The “What’s working?” question is a corollary to the constructive venting I talked about in an earlier post.
The organizational development approach of Appreciative Inquiry posits that identifying and leveraging the good stuff is as or even more effective than finding and fixing the bad stuff.
I’m not quite as idealistic as the hard core AI’ers so I like to start with a spirited and invigorating bitch session (for lack of a more delightfully appropriate phrase) followed by the “baby out with bathwater” question.
Spent from the exertion of spewing venom about one’s circumstances (ie: management-doesn’t-support-the-goals-we-don’t-have-the-resources-to-do-our-job-leadership-is-inconsistent-I’m-not-paid-enough-for-this-s$#t-why-does-XYZ-department-get-flex-schedules-and-we-don’t?-…) folks are ready for it.
Wow. There’s A Lot Wrong
A team in the throes of improvement needs to hear some acknowledgement: “Wow. There’s a lot wrong. Sounds like we’ve got our work cut out for us.” The thing is, if your team thinks there’s a lot wrong, then there is. Until your team feels like things are going reasonably swimmingly, you will continue to peer through from the sorry-end of the knothole. So you might as well acknowledge it so that they can move to the next stage.
Baby Out with the Bathwater
Once we’ve vented and once we’ve acknowledged the monumental problems that need to be addressed, we wonder: “Is there anything working well that we should take care to preserve?” Afterall, we wouldn’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater…
If you give the venting enough genuine space and time to breathe, then when you ask this next question, you are likely to hear about some pretty important (and leveragable) aspects of your organization that can help you get to goal.