Tuesday, 22 January 2013

On the appreciative journey

Dear fellow HRDians
You will recall my interest in the concept of 'Appreciative Inquiry' from my earlier posts. With a view to take it further, I send a few articles on AI to all the team leaders of the company requesting them to read them and respond. The basic focus of all articles was the importance of focusing on "what we want" rather than on "what we do not want." One such article discussed culture change in Avon Products Mexico division where sexual harassment was a problem which they attempted to address by training. However in spite of training for a period of two years, the number of complaints were up & the number of law suits were up as well.

At this stage they approached David cooperrider, founder of AI with a question "How do you take an appreciative approach to sexual harrassment?." David in turn had a question for them "What do you really want to do?"
"We want to dramatically cut the incidence of sexual harrassment and solve this problem"
"What would that look like?" asked David
"You mean what do we really want?  What we really want is to be a model of positive,cross gender working relationships."
"Ah there you are! Positive cross gender working relationships, you will agree  this is an appreciative topic for focus  as compared to 'sexual harassment'?"
This was followed by a small pilot program to encourage success stories of times when men and women worked together.100 people were trained in appreciative inquiry interviewing to ask for the stories of best experiences involving achievement,  trust building, authentic joint leadership and effective conflict management.
As a result Avon started asking men & women to co chair teams and task forces. Two years later, Catalyst a  Womens' business interest group awarded them the best place to work for women in Mexico.

Well, this was just of the one of the few articles I had sent to the team leaders. Only one of them responded showing his interest & excitement about the concept.I offered to have a meeting with his team to discuss &   take the concepts of AI forward.As he was from the general services department, he was not in a position to release a large number of his  team members but agreed to arrange an interaction with six persons representing various areas such as transport, canteen, medical etc.
At the initial meeting, the concept was discussed after which the participants were paired into two. Each one told the other stories of a time when they  they felt excited and  full of life. Subsquently, the stories were shared before the whole class. Mr  A  gave details of  Mr B's story after which B told A's story. From the stories we arrived at the high points or important themes. 22 such high points emerged  which included (1) complete dedication to achieve goal ( 2)  Taking up/ accepting a challenge (3) determination to fulfill responsibilities( 4 ) an ardent desire for improvement & growth and so on.
participants agreed to discuss with their team members as to how these 22 themes can be applied in their own area of work.After experimenting with the application , the group would meet after three months to share their experiences,
We ended that evening on a high note. I profusely  thanked the team leader who was the first one to show interest & to take the initiative. The journey had begun. I know that we could reach many places from here. I will be sharing with you our progress & experiences.
Rest in my next

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