Home Organizational Psychology Intervention / Consulting Organizational Consulting XI:  Acts of Appreciation

Organizational Consulting XI:  Acts of Appreciation

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Many realistic plans can be established and problems can be solved through the systematic collection of valid and useful information. This lies at the heart of rational, linear planning and modern management processes. In other instances, unfortunately, effective leadership cannot exclusively be based on information about the current situation. Many organizational decisions, particularly those involving people rather than machines, center, at least in part, on conflicting goals, objectives or desired outcomes. Attention must shift from the domain of information to that of intentions. This domain is likely to be particularly important in today’s society, where conflict in values and purposes is so common.

The domain of intentions is entered whenever a consultant (using a Model Four consulting strategy) and their organizational client attempt to understand and clarify the client organization’s mission, vision, values or purposes. While research prevails in the area of information, clarification prevails in the area of intentions. Unlike traditional approaches to the clarification of intentions, which tend to emphasize enforcement or modeling, intention clarification focuses on the way in which mission, vision, values and purposes come into being. As an organizational client becomes clearer about their intentions and the overall intentions of their organization, she will begin to produce solutions that are more and more consistent with these intentions. The process of clarifying intentions becomes richer and more profound as each of us moves toward greater maturity. A mature intention is freely chosen; it is not imposed (an imposed requirement is part of the situation). A mature statement of mission, vision, value and purpose is prized and affirmed; this statement serves as a guiding charter for one’s department or organization and is repeatedly acted on in a consistent and persistent manner.

The domain of ideas is entered whenever a consultant (using a Model Two or Three consulting strategy) assists his client in attempting to generate a proposal intended to move from the current to the desired state. Ideas are sometimes fragile, often misunderstood, and easily lost. While information exists everywhere, we often ignore or misinterpret it. But we can usually go back and retrieve it. Similarly, even though intentions may be ignored or distorted, they resist extinction. Their resistance to change is often a source of frustration: old values linger as do old visions and purposes. Good ideas, on the other hand, are easy to lose and hard to recover.

Settings must be created in which ideas can readily be generated and retained. Two processes are essential. Divergence produces creative ideas. Divergence requires a minimum censorship of ideas, minimal restriction on people offering their own suggestions and taking risks, and minimal adherence to prescribed rules or procedures for the generation of new ideas. The second process is convergence. People must be given the opportunity to build on each other’s ideas, to identify similarities in their ideas, and to agree upon a desired course of action. Convergence requires leaders to observe specific rules and procedures, to listen to ideas and to be constructively critical of other ideas. The domain of ideas often requires consultants and their clients to display a subtle and skillful interplay between convergence and divergence.

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