A Marriage of Two Powerful Mindsets for Complex Change
Yes, it is an approach to supporting complex change in organizations and teams. And it's also a mindset. Like anything that seeks to transform, it takes time and many steps to create a shift in how things are done, because humans are not robots. We don't function just by changing the code and hitting a button. We need to test stuff out, and we need to feel good about how it works. Especially if we want to invest energy, time, and money in it.
BASIC Appreciative Inquiry DNA
Appreciative Inquiry is really about accepting that real transformation is a complex process that can be managed in an energizing, inclusive, constructive way.
The mindset is grounded in the belief that the tone of any change is set with the first thoughts - the origins of why the change is happening. If it is born from fear, desperation or lack - then the transformation process will likely fail or not be completed. If it is born from what was already proved successful, energizing, positive and aspirational, it is guaranteed to be successfully manifested.
The combination with Agile principles of transparency, self-organization, collaboration, and short planning and delivery phases keep things moving forward even when the unexpected happens.
Although agility seems to be the trend, because of the increased pace at which change in organisations is required, a lot of people are confusing the idea of working in an agile way (using Agile software development approaches) and being agile - which is a mindset. This requires that people embrace not only making mistakes, but learning from them. Prototyping, testing, transparency and coordination are key to thinking and acting quickly.
"Agility" is an act of transforming an organization’s form or nature gradually to one that is able to embrace and thrive in a flexible, collaborative, self-organizing, fast changing environment. The Agile Manifesto values and principles can be taught and exercised throughout any type of organization as it does not just apply to development teams.
The complete cultural and organizational mind set must change to one that embraces a culture of self-organization and collaboration.
Agile transformation is an act of "being" which requires a mindset shift. Without the emotional buy-in, it becomes another failed strategy and waste of precious resources.
This is where the combination of Appreciative Inquiry and the positive energy it creates, sustains the adoption of new behaviors and leads to successful transformations.
Susanne Taylor is an independent change consultant and coach for international organisations. Through her company, CFlow, she partners with clients and other professionals to enable and sustain mindset shifts. Susanne regularly presents at various conferences, designs interactive workshops, and coaches individuals and teams. She is always looking for innovative ways to expand what is "possible".
Sacha Storz is a certified Scrum Professional, certified SAFe 4 Agilist, certified Kanban Professional and Management 3.0 facilitator. He is an Agile Coach at Techdivision GmbH, Germany, and also consults and coaches other companies. He has been an active member of the agile community for years, giving talks and workshops at events such as Agile World, Manage Agile, REConf and Global Scrum Gatherings.
A BIT OF BACK STORY...
Susanne and Sacha met in Prague at the Agile Lean Europe conference in 2017, where Susanne offered a session on exploring the marriage of two powerful mindsets, Appreciative Inquiry and Agile. She had been exploring Agile principles in combination with her work as a change consultant, where she employs Appreciative Inquiry in almost everything. The session was a success and created momentum for Susanne, Sacha and a few others to meet and exchange regularly to explore and craft a test.
The first test was in Vienna, Austria with a small start up - just a 3 hour workshop - in late 2017. (We'll admit it didn't go as we'd hoped, but we learned a lot!)
The second test was just outside of Munich, with a slightly larger startup - and there we experienced the energy and excitement that we were looking for. In 2 hours, we engaged a third of the company to really connect with each other, assess their current work approaches, and make some decisions on how individuals could have greater impact on the improvements they wanted to see at their company. The CEO, HR, developers, engineers, and designers all contributed and aligned. And their journey continues.
In the summer of 2018 Susanne and Sacha presented the concept at Agile World in Munich, Germany, and created a helpful graphic roadmap. (Want a pdf? Just contact us and ask!)
Since then, Susanne and Sacha continue to co-create and experiment with clients around Europe who want to transform not just their organisational processes, but the way their people live at work.
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