Appreciative Inquiry = Strengths based Leadership

DA73E51F-F6AB-4D1C-9919-EB91C9467D6AHave you noticed that problem solvers never run out of problems to solve?

The old Harvard Business School model of problem solving is inadequate in today’s business environment. When we focus on solving problem, we actually invite more problems.

Organizations are beginning to understand the power of focusing on strengths in order to accelerate growth. And there is scientific and empirical evidence to support this way of thinking.

Back in the late 80’s, British Petroleum sent out a customer satisfaction survey to gain insight after opening 300 new service stations. The results indicated a 96% satisfaction rating. As a result, BP decided to invest $20 million to address the 4% who were dissatisfied. To their amazement, in the next survey their satisfaction rating dropped to 84%.

In response, they applied the principles of Appreciative Inquiry to their management and strategic planning processes. They committed to focusing their energy and resources on their strengths. They planned and executed around what was working best; around things that supported the company when it was “at its best.”

Two years later, their customer satisfaction rating returned to 96%.

Leaders spend an inordinate amount of energy on things that just don’t matter. Focusing on deficits is a waste of time. Peter Drucker points out that “The task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths in ways that makes a system’s weaknesses irrelevant.”

This is counter-intuitive for some leaders, who feel they earn their money fixing problems. But, there are countless case studies to support the impact of strengths based leadership.

Leading change is all about strength, and has nothing to do with weaknesses.

Carl Jung says it most eloquently. “What we focus on, grows.”