Home Organizational Psychology Organizational Types / Structures Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurs in Closely-Held Enterprises III. The Appreciation of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise

Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurs in Closely-Held Enterprises III. The Appreciation of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise

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Compassion rather than objectivity is critical. We care about the people and groups with whom we work as appreciative managers, consultants, coaches or leaders working with closely-held enterprises. Neutrality is inappropriate in such a setting. Compassion, however, does not imply either a loss of discipline or a loss of boundaries between one’s own perspective and the perspective held by the other person. Appreciation is deeply caring about and caring for another person’s problems, without personally taking on their problems. We can appreciate another person’s problems and assist this person in solving these problems without losing our personal identity.

Valuing Another Person

In some circles, the process of appreciation refers to an increase in worth or value. A stock portfolio “appreciates” in value. This use of the term appreciation would seem, on the surface, to be economic in character. Value, however, can be assigned in non-financial terms— especially in closely-held enterprises. Van Gogh looked at a vase of sunflowers. He appreciated these flowers by rendering a painting of them. In doing so, he increased the aesthetic value of these flowers for everyone. Van Gogh similarly appreciated and brought new value to his friends through his friendship: “Van Gogh did not merely articulate admiration for his friend: He created new values and new ways of seeing the world through the very act of valuing.” (Cooperrrider, 1990, p. 123)

Peter Vaill (1990, p. 323) recounts a scene from Lawrence of Arabia in which Lawrence tells a British Colonel that his job at the Arab camp was to “appreciate the situation.” By appreciating the situation, Lawrence assessed and then added credibility to the Arab cause, much as a knowledgeable jeweler or art appraiser can increase the value of a diamond or painting through nothing more than the thoughtful appraisal. Lawrence’s appreciation of the Arab situation, in turn, helped to produce a new level of courage and ambition on the part of the Arab communities with which Lawrence was associated. Appreciative organizations create value, courage and ambition among those who are associated with the organization. This is a key point in the process of organizational appreciation.

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