Another appreciative inquiry mini-case study

Be careful of citing companies who do well by doing good!

Death and taxes are certain in this world.  So is the likelihood that any company you quote as doing good will make the headlines in the morning.  I’ve taught for years, and this rule never fails me!

Wal-Mart at its best

So taking my reputation in my hands, I am delighted to pass on another little appreciative inquiry nugget that I spotted in the Management Education briefing circulated by The Economist.

Wal-Mart, the big shop that people love to hate (I’ve never been in one, have you?) did respond well after Hurricane Katrina.  They suprised themselves, as well as their detractors,  and supposedly sparked an ephiphany moment for CEO, Lee Scott.

“What would it take for Wal-Mart to be that company, at our best, all the time?”

Wal-Mart as an example of appreciative inquiry

This simple sentence is typical of appreciative inquiry.  We identify the high point and work out the processes that led us there.  Frequently, we find solutions to a range of problems that we previously thought intractable.

Appreciative inquiry & me

And I ask myself: what will it take for me to be that person, at my best, all the time?

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Simultaneity: The future is an arrow that arrives at our feet

Yesterday, I posted on my difficulty explaining the simultaneity principle in positive organizational scholarship and extrapolating the implications for organizational design.  If you can help me, please do!

Today, I followed up a review about a book on New Zealand history in The Economist.  I’ve extracted this quote wholesale:

“Christina Thompson is a New Englander from a trim town outside Boston with a white church and a green. Seven belongs to the Ngapuhi tribe and his family lives in a ramshackle settlement at the end of a dirt road. Ms Thompson is an intellectual in the tradition of the Enlightenment, an editor of the academic Harvard Review. Seven, with his belief in ghosts and aliens, is the very man that tradition hopes to enlighten. She weighs options and makes plans. He sees the future not as an arrow he shoots ahead of him, but as an arrow that arrives at his feet.”

The future is an arrow that arrives at our feet.

I intuit it.  Who can explain it further?

UPDATE:  I first thought of this as the future coming from behind me.  Now I think of myself as standing still and the future coming towards me.  How about you?

Is engendering curiosity a pertinent goal in positive psychology?

How do you explain the simultaneity principle of positive psychology?

Last week, I gave a talk on positive psychology to psychology students at the University of Buckingham. I structured the talk around the five principles of appreciative inquiry which I used to explore positive psychology and the poetry of David Whyte some months ago.

As I linked each principle to what we might do in our lives, when we coach others, and when we design organizations, I felt a little inadequate on the simultaneity principle.

How can we simply explain ideas of emergence and exploring one’s relationship with the world to beginners in our field?

Is curiosity the quality we are hoping to create in our approach to life?  Is curiosity a virtue to be engendered in organizations as part of job design? Continue reading