As a thought leader, author, educator, and consultant on humanist manufacturing, I write a weekly article that benefits leaders who want to improve their organizations using elements of my Humanist Manufacturing framework.
We have been building a case for developing a human-centered strategy for the previous two weeks. The first week looked at barriers to integrating humanism into strategy and calls by Carvaka, Confucius, Gautama, and Socrates espousing humanism or humanistic thought. Last week the focus was on the approach of the SOAR framework on institutional strengths and the positive impacts of the organization. We will now have an introduction to Appreciative Inquiry, which is the foundation of the SOAR framework.
SOAR is an acronym for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results. A definition is "a strategic thinking, planning, conversations, and leading framework." This approach integrates Appreciative Inquiry (AI) with a strategic planning framework to create a transformational process that inspires organizations to SOAR. The SOAR framework for strategic Inquiry and decision-making uses AI to bring stakeholder dialogue into strategic planning. SOAR accelerates the strategic planning efforts of an organization by focusing directly on those elements that will give life energy to the future and the organization's people. It is made explicit by positive dialogue between and among these groups of stakeholders.
We need to discover the root causes of success rather than the root causes of failure. - David Cooperrider
Cooperrider's 5-D cycle is a process model for approaching change from a system-wide perspective. The process steps include the following:
• Define – What is the topic of Inquiry?
• Discover – Appreciating the best of 'what is.'
• Dream – Imagining 'what could be.'
• Design – Determining 'what should be.'
• Deliver/Destiny – Creating 'what will be.'
Using the 5-D cycle allows teams or organizations to create a preferred future through innovative and improvisational ways that build AI competencies into the culture.
In his foundational work on Appreciate Inquiry (AI), Cooperrider asks questions and promotes dialogue based on the social-constructivist theory, where human development is a fundamentally social process. The key aspects guiding these efforts are:
• Constructionist Principle - The way we know is fateful.
• Principle of Simultaneity - Change begins when you ask the question.
• Poetic Principle - Organizations are an open book.
• Anticipatory Principle - Deep change = change in active images of the future.
• Positive Principle - The more positive the question, the greater and longer-lasting the change.
• Principle of Wholeness - The whole system can have a voice in the future.
These six principles remind me of bumper bowling my kids did when they were young. The bumpers were inflatable tubes in the gutters on either side of the lane. It made it impossible for these young bowlers to roll a gutter ball. At times the ball almost did not reach the pins, but the desired result was hitting the bowling pins. The six principles provide bumpers that allow organizations to achieve exceptional results.
Those that embrace the whole stakeholder and strengths-based approach to organizational change using AI engage everyone in aligning the company's strengths. Working through the following steps is a process to turn goals into action:
• Appreciate "What is" (What gives life?).
• Imagine "What Might Be."
• Determine "What Should Be."
• Create "What Will Be."
Organizations are a solution or mystery we can embrace while significant enthusiasm builds through stakeholder involvement in creating a desirable organizational future.
The SOAR framework has integrated AI into the four phases of strategy development. First, stakeholders collectively explore known strengths in the inquiry stage. Second, exploring opportunities occurs in the imagining phase, hoping to discover more through stakeholder dialogue. The purpose of this phase is to set long-term goals and create strategies. This phase also identifies the organization's shared value set, vision, and mission through opportunities for stakeholders to activate effective strategy formulation. Third, the innovation phase calls for Aspirations to co-construct the most preferred future. With these transformational factors considered, organizations can create a new future and sustain a sense of commitment and urgency over a long period. This phase also involves the design of strategies and tactics to support the new business model. Finally, in the implementation phase, employees are inspired through authentic recognition and reward to act on the shared plans to achieve measurable Results.
The SOAR framework builds on a foundation of Appreciative Inquiry (AI). AI built into a strategic planning framework creates a transformational process that inspires organizations to SOAR. The SOAR framework for strategic Inquiry and decision-making uses AI to bring stakeholder dialogue into strategic planning.
I encourage those interested in hearing more about AI to view the short Appreciative Inquiry: A Conversation with David Cooperrider video. Cooperrider shares his perspective on making organizational weaknesses irrelevant by focusing on its strengths.
I continue to admire those individuals that alter long-held perceptions of doing business. Dr. David Cooperrider did so by introducing the world to Appreciative Inquiry. He is the leader of a positive revolution changing global brands like Apple, Boeing Corporation, Coca-Cola, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Interface Carpets, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, British Airways, United Nations, VISA, Proctor & Gamble, and Vitamix to new heights of organizational.
Next week's blog will review sample questions we ask in each phase of the SOAR framework essential to the transition to humanist manufacturing.
To learn more about our work or read more blog posts, visit emmanuelstratgicsustainability.com.
I encourage you to read my book Humanist Manufacturing: A Humanitarian Approach to Excellence in High-Impact Plant Operations. The paperback and eBook versions are now available at Amazon and many other booksellers. You can also view the Humanist Manufacturing Book Launch to gain additional insight into the Humanist Manufacturing framework.
I invite you to join the Humanist Manufacturing Group on LinkedIn if you want to interact with others interested in the topic.
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