By Raju Mandhyan
THOUGH this habit has impacted me several times and through multiple avenues, I can’t seem to be impressed any lesser every time it happens. The habit of assessing any situation through a proactive stance and doing something concrete about all challenges most often than not generates happy and constructive outcomes.
Some time ago, I spent three months working with a bunch of senior executives of a global corporation. In the previous quarter their sales were down, they were developing lesser and lesser new products. People in several of their departments were low on energy and low on engagement. Upon probing deeper and conversing with people at multiple levels we sensed a drop in trust levels among the senior management.
Though this was barely visible in their behaviors and internal communications, it seemed that production, sales and even marketing had read between the lines and gotten a whiff of the underlying tremors in the senior team. The infliction had spread and was slowing down progress and even routine work.
We used a combination of strategies and interventions to heal the underlying tremors and discords. Most all of them were first focused on impressing upon all departments the value of consistent growth through innovation. Followed by small group discussions which were facilitated such to increase personal and corporate alignment. Once the teams and parts of the organization began to understand what needed to be done, several brainstorming sessions were held where cross-functional teams came up with ideas to innovate on people development, process improvement and suggestions on big-picture strategies for growth.
Of the scores of ideas, a select few were converted to action plans. The miraculous thing about the whole process was that since the dialogues and discussions were held following the Appreciative Inquiry way of life, a soft but a sticky benefit that emerged was increased engagement at all levels of the organization. It may not show on the company’s scorecards yet but the energy levels, the open discussions in the hallways and even the number of hi-five’s went up.
Appreciative Inquiry, in a tiny nutshell, is the habit of zooming in on strengths and successes of a system and then using careful questioning to unleash more strengths and synergies within a system. It is happy acceptance coupled with, say, the Socratic method of unearthing positive wisdom. Together, it makes for powerful magic for growth and development.
In the following months the company recouped and ran surveys on the actual results and numbers. The senior leadership and most all involved felt that what had been done had been done for the better and it is bound to have a long-term positive effect. If you, personally, or your organizations need to catalyze engagement, then development, look no further than appreciating what is and exploring deeper into what can be through the Appreciative Inquiry way of life. In our circle of consultants, we claim that deep inside every harsh desert there lies an oasis.
Raju Mandhyan is an author, coach and speaker.