The CHALLENGE of leadership is CHANGE. A manager or administrator can keep the status quo, but it takes a leader to create change. Traditionally, leaders have approached change as addressing problems. They use problem solving skills and critical thinking. Most often it has been a top down approach to creating change and this may well explain why change initiatives have such a bad rap.

Think about it. Do you get excited when facing a problem. No, you become defensive and protective just at the very time when you need to be creative and expansive. Survival today depends on creativity, ingenuity and the input and involvement of the workers, none of which comes easily with a top down, problem solving approach to change.

Appreciative Inquiry provides an alternative approach to change that is vision led, focused on opportunities, fosters generative thinking and is self and group directed.

Sue Annis Hammond, the author of “The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry” states, “Appreciative Inquiry is an exciting philosophy for change. The major assumption of Appreciative Inquiry is that in every organization something works and change can be managed through the identification of what works and the analysis of how to do more of what works.”

Business guru Peter Drucker takes it a step further when he said, “The heart of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths in ways that make our weaknesses irrelevant.” This is where Appreciative Inquiry really shines.

Compare: Problem Solving Appreciative Inquiry
Negative by nature Purposefully positive
Usually top down Highly participative
High resistance Transforms inner dialogue
Defensive, Constricting Stimulates creativity
Dictated to Learn by doing

Changes initiated with Appreciative Inquiry have a higher likelihood of success because:
In every organization, something works
Looking for what works creates a positive attitude critical to success in any endeavor
The act of asking questions begins the change
What we focus on as individuals and as organizations becomes our reality
People are more apt to change when they are part of the process and bring forward the best of the past.

If you have tried change initiatives in the past without success or are just thinking about a change initiative, maybe it would make sense to at least explore using Appreciative Inquiry. Peter Drucker summed it up best when he said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Don’t solve problems, create your desired future!

Author's Bio: 

© Copyright Bob Cannon/The Cannon Advantage, 2008. All rights reserved.

Bob Cannon turns managers into leaders who enhance performance and profitability in their organizations. Check out other interesting articles available in the Taking Aim newsletter available at . Bob can be reached at (216) 408-9495.

This article courtesy of You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided this courtesy notice and the author name and URL remain intact.