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Is it time for a Change of Gear?

Are you contemplating a new direction? If you’re ready to think about change you may be ready for GearChange. Drawing on their own experience of switching between employed and self-employed roles and re-launching ourselvs in new directions, Janet Dean and I have developed a programme of support for people who are embarking on major life and career change. What is GearChange? GearChange offers support to individuals embarking on career and life change through a menu of tailored products, including: One to one Coaching, either face to face, telephone or Skype. Mentoring, practical advice, access to knowledge and networks. Action Learning… Read more
Posted in Appreciative Change, change, Executive coaching, Strengths, Talents, Well Being | Leave a comment

Adaptable Leadership in the Public Sector: Courage to take the Strengths-based Approach for Key Outcomes

Introduction The early 2000s was a febrile period for public services in the UK when government expected improved outcomes for increased funding levels and regulatory inspection and audits were expanding in scale and reach. Direct or implicit intervention was an ever present risk if failure was suspected. Resilient and adaptable leaders were expected to craft effective responses to the challenges. Some interventions took the form of relatively ‘light-touch’ oversight of specific services. In other cases the interventions were more dramatic and included: Leadership teams excised from the organisation Interim leaders installed Governmental appointees sent to guide and oversee improvement Councillors… Read more
Posted in Appreciative Inquiry, assumptions, change, Complexity, courage, Culture change, Good-finding, Interims, leadership, Leadership styles, learning, Listening, Local Government, Make a difference, Organisational development, People, Positive core, Public Service, reputation, Strengths, Supporting leaders, Transformation | Leave a comment

It’s people who make organisations work well…and they do so by using their strengths

Strengths-based organisational development People make organisations work well. Not the procedures, processes, structures or governance mechanisms. These elements can all assist, as well as frustrate, the effective working of an organisation, but they rarely if ever play the pivotal role that people do in delivering what an organisation is about. Our coaching and thought-support work with clients invariably tells us that the deficit or weakness-centred approach to individual and organisational development is strong and worryingly prevalent. It is easy to get stuck in our old ways of thinking. It is also easy to get stuck in our relationships and act… Read more
Posted in Appreciative Inquiry, change, Deficit, Executive coaching, not problem-solving, Organisational development, Positive core, productivity, Strengths, Talents | Leave a comment

Members and Officers Working Together Through Strengths

I’ve been working with some exceptional people during the past week. Senior officers in local authorities and fire and rescue services who as one writer has it, are “ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” What’s extraordinary is that amongst all of the inevitable complexity and complications of organisational life in public service (sometimes more complex than needs be, admittedly), they are finding ways to deliver public good in an environment of almost perpetual uncertainty, resource reduction and organisational dilemma. This perpetual uncertainty manifests itself in a number of ways. In relation to officers working with locally elected politicians, it often surfaces… Read more
Posted in change, Councillors/elected members, Public sector cuts, Public Service, Public Services, Seeing Systems, Strengths, Supporting leaders, Talents | Leave a comment

Do you really want to make a sustainable difference?

It’s over ten years now that I have been using appreciative and strengths-based approaches in individual and organisational development settings. I have been working with a number of coaching clients recently who spend a good deal of time describing the problems and challenges they face and how their organisations tend to respond quite elaborately to these aspects, paying particular attention to the problems and looking for the quickest fixes. This concentration or perhaps over-concentration on the ‘deficit’ view, speaks to the enduring and maturing debate around the merits of taking a strengths-focused approach to change and improvement, compared to the… Read more
Posted in AI, appreciative, Appreciative Change, Appreciative Inquiry, Appreciative planning, Behaviours, change, Culture change, Deficit, Make a difference, productivity, SOAR, Strategic Planning, Strengths | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Performance Improvement – Ten Lessons for great sporting and organisational performance

I’d originally intended this blog piece to be about some very recent conversations I’d had with Chief Executives and Chairs of charities about their organisations and how they approach thinking about and implementing strategic planning and performance improvement. It hasn’t quite turned out that way. I think you’ll see why shortly, ‘though I will return to those conversations in another blog soon. A particular prompt to these conversations about performance improvement has been not only the organisational perspectives I’m perennially interested in, but a far more personal and individual one. In fact, it’s about my thoughts around my continuing and… Read more
Posted in Action Learning, authenticity, change, commitments, courage, learning, Strengths, Tour De France, Transformation | 1 Comment

Change – Our Worlds, Contexts and Conversations

The imperatives to change and transform our organisations, and the risks of not responding coherently and appropriately to those imperatives have never been greater or more pressing. During change, the emphasis is often on the ‘programme’ and the programme management tools; the Gantt charts; the HR procedures, cost-management and delivering the ‘benefits’ (how I recoil from that particular term) and so on – and perhaps rightly so. Without appropriate emphasis on those technical aspects, many change programmes (again, not keen on that way of describing change, as programmatic, almost guaranteed to succeed) can and often do falter or fail to… Read more
Posted in change, Culture change, engagement, Illuminate, leadership, Seeing Systems, Strategic Planning, strategy, Transformation | Leave a comment

SOARING to new strategic heights

This coming Wednesday is an important day for Optimum Interventions. Back in June – September 2011 I facilitated a series events for a senior management team and the Trustees of an important charity focused on providing services to the members of a ‘blue-light’ public service. The theme of those events was planning for the future of the charity and those who benefit from its services. This week we return to start to refresh the strategic planning process for 2013; we will be using the SOAR framework, as we did in 2011. Why SOAR? Well, across many years the SWOT model… Read more
Posted in appreciative, Charities, SOAR, Strategic Planning, Strengths | 1 Comment

Sustaining ourselves through difficult times – get new energy here!

Recently I have noticed a range of conflicting feelings and emotions, as the cuts to our public services deepen and the future for them looks anything but bright. On one side, I have been increasingly troubled by the continuing and brutalising effects of the resource cuts to public and voluntary services, along with the associated anti-public sector messaging that goes with them. On the other hand, I read so many energising pieces about great leadership, well handled change and innovative organisational development in those services, that daily I find great ideas, succour and important sources of energy, the fund of… Read more
Posted in Positive Psychology, Positivity, Public sector cuts, Strengths | Leave a comment

Introducing Appreciative Inquiry into another part of the NHS

This week’s blog is by way of reporting on a fabulous two days spent with a superb group of NHS professionals and reiterating the power and relevance of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in UK public services. During the week just past, I facilitated a two day appreciative inquiry-based learning and action event for 15 NHS professionals in the Midlands.  The event was designed to introduce the managers to AI; both it’s theory and practice. The group wanted to not only learn about AI but to use AI ‘live’ across the two days to produce outputs that they could take away and… Read more
Posted in 4-D, AI, appreciative, Appreciative Change, Appreciative Inquiry, engagement, NHS, Public Service, Theory or practice? | Leave a comment
Steve Lorraine