Constant Change l Creative Innovation

Constant Change l Creative Innovation

by elainesuess

A few weeks ago, I was in a room with 32 others at Case Western Reserve University. We represented numerous countries around the globe, including Japan, Iceland, Nepal, Spain, Mexico, India, Singapore, New Zealand and the United States.

It was a very interesting and insightful group, and we were all there with purpose – to grow in our ability to serve our clients, and to complete our certification in Appreciative Inquiry (AI) from the “father” of AI, David Cooperrider.

The Beginning

In the late ‘80’s, before the Strengths movements began, and before positive psychology officially charged out of the gate, the Appreciative Inquiry process was softly launched without fanfare, patent or IP protections, for the world to use.

Since then, AI has taken hold in businesses and non-profit organizations large and small, including the U.S. Navy, the Cleveland Clinic, United Way and so many more.

What Is Appreciative Inquiry?

In a few words, AI is a positive, strengths-based approach to change and innovation.

It’s a process of changing organizations by studying and building on what’s working, rather than focusing on what’s not. Problems are not ignored, but rather, they’re reframed so latent energy can be focused on what the organization wishes to create.

The switch from deficit thinking to Appreciative thinking can look like this:

  • Creating a Magnetic Workforce (not fixing a retention problem)
  • Creating an Culture of High Commitment (not fixing a low morale problem)
  • Creating Inspired Teams (not fixing team communication issues)
  • Delivering Service Excellence (not fixing customer service)

In the end, problems are addressed, but the open environment of creating allows for a much different approach, with a more positive focus and greater innovation.

Whole System Solutions

Organizations enable leaps beyond current ways of thinking (and working!) when they capitalize on the strengths, experiences and creativity of employees and stakeholders alike.

With change a constant, and opportunities lurking behind the stories and experiences of our people, doesn’t that sound like something we should all be doing?

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