Archive for appreciative inquiry

Looking for an Edge? Use Disruptive Innovation.

What do strengths-based leadership, emotional intelligence, appreciative inquiry and courageous conversations have in common? Together, they form a model of coaching that creates more innovative and higher-performing organizations—organizations that use disruptive innovation to become big, juicy and successful rather than withering on the vine.

This holistic coaching model enables people to generate creative solutions to challenges within their workplaces—through disruptive innovation. Capiche uses this model with great success when working with individuals, teams and organizations.

Three scholars from Chicago’s Concordia University are studying this model and its effect on emerging leaders: Kathryn Hollywood, Donna Blaess and Claudia Santin. I saw them present the concept while I was at the University of New Mexico Mentoring Institute’s Eighth Annual Conference last week. I left the presentation with a huge smile on my face. They were speaking my language!

I share their belief that for today’s and tomorrow’s organizations to thrive, they must rely on the innovations of their people. For people to freely innovate, they need a positive mindset. This mindset can be fostered through a holistic coaching model that blends strengths-based leadership, emotional intelligence, appreciative inquiry and courageous conversations.

Let’s Look at Each Component

Strengths-Based Leadership

Strengths-based leadership asserts that people are at their best when maximizing their strengths vs. struggling to be mediocre at everything. As Gallup has discovered over nearly 20 years of researching individuals, teams and organizations, leaders who encourage people to develop their strengths can create a powerful organization comprising teams with complementary strengths. A holistic coach can stimulate the development of strengths, inspire the use of strengths in new ways and illuminate accomplishments while nurturing continued growth and development.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI), first introduced in 1998 by Daniel Goleman, is a combination of awareness of self and others—and the ability to manage one’s self and interactions with others for positive outcomes. Some of the benefits of higher EI include greater self-awareness and self-confidence, deeper empathy and a richer capacity to lead and manage change. Other benefits include better health, relationships and overall quality of life. The beauty of EI is that—unlike IQ—it can be increased. Doing so starts with self-awareness, and a coach can be instrumental in a person’s endeavors to increase his EI.

Workplace HipsterAppreciative Inquiry

Appreciative inquiry (AI) focuses on what an individual or organization does well. It shifts the focus from solving problems to multiplying successes. Originally introduced by David Cooperrider in 1986 as a strategy for organizational change, it also is a powerful tool for individual change. As Drs. Hollywood, Blaess and Santin write, “Using AI, the holistic coach will invite the coachee to reflect on specific events or experiences to: a) identify her most outstanding personal accomplishments, b) discuss the learning from these accomplishments, c) identify her values, d) describe five adjectives that describe her ‘at my best’ engagement and e) dream about her contribution to the organization and the world.”

Courageous Conversations

Courageous conversations can only occur in a fearless environment—a place where people are free to try new things as well as to fail. This becomes possible when emotionally intelligent people—working from their strengths—come together to achieve good things and build upon that which is already working. In a trusting and respectful environment, people can share, listen, explore and engage. This is a space where new ideas are born, fresh ways of thinking are embraced and innovation is possible.

The Role of Coaching

We know coaching works. The ICF 2012 Global Coaching Client Study shows most clients reported improved work performance, better business management, more efficient time management, increased team effectiveness and more growth and opportunities. The same study found coaching clients noted greater self-confidence, enhanced relationships, more effective communications skills, better work-and-life balance and an improvement in wellness. The median suggests a client who achieved financial benefit from coaching can typically expect a ROI of more than three times the amount spent.

It’s clear coaching supports and sustains the individual growth needed for high-performing organizations. Holistic coaching focuses on appreciating strengths, developing greater emotional intelligence, opening communication and getting more of what’s already good. This contributes to the organization’s success by maximizing performance, productivity and ability to innovate and change—while developing individuals’ potential and connection to their life’s work.

The ICF study reports that 86 percent of companies say they made their investment back. In fact, 19 percent saw a ROI of 50 times their investment, while another 28 percent saw a ROI of 10 to 49 times the investment.

Get Started Now

Are you ready to go to the next level? Is your organization ready? Let the disruptive innovation begin! Capiche specializes in holistic coaching for individuals, teams and organizations. Call 541.601.0114 or email Chris Cook to see what coaching can do for your organization.

What Would Increased Happiness Do for Your Business?

Ashland Food Co-op Montage

“Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately, they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees. —Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

This summer, I worked with the Ashland Food Co-op on its groundbreaking Happiness@Work project—because they DIDN’T forget about the importance of a positive culture when things seemed to be going astray. The project was born out of tension between departments and between managers and their employees as well as a volatile debate around whether or not to unionize. Capiche was selected for this project by the Co-op’s Happiness@Work Team, which comprises board members, the general manager and representatives from the newly formed Employee Alliance.

Co-op General Manager Emile Amarotico says, “The positive impact this work has had on employee engagement in implementing solutions they’ve designed can’t help but permeate through fellow employees within the organization. It’s great that we’re making strides toward a happy workplace and have solutions being designed and implemented, but people can’t forget that the results also will include more productivity, happier customers and an atmosphere with a vibe that more people want to participate in.”

Known for its focus on happiness at work, Capiche applies the scientific research on happiness to real-world applications. “It’s fun to see where the theory starts to impact the actual workings, the mechanics of the organization,” Emile says.

Ashland Food Co-op Farmers Gathering ProduceAlong with trusted colleague John Bowling of Sustainable Leadership Consultants, Capiche started with an organizational assessment from Happiness Works and then created opportunities for employees at all levels to provide suggestions using an appreciative inquiry process. We gathered information about what employees valued most about their work at the Co-op and discovered areas that offered opportunities for improvement. Key topics that emerged were communication and cooperation, learning and development and renewal and stress management.

With this information, the Happiness@Work Team empowered three volunteer Solutions Teams (comingling managers and employees from various departments) to create and develop solutions around these key topics with the vision of making the Co-op a better place to work. These groups met for five months and, in the process of focusing on growth opportunities, also developed strong cross-department and cross-employment–level relationships. This promoted greater understanding and empathy among all involved.

Ashland Food Co-op Farmer in the FieldWith support from the Board of Directors and management team, these solutions are in the process of being implemented. This process is fully aligned with the Co-op’s mission and vision, which includes “joyfully working together, providing a workplace that fosters opportunities for participation, empowerment and growth in an environment of mutual respect and cooperation.”

Emile adds, “I would recommend Capiche to any organization that is truly committed to engaging with the nerve system of their organization with the intention of creating positive change.”

Happiness and wellbeing at work are possible wherever people are clear about and honor their values, vision and mission. Employee and customer loyalty, creativity, innovation, teamwork and ultimately positive business results follow employee happiness and engagement.

Please share your success stories or let me know if you would like to talk about how to align your mission with your culture to bring more happiness and business success to your workplace.

What’s the Problem? (No. Strike That.) What’s Working Here?

Dandelion Flower Growing out of Street Curb

How to bring out the best in tough situations by building on the good

Since childhood, we’ve been conditioned to look for what’s wrong and try to fix it. In organizations, we often start with looking for the deficits, the weak spots, the challenges—and then have countless committee meetings to study these problem areas.

Are we missing the boat?

I like to start with the positive and build from there. That’s the cornerstone of a method called Appreciative Inquiry, which was developed as part of the positive psychology movement of the 1990s. Management guru Peter Drucker summed it up well: “The task of organizational leadership is to create an alignment of strengths in ways that make the system’s weaknesses irrelevant.”

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is ideal for bringing out the best in less than optimal situations—situations where change is a necessity to survive. This approach provides a positive way for participants to move forward by building on what’s working today. It’s not thinking positive, looking on the sunny side, being a Pollyanna, or putting your head in the sand; it’s harsh realism and the exploration of what good one can find in even the bleakest situation.

I’ve heard it said our culture becomes the stories we tell. So if we are telling a story like, “This place stinks. We haven’t had a raise in three years, and my workload keeps growing,” what’s the culture, what seems possible? What if we told the story in a different way? If we reframe it to: “I like my coworkers. We are good at stretching our resources to the limit so we can help the most people,” what possibilities open up?

I am reminded of the quote, “I’ll see it when I believe it.” When we can focus on what’s right and what we value, we change our mindset and become open to more possibilities.

Here are the simple steps of AI:

1. Discover: Identify things that work well.

2. Dream: Envision what would work well in the future.

3. Design: Plan and prioritize the processes that would work well.

4. Deliver: Implement the proposed design.

If you are part of an organization looking to transform into a positive, forward-moving culture where people are energized and engaged, AI could be for you.  Just remember that changing culture and attitudes is an ongoing process; you can begin anywhere. Also, be confident that you will be successful as long as you proceed with integrity, sincerity and genuine curiosity. This process will begin to inform your every decision—how people are hired, how results are measured, how goals are set, how resources are allocated, how clients are treated and every other critical factor driving your business.

AI has been successfully implemented in numerous industries and locations, including business, health care, nonprofits, education, government, and finance.

Please let me know your experience with AI, and if you haven’t explored AI for yourself, let’s talk! We will start with what’s good.