Pursuit of the Positive: A Model for Change

IMGCAP(1)]In today’s society there is a great deal of emphasis and focus on all that is wrong with the world, with our country and even our businesses.

We seem to go through great pains at times to find things to disagree with that don’t seem to fit our view of how things should be or simply don’t work. The goal is always to search for problems and allocate intense resources to fix them.

In the world of organizational development this is considered a deficiency model, whereby change is always derived through finding a negative situation to correct.

Certainly it is necessary to know where things aren’t working. However, for a firm to produce positive, lasting change, there may be a better way to mobilize your business for change and improvement.

One organizational change model making its way into boardrooms is called Appreciative Inquiry (AI).

Instead of focusing on deficiencies in an organization, AI analyzes the positives inside a team, group or organization, and repositions the situation to ask the question, “How can we take all that is good, expand these and make what we do better?”

“Its assumption is simple; every human system has something that works right—things that give it life when it is vital, effective, and successful,” states AI consultant Bernard Mohr

Take recruiting and retention inside an accounting firm, for example. Most firms look at the environment and immediately frame the situation negatively; talent is in short supply, good people are leaving the firm for industry or the best people we have talked with lately are all looking for an opportunity with a Big Four firm. These examples, and others, are what we consistently hear from firms that are looking at the situation from a deficiency perspective.

Instead, consider turning the table on what you are doing to change the fortunes for recruiting and retention in your firm. Try asking questions and identifying positive points that provide a view as to what is working in your firm to find good people and keep them engaged in your firm.

Often, when a firm grows, its processes and ways of doing things become outdated. New ideas need to be infused into the situation. It’s not that everything is wrong. Possibly by looking at where you are and reframing the question to “how can we move forward with what we have?” you will begin to experience more success.

An accounting association or network offers a form of the AI model through its best practices and performance improvement focus. In this exclusive and engaging environment, members share information about what is working in their firms to help with growth, management of business and staffing issues. The atmosphere and intent is most definitely framed in the positive.

Orville and Wilbur Wright did not view themselves as businessmen, and the notion of AI would be something for the next millennium. However they were inventors of the highest degree, outworking and over-innovating syndicates of government and privately backed groups in the U.S. and around the globe who were all trying to build the world’s first flying machine. Yet the Wrights did achieve the impossible, in part by the way in which they innovated over and over again and found a better way by reframing their previous work in the positive, and generating improvements based on what had been achieved.

Patrick Pruett is executive vice president of The Rainmaker Companies and serves as the main contact for The Rainmaker Alliances, an international association of accountants and advisors, as well as six industry niche associations for individual CPAs who are serious about growing and serving a specific niche industry practice.

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