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Optimum Interventions

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 in the same way as we always have done. As the saying goes, “if you keep on doing what you have always done, you will keep on getting what you’ve always got!” In too many cases that means focusing on what’s wrong with the organisation or the weaknesses of the individual and the measures required to make things better.

Now, sometimes there really is something worrying in the performance of a service, team or individual and an intervention needs to take place. We recognise that. Often that can take the form of a rapid change of personnel or the creation of a new process or procedure. Yet, often that proves to be the short-term palliative, not the long-term salvation. Why is this? Well, one reason might be that the positive core of that person or team has simply not been explored and captured because of the concentration on problems. Another reason is that individuals are so inured to the problem-fixing mode of operation that their strengths and the activities that make best use of their strengths, i.e. their positive core, are simply not recognised or valued.

Sometimes it’s a small ‘nudge’ that makes the difference, e.g. some new perspectives on an old matter, a sharper focus on what’s working well, increasing the time spent on creativity or refreshing energy levels through sharing each others’ strengths. One way to do this is to invite an external advisor to support the person or team to move forward. We believe that the “experts” are the people in the organisation. We find we can support them best by creating different contexts that encourage people to appreciate and understand their talents and strengths, to use their skills in new ways, and help people to co -operate and take pride in what they are doing.  These contexts help people to gather new perspectives and to refresh energy levels, make new commitments and engage with colleagues differently.

Working with strengths-based methods and exploring what works well in the organisation instead of focusing on the “problem” pays dividends in our experience. It requires  a degree of ‘re-programming’ for the people involved and tools such as Strengthscope, Gallup’s Strengthsfinder, the SOAR strategic planning model (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results) and Appreciative Inquiry offer new and exciting ways to optimise both organisational and individuals’ talents.

Our work with clients creates safe and creative environments for personal and service development; environments where people feel they are valued, important and where everyone has something to add to the whole.

This shift of perspective from the problem-centred to the positive and strength focused provides opportunities to take pride in what they are doing and feel that they are important contributors to the organisation’s goals. When people feel valued and have the potential to use and increase their personal strengths they also become more engaged, accept greater responsibility and increase their ability to see new perspectives and different views.

We create learning opportunities where people can learn about and appreciate their talents, feel that they are important and skilful and learn how to combine their talents with colleagues’. We find when this happens weaknesses frequently become irrelevant.

Contact us to discuss how strength based personal and team development could improve customer and employee satisfaction and results in your organisation.

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This entry was posted in Appreciative Inquiry, change, Deficit, Executive coaching, not problem-solving, Organisational development, Positive core, productivity, Strengths, Talents. Bookmark the permalink.

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Steve Lorraine