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Optimum Interventions

Theory or Practice? Which is best…

Sorry, I was penning this post when I was sidetracked by the sight of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minster and Secretary of State for Health being thrown off a hospital ward by a senior clinician. The words were, “I’m not having it, get out!”. Classic bushwhack television and deeply embarrassing as the trio had just been speaking with patients about their changes to their proposed changes in the health service. Reminiscent of several other off-message meet-the-people “opportunities,” for senior politicians e.g. Brown in Rochdale and Blair in Birmingham. Not good but riveting viewing. But back to business…

I often work with clients considering how we can best make practical improvements to the way our organisations work, how to lead more effectively and how to create stronger communities using appreciative, strengths-focused and positive psychology interventions and methods.

Every client is different, each situation unique and the test is to apply these powerful and productive methods to best effect in each scenario. Of course, it’s not always easy or straightforward, change never is. On occasion, the difference between the persuasiveness of the science behind these approaches and the practical impacts become the centre of debate. For instance, some clients want to really understand the theory and philosophy of appreciative inquiry; what theory is the practice based on, how does it differ from other models, and is there a strong validity for its claims. Others have little time for the deeper background and prefer to ‘take it as read’ and move on to the practical measures, e.g. what do we have to do to get the benefits of these approaches, what changes can we make, do you have ‘proof’ of application elsewhere?

Both stances rightly make demands of our knowledge and experience and create a healthy debate in the practitioner community – where is the best place to begin for the client, what do we choose to emphasise, how do we best create trust and understanding for the client?

Below is a link to a short and helpful piece on the Positive Psychology website that pithily addresses some of these points. The comments on the piece also enlighten.

If you enjoy the piece, you might also enjoy a conversation about how these approaches can make a real and sustainable difference to you and your complex issues. If you do, please contact us via the website.

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Steve Lorraine