Creating a Context
For over 27 years I have been a mediator, facilitator, trainer and user of many problem solving models. During that time, I have looked for models and approaches to help me be more effective. In this article, I am pleased to introduce and share with you two exciting techniques that have strengthened my work and may enhance and improve your own efforts, too.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a strength-based approach to creating change, with a primary focus on the assets of the system. It addresses desired change by recalling, exploring and focusing only on past and present achievements, times of exceptional accomplishments, and moments of insights and pleasure associated with the topic.
Traditionally, there are four “phases” of AI:
Applying the phases of AI to thinking and behavior results in surprising ,novel and desired out comes..This focus on strengths assets and what one wants more of, not what is missing, leads to knowledge of AI’s universal application, its challenge and its beauty (Watkins/Mohr 2001).
Complexity Science (CS) consists of the research and insights from the study of the natural world, e.g. eco systems, the human brain, waterfalls, coast lines, bee hives, etc. CS is the hidden pearl, metaphorically explaining how systems work, and the interdependence and connectedness of their parts. CS identifies and addresses known and unknown patterns of thinking and behavior –CS asserts that there are patterns everywhere within any system.. For more than 25 years, organizational theorists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, the military and others have applied complexity concepts to their disciplines.
Three main pillars of CS are Chaos Theory, Complex Adaptive Systems and Dissipative Structures (Stacey 2003.)
We can influence how a system self-organizes by setting the conditions for change. These conditions are:
In short outcomes emerge within a system based on the mutual interdependence of the activity of the agents; the kinds of exchanges occurring, and the degree to which the objectives of the system are met. (Olson/Eoyang 2001).
For example, during a workplace conversation, harsh feelings may emerge and can lead to responses that bring different perceptions about the issue into play. That new information gets incorporated into the situation, and the result is a new view of the original feelings and the situation.
“ Special thanks to Dr. Mallary Tytel for her contribution to this article: www.healthyworkplaces.com”
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