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

Organizational Consulting XI:  Acts of Appreciation

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Effective participation in an organization, whether individually or in a group, requires an integration of these different perspectives. This is the key to an appreciative consultation. The consultant and client seek to understand and appreciate the context within which the client is working and in which they assume an appropriate role in meeting the distinctive needs of the current setting. Appreciative consultants encourage their organizational clients to shift between the domains of information, intentions and ideas. When confronted with a new, unpredictable situation, an appreciative leader will tend to become realistic by attempting to assimilate this new reality. When confronted with an old, unchanging environment, she will tend to become a daydreamer, creating images of how this environment might be transformed. When confronted with the press of time and events, the appreciative leader (and other members of her organization) will tend to mobilize activism, creating proposals to meet these challenges.

The appreciative leader is someone who will adapt to changing conditions by moving into all three domains. By contrast, the extreme realist will attempt to collect information even when the environment is unchanging. In this way, the extreme realist will contribute to the resistance of this environment to change. Similarly, the extreme idealist will daydream not only under conditions of relative stability but also under conditions of rapid change and instability, and in this way will add to the instability of the environment and to its unpredictability. The idealist under stress retreats to another world that is much safer. She should instead be confronting the current situation. The extreme activist will respond with hasty actions even when there is no press of time or events. She will even create crises where there are none in order to justify precipitous action. The failure in the activist’s haste may, in turn, produce a new crisis that makes activism seem to be appropriate, thereby initiating a self-reinforcing crisis-management mentality.

When taken to an extreme, each of the three preferences tends to be ineffective in some settings and to create more problems than it solves. Reflection must be balanced against action. Furthermore, the period of reflection must provide opportunities for both the collection of new information and the clarification of existing intentions. An appreciative balancing and integration of reflection and action requires that action produces information and is based on information that actions inform and clarify intentions, and that reflection leads to decision and action. An effective and appreciative organizational consultant can assist his client in finding this balance and integration.

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