“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” — Steve Jobs
My 25 years of experience at Microsoft has shown me that the most effective leaders lead change management better.
They lead change management better by co-create a clear, inspiring, and inclusive vision of the future.
The big idea of Appreciative Inquiry is to lead change better by leveraging the whole system and focusing on strengths-based inquiry and change, instead of traditional problem solving.
By leveraging the power of storytelling, Appreciative Inquiry helps organizations understand their present situation and visualize their future.
Appreciative Inquiry empowers leaders to shift perspectives and drive positive change through the active use of language and visualization, providing a powerful tool for co-creating a thriving culture.
Organizational culture breathes life into a company, evolving and shaped by the language, stories, practices, and relationships within it.
It’s a powerful force that can either propel individuals and teams to greatness or drag them down, and it has a profound impact on an organization’s energy, ingenuity, and efficiency.
3 Ways to Lead Change Management that is Deeper, More Meaningful and More Sustainable
Here are three smart ways to make change deeper, more meaningful, and more sustainable with Appreciative Inquiry:
- Emphasize the stories: Stories can be a powerful tool for creating change by helping to build a shared understanding and vision of what is possible. Encourage people to share their own stories of success and what makes them come alive, and then work to connect those stories to the larger vision for change.
- Build on the positive: Instead of focusing on what needs to be fixed, focus on what is already working well and build on those strengths. This can create a positive momentum for change and help people to see the potential for growth and improvement.
- Involve the whole system: By bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders, you can ensure that everyone has a voice in the change process, which can lead to greater buy-in and commitment to the change.
Link the Change Management Agenda to the Positive Core
Appreciative Inquiry seeks to identify and amplify the Positive Core by engaging stakeholders in a strengths-based inquiry and change process that focuses on what is working well, rather than on problems and deficiencies.
The idea of the Positive Core in Appreciative Inquiry is that every person, team, and organization has a unique set of strengths, capabilities, and positive experiences that can be leveraged to create positive change.
The Positive Core represents the essence of what is working well within the system and can be used as a foundation for building a better future.
By intentionally building upon an organization’s Positive Core strengths, the Appreciative Inquiry process consciously constructs a positive future.
This approach links the energy of the organization’s positive core directly to any change agenda, creating and mobilizing new scenarios and abilities that were never before thought possible.
Appreciative Inquiry has shown that when human systems persistently focus on positive questions, they grow in that direction most sustainably.
Lead Change Management Better by Growing a Growth Mindset
Fostering a growth mindset for Appreciative Inquiry is important because it enables individuals and organizations to see challenges and obstacles as opportunities for growth and learning, rather than as fixed limitations.
With a growth mindset, individuals are more likely to embrace change, take risks, and persist through challenges, which are all key components of successful Appreciative Inquiry processes.
Additionally, a growth mindset encourages creativity and innovation, which can lead to the development of more sustainable, meaningful, and effective solutions.
Here are three smart ways to foster a growth mindset:
- Embrace mistakes and failures as opportunities for growth: Encourage yourself and others to see mistakes and failures as opportunities for learning and growth, rather than as indicators of personal flaws or limitations.
- Cultivate a sense of curiosity and openness: Develop a sense of curiosity and openness to new experiences and ideas. This will help you approach challenges with a willingness to learn and adapt.
- Focus on effort and progress, not just outcomes: Shift your focus from just the end result to the effort and progress made along the way. Celebrate the small wins and incremental progress towards a larger goal, as this can help you stay motivated and committed to long-term change.
Lead Change Management Better by Cultivating a Culture of Innovation
Encourage people to think creatively and come up with new ideas for how to achieve the shared vision for change. This can help to keep the momentum going and ensure that change continues to happen over the long-term.
Here are three smart ways to foster a culture of innovation:
- Encourage risk-taking: Encourage employees to take calculated risks and experiment with new ideas. Create a safe space for employees to share their ideas and provide support for those who take risks.
- Embrace diversity and inclusion: Create a diverse and inclusive workplace where all voices are heard and respected. Encourage different perspectives and ways of thinking to drive innovation.
- Provide resources and support: Give employees the tools, resources, and support they need to innovate. This includes investing in training and development, providing access to cutting-edge technology, and creating an environment that encourages collaboration and teamwork.
Lead Change Management Better Through Appreciative Inquiry
Creating change that is deeper, more meaningful, and sustainable requires an intentional and mindful approach.
Appreciative Inquiry offers a powerful framework for this approach by focusing on strengths-based inquiry, fostering a growth mindset, and promoting a culture of innovation.
To drive diversity and inclusion, it’s important to challenge assumptions and actively seek out diverse perspectives.
By adopting these strategies and committing to ongoing learning and development, individuals and organizations can create transformative change that is lasting and impactful.
Get the Books on Appreciate Inquiry
These are the books on Appreciative Inquiry I found most useful: