What Lies Beneath?

March 27, 2018

In organizational development (OD) circles there’s a model called Appreciative Inquiry. When you’re looking to retool, restructure or reinvent – whether it’s teams or processes – this model essentially uses previous accomplishments and existing strengths as the springboard for doing things differently.

Whether at the individual, group or company level, we all know that change is hard. The thinking behind Appreciative Inquiry is that you’re more likely to succeed by identifying:

1. what’s already working and
2. what factors contributed to that higher level of performance.

Armed with these insights, existing capabilities are clearer and confidence is higher. Not only are you better able to tackle the new challenges when you’ve “inventoried” what you’re good at, but you have also essentially been “reminded” that past challenges have been overcome and future ones will likely be no different.

While there are of course all sorts of external, market-driven catalysts for change, improved/different performance only results when internal changes have been made. Appreciative Inquiry suggests that building up from the inside – as opposed to tearing down from the outside – is a more favorable path to reaching new goals. I don’t claim to be an expert in the change management principles that are a part of this model. What I do know, however, is that the “next level” lies within, the “killer app” will be developed down the hall and being a “game changer” starts with the playbook of past successes. Hidden in plain sight are the things we can do to be more efficient or effective, to be more successful.

Where do we go to get these performance-changing insights? How do we find those best practices where things are working well? Part of the answer requires that we focus on what’s going on inside the “four walls” of our organizations and that we are willing to learn from one another. Mining our own success stories also requires that we invest in solutions that enable us to surface what works. For example:

  • Implement collaborative solutions that allow you to leverage the combined knowledge of your co-workers
  • Create opportunities for peer-to-peer connections and relationship-building outside the lines of the org chart
  • Support innovation by also capturing the learning that occurs outside of an online course or a classroom

Like the seedling that boldly and vulnerably breaks through, successfully changing what we do or how we do it is all about creating an environment where the right combination of elements can interact.

What ingredients would you include in a “recipe for workplace success?” What tools do you and your team need in order to do your best work? We welcome your responses and comments below!


About the author

Stan’s first experience with instructional technology occurred in 1999 when he used SMART Boards to help employees learn how to use the Microsoft Office Suite. He then became an instructional designer and systems trainer for a variety of proprietary CRM software solutions. From there, Stan worked as a Training Manager and later as a Project Manager for an early leader in online education. As his experience with online learning grew, and as his understanding of the need to connect strategy with technology evolved, Stan began to focus on the relationship between blended learning and social business. It was these insights that attracted him to Jive and Pokeshot’s SmarterPath LMS the first time he saw it in 2012. Stan’s current role with the company not only allows him to support the sales, marketing, and product development teams, but it also allows him to work directly with customers as they implement SmarterPath. Prior to joining Pokeshot in October 2016, Stan spent several years working as a freelance consultant, successfully completing learning technology projects for such clients as Right Management, National University System and the U.S. Forest Service.


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