen (recalled from memory, Paulo Coelho)
  11. Outdo yourself – Over, and over again – constructivism as well: think big and it’ll happen to you because you’ll construct the world accordingly.

Thanks Celes for writing this excellent article!

 

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