Positive Psychology and the problem of the ‘not positive’ (Part 1)

Positive psychology has become the focus of considerable critical attention of late – a mark, perhaps, of its growing stature. However, I think there is a misconception in some of these critiques – the assumption that positive psychology necessarily excludes experiences we might designate ‘negative’, or at least ‘not positive’. Positive psychology is not about […]

Good questions create better worlds (Part 2)

Carrying on our focus on Appreciative Inquiry and the use of good questions, here we will consign a few more well-intentioned but counter-productive questions to the bin marked ‘never to be asked’. Bad question #3: Have you thought of doing it this way? This sounds like a helpful intervention, but no matter how benign the […]

Using experimentalism in effective facilitation

One of the characteristics of complex organisations is that they rely on different forms of expertise to function. However, problems arise when the experts are siloed in their own teams or departments, perhaps exchanging a few friendly words with colleagues from other specialist fields at lunchtime. Experts from different disciplines speak different technical languages to […]

Appreciative Inquiry and Cooperrider’s Three Circles of Strength, Part One

A large company generates 2000 measurement systems for assessing problems, including exit surveys to study turnover, an annual low morale survey and focus groups with its most dissatisfied customers. Result? 80 per cent of management attention is focussed on fixing weaknesses. David Cooperrider, the Gestalt-oriented originator of Appreciative Inquiry, believes this is the exact reverse […]

Becoming a creative pragmatist

There is a peculiar fact about positive thinking: it tends to evoke a “shadow” of “negative” thoughts and feelings. If I am reminiscing about a lost loved one, I may find myself bathed in feelings of warmth and affection; however, sadness over the loss and even anger at being abandoned are never far away. What […]

Respond with compassion, it works better than toughness when employees err

Most managers will have encountered a situation in which an employee has made a grave mistake that could seriously damage a critical project and reflect badly on the manager and the organisation. What’s the best way of reacting? A frustrated manager may decide to reprimand the employee. This vents frustration and is intended to teach […]

Want your team to be more productive? Concentrate on happiness

If you want your team to be more productive, focus on fostering as much happiness amongst them as possible. A new study in the Journal of Applied Behavioural Science found that organisations that promote positive and virtuous practices in the workplace outperform those that don’t; and I mean “outperform” in the hard-headed business sense. As […]